Pastors Abram Gomez and Mary Jo Martinez share how simple phone calls can strengthen growth and connection.
What’s Cross Church’s philosophy for retaining guests?
Abram: The way we see it, every person who walks through our door for the first time is a gift. We consider that God has sent them to us. Our responsibility is to make sure that we do our very best to present to them the simplest steps possible for them to grow their faith. Now, we’ll do our part as church and staff to make sure that we provide the steps and the environment that’s conducive to this church’s growth but also to individuals themselves.
And you’ve recently seen a lot of growth. What has it been like since you moved into your new building two years ago?
Abram: We’ve doubled our weekend attendance in two years. We’ve gone from 1,200-1,300 to 2,500-2,600 people on any given weekend. And on average, we get at least 20-plus families and individuals—first-time guests every weekend.
What’s your community’s demographic?
Abram: We are in San Benito, a town of about 25,000 people—one of the more economically challenged towns in our region. In fact, in our region alone, we have two of the poorest counties in the state of Texas. It’s also about 90 percent Latino. Not a lot of diversity. Many of the people who come through our doors don’t have that strong initiative mindset to go after something—they’d rather follow than lead. So knowing and understanding that background, we need to keep encouraging them to take that next step.
In what ways do you try to do that at Cross Church?
Mary Jo: We make a lot of phone calls! We have about 63 volunteers serving all our different teams, and their job is to call—our people who just got saved; people signed up for Crosswalk, our assimilation class; people who are signed up for baptism; anyone registering wanting to be a member; anyone joining our community groups; anyone wanting to serve. Volunteers are having one-on-one conversations and finding out where these people are at. So, if you just got saved, we have a live coach and their job is to follow you for four weeks—if you want to be followed.
In the first call, it’s, “Congratulations, you got saved. Your next step is to go to Crosswalk. We want to help you learn, help you understand the Bible you just got.” After that, they’re asking, “Are you a member? Would you like to become a member? Do you want to get connected? Did you sign up for baptism? Did you go to Crosswalk?” I believe that’s what’s helped our growth. These volunteers are a tremendous asset in getting a pulse on where people are.
What’s your biggest challenge right now as you encourage people to keep moving?
Abram: We changed from doing Crosswalk every month to every other month, because the workload was too much. Our people were getting weary. We realized we needed to give ourselves time to consolidate the growth that God has given us. If all we’re doing every month is new members, new members, new members, it almost clogs the system. We have to take a minute to breathe so that we can make sure that the people who go through Crosswalk have the time to find their place in ministry, to find their place in a small group. We were rushing them through just so we could get to the next batch, and it was weakening our system.
Mary Jo: We’re a big draw because no one in our region has ever seen what we’re doing, and we praise God for that. The challenge is trying to keep all the fish in the net!
San Benito, Texas
Weekly Attendance: 1,935