“The family feel is what draws people in,” says Tim Sprankle, the pastor of Leesburg Grace Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Leesburg, Ind. “People come to smaller congregations to connect.”
Sitting in rural Indiana, the average attendance of Leesburg Grace is around 100 adults and children. Their uniqueness is based upon a culture that embodies the “family” metaphor. A spirit of camaraderie and togetherness can be found inside their house of worship and extends through each member as they minister together in and around Leesburg, a farming community of less than 600.
The church’s ancestry started in 1946 when a small group of families planted Leesburg Grace. In 1997, the church tragically burned at the hands of an arsonist and left the congregation to wonder if they should keep meeting or disband. Holding strong to their relationships and faith in God, the church decided to meet in a nearby school. In 2000, God provided them with the opportunity to rebuild without accruing debt. Trusting the Lord through the process of rebuilding not only strengthened the bond between congregants but also their ministry to the community.
Leesburg Grace values volunteering, community involvement, and service. “We show care to show Christ,” says Tim.
Historically, the church has participated in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. As the parade reaches the end of its route, the church grills hot dogs and distributes them for free to the community.
Tim admits that not every community event is a success. In April, the church put on an Easter event called, “The Eggmazing Race,” which, to their disappointment, did not produce the same results as the Memorial Day parade in the past. Instead, they put their heads together to come up with other unique ways to engage the community. An idea that proved to win over the residents of Kosciusko County is “Park and Play,” in which the church hosts a classic car show along with family activities and free food.
“Our church has a spirit of, “‘let’s try something else,’” says Tim, as he describes how the family refuses burning out and having minimal impact. Leesburg Grace seems to always be innovating new ways to move forward toward God’s calling for them.
While serving locally is a huge part of the DNA of Leesburg Grace Church, a spirit of empowering the next generation and having a global impact fills the Leesburg family. Recently, Erin Shuler, a young adult within the church, had a stirring in her heart to minister on a global level. With the encouragement of her church family, Erin is now a global ministry partner of Leesburg Grace, serving with Sonrise Children’s Home in Uganda.
While the people of Leesburg Grace are working alongside one another in ministry, Tim encourages his congregation to participate in worship in a way that goes beyond simply attending the service on Sunday.
“We are Participants,” is the church’s annual theme when it comes to participating in worship. A few times a year, Tim invites individuals or couple to answer interview questions to share their lives with the congregations. He highlights people of different demographics to celebrate the intergenerational dynamic of the church family.
During a recent service, church members were invited to choose the worship songs for the day and in the past, church members had the opportunity to express the impact those songs have had on their lives.
Tim Sprankle continues to loyally pastor the congregation with no intentions of moving on to a larger size church. “I think there is an assumption that pastors of smaller churches need to ‘move up,’ says Tim. “I love where I serve, there’s something beautiful about worshiping together with your spiritual family.”
As the roots of Leesburg Grace Church grow deeper in God’s word, their love for Him and one another will continue to be contagious to those around them.
[Connect:] Send Tim Sprankle a note of encouragement and take the time to pray for this congregation today. Follow Leesburg Grace Church’s Facebook page for updates on their continued ministry together.