The Wealth of Thrive | Guest Post by Dr. Tim Henderson

Dr. Tim Henderson was a bi-vocational pastor and the COO of 1-800-Flowers prior to taking a full-time senior pastorate at Jonathan Creek Christian Church in Sullivan, Illinois. Dr. Tim is an ordained Assemblies of God minister who earned his undergraduate degree in Theology from Valley Forge Christian College, his M.S. and Psy.D in Psychology from CCU, his Executive Coaching Certification from Wharton Business School, his certificate for SHRM from Cornell University, and his certificate in Leadership Best Practices from Harvard University. Dr. Tim continually attends seminars and training in the human development, leadership, church growth and coaching arenas. Today he is sharing how the Thrive Process has transformed the church he now pastors.


Last year, my wife Karen and I accepted the senior pastorate at Jonathan Creek Christian Church - an unaffiliated church celebrating it’s 175th year of ministry, whose average attendance was between 25-45 people each week. Shortly after our transition I was invited by Julie Markese to participate in the Thrive Process. I knew immediately it was God ordained and exactly what we needed as a church.  We are now six months into the twelve-month process and it has greatly exceeded my expectations.

Why Thrive? 


While the message of the Gospel never changes, our methodologies often need to.  If we as the Church are going to be truly relevant, we need to forget about stepping out of the box, and step outside of the building. We have such a tendency to surround ourselves with people who think like we do, that we don’t often realize our storehouses of experience and resources are not relevant to the audience God has given us to reach.

Thrive is a Spirit-led process facilitated by competent and professional leaders. In essence, it is a coaching model in which the Lead Pastor and four team members, join with two other church-teams, making a year long commitment to the process of developing strategies, action plans and goals – all to become the Church God intended us to be. Because of the partnerships we have developed with participating teams, we are seeing the ministry in Sullivan succeed.

What specifically has changed in Sullivan?  

When we arrived in Sullivan, there were two weekly services; a Sunday morning traditional worship service and a Wednesday evening corporate prayer and choir practice. The average congregant age was over 65.

In the past 11 months there have been over 50 conversions, 16 water baptisms, and 12 Holy Spirit baptisms.  The average congregant age is now 36, and our average attendance has grown to 120-160 for our Sunday AM services, which includes a full children’s church.

But our growth extends far beyond Sunday morning -

  • 60-80 people attend Sunday evening service, half of which do not attend Sunday morning.
  • 60 people join us on Tuesdays for Family Night small groups from nursery-age through adult, including a growing youth ministry.
  • The parsonage is being retrofitted to serve the community by way of a counseling center, food pantry, and emergency and temporary shelter for those in need.

God is making so many changes in our church there isn’t room enough to share it all in a brief blog post. The bottom line is that we are experiencing dynamic growth both spiritually and numerically, all to the glory of God, and through the ministry of the Thrive Church Network.

What about your church?

In my years as a bi-vocational pastor I worked in various senior corporate positions. Some of those corporations spent tens of thousands of dollars (in one case over $250,000) to participate in processes similar to what is being offered by the Thrive Network through IDC.

The fact that IDC has blessed our district churches with the opportunity to participate in the Thrive Process for free is absolutely incredible.  The Lord has made provision, literally in the way of tens of thousands of dollars, to resource our churches to be the effective hands and feet of Christ in our unique communities. I am so thankful that Jonathan Creek accepted this blessing and is now reaping the results.

You can tell I’m passionate about what God is doing in our church through Thrive. If you have any questions or would like to talk to me directly, feel free to contact me via email at pastortim{at}jcreek{dot}org.

Praying God’s blessing on your lives and your churches,

Tim Henderson