Growing after decline, church never lost missions focus
Daniel Brubeck, pastor of the church since August 2016, told Baptist Press he takes no credit for the 11 percent of North Cheyenne's undesignated income being allocated to missions through the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program.
"That was in place when I got here," Brubeck said. "Our church has a tradition of supporting the Cooperative Program and I don't think you could change that without some problems."
For many years, North Cheyenne Baptist gave in excess of 15 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together in state conventions and around the world. Contributions reached a high of 18 percent in 1993.
"CP is one of our strengths as a denomination," Brubeck said. "As the saying goes, many hands make light work. As one church, we can't focus on everything ourselves, but with the Cooperative Program together with the other churches in the SBC, we can have all these different ministries emphasizing different things that one church just couldn't do on its own."
Brubeck benefited from the Cooperative Program during 14 years of service as an overseas missionary with the International Mission Board. Non-Southern Baptist missionaries had to return to the U.S. and raise funding on their own to support their work, he said.
"They had to concentrate their speaking engagements on churches able to make sizable donations to their ministry," he said. "With the Cooperative Program, when we'd be on furlough, we didn't have to think about that. We would speak anywhere to thank people … even in the smallest churches for giving to missions through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering."
Brubeck uses the same strategic missional thinking in Cheyenne that he used overseas.
"The majority of what I did was training people in ministry so after I'm gone the work continues," he said. "As a missionary, you're always trying to work yourself out of a job, to raise up leadership in the local church, and have them be able to take over and be less dependent on you."
When Brubeck arrived at North Cheyenne Baptist, he found a remnant that had remained faithful through difficult times. The church had shrunk considerably but had been saved in many ways by interim pastor David Barker, who played a key role in reorganizing the church and keeping it going, according to Brubeck.
The members were committed to God, to the church and to missions, which may be why they called a returned missionary as their pastor, David Schroeder told BP. He is missions strategist in the south region for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Missions Network.
"I knew full well North Cheyenne Baptist Church would rebound when they called a pastor with the missions spirit Daniel has," Schroeder said. "The church has had a long history of missions support. It was good for worldwide missions; it was good for the church.
"Its missions heart has been in North Cheyenne's DNA from the beginning," Schroeder said. "There was a real burden for the lost, for people in Cheyenne and Wyoming, but also for people around the world. The church just embraced a burden for every race and tribe."
In his first year at North Cheyenne Baptist, Brubeck released over-extended members from hands-on ministries and led the church to limit itself to financial support instead. The church helped a homeless shelter, a women's shelter and a crisis pregnancy center.
The church continues in benevolence.
"We buy gift cards for people who need that sort of assistance," the pastor said. "They come to the church, get a Bible if they don't have one, a tract, and with that card they get food or gas. … You could very easily spend the majority of your time doing benevolence."
Cheyenne is on heavily traveled Interstates 25 and 80. Now that the church has rebounded to about 70 worshipers, discipleship and training opportunities are happening and people are beginning to respond to Brubeck's fresh perspective on pastoral leadership, church and community.
"We're kind of at a point where we are ready to get more involved," Brubeck said. "We've recently had people from the church going to the homeless shelter and helping in the kitchen.
"It's not been me initiating it; I think the church is realizing the need to be personally involved in these things we financially support," he said. "That's a kind of exciting thing to see!"
North Cheyenne's youth are talking about going on a mission trip next summer, "and I'm sure when they do, the adults will want to do one too," Brubeck said.
The church now advertises in the newspaper on the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, located on the prairie west of Cheyenne, and military personnel from the strategic missile base have started attending.
Members take seriously North Cheyenne's visitation ministry, reaching out to visitors and to people who haven't been seen in church for several weeks. The church visits the local parks on Saturdays encountering many.
"As Jesus said, the fields are white unto harvest; we have to continue going out there, believing there is a harvest," Brubeck continued. "The main purpose of the church is the maturing of believers, the building up of believers into mature Christians. As they mature they're going to share with their neighbors, do outreach naturally, as they live their life."