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October 1979 · Vol. 8 No. 4 · pp. 16–17 

Reports of Renewal: Renewal at Garden Valley Church

Jacob Neufeld

There is something bright and attractive about the Garden Valley Church in Garden City, Kansas. Joyful singing, serious Bible study, and spontaneous sharing characterize this heterogeneous group of believers. The diversity of backgrounds of the two hundred plus members adds excitement to any function of the church. Be it worship, a men’s meeting, sports activities, or group Bible studies, there is always a variety of opinions and insights. Occasionally our traditional practices are questioned and placed under the scrutiny of Scripture. {17} When our interpretations of Scripture vary, and at times they do, we recognize that “now we know in part.” Also our ties of love for the Lord and for one another are strong enough to bear the weight of truth and compensate for partial understanding.

“What accounts for the growth at Garden Valley?” I asked our chairman of deacons some time ago. (Our membership has doubled in five years, our attendance this year is nearly 15% higher than last year and our giving has increased by more than 20% in one year.) He felt that in the past home Bible studies had been the most fruitful means of reaching into the community and I believe he was right. However, at present our home Bible studies are serving more of a discipling purpose and home visitations and friendship evangelism are the means of reaching people with the Gospel. This is taking place spontaneously rather than in an organized form, although we have had structured visitation programs in the past and there appears to be a need for them again.

Since Garden City is a rapidly growing community there is a constant stream of people in search of a church home. Much of our growth has come from visitors to Garden Valley who appreciated the spirit of openness and love here. Our gifted musicians have attracted people, as has the simple preaching of the Word.

Recently two series of meetings made a profound impact on Garden Valley. “The Conquerors Thru Christ” team showed us that our Christian life consists of Christ living His perfect life in and through us. In an understandable way they explained the principle of abiding in Christ and He in us. A Lay Witness Mission provided an excellent follow-up to this teaching ministry. Some 30 lay people came from several states at their own expense to share with us how Christ was changing their lives. The effect of their witness has been far-reaching: our own people have begun to share more freely their inner joys and struggles, more prayer is being made for one another, and the ties of love and fellowship have become stronger.

Other para-church ministries have stimulated the spiritual life at Garden Valley. The special emphases of the Navigators, Campus Crusade, and Young Life have helped to shape Garden Valley.

We are certain that the Garden Valley Church will continue to reach out to people who need Christ and who are looking for a bright and attractive church.

Jacob Neufeld, Pastor
Garden Valley Church
Garden City, Kansas

[Editor’s Note: Since responding to our request for a report on Garden Valley Church, Jacob Neufeld has become pastor of the Dinuba, California, Mennonite Brethren Church.]

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