Welcome to the Family, Sydney!

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Let's welcome Sydney, our newest Intern from Concordia University Texas to theCross Mount Dora!

Sydney grew up attending a small Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas. The congregation helped grow her faith. Many members were important to her journey as a Christian from age zero to eighteen. Sydney felt called to do ministry her senior year of high school after many years of being involved in the church as a youth. She attended Concordia University Texas and was equipped to become a DCE (Director of Christian Education). She is most well known for laughing all the time at everything. Her interests include, but are not limited to, dancing, tacos, and Jesus!

We wanted to get to know Sydney a little better, so we asked her some hard-hitting questions to reveal the TRUTH about who she is!

1) Why are you a Cleveland Browns fan?

Because who doesn’t love Cleveland? (The real reason is because Colt McCoy played for them and I love the UT Longhorns.)

2) What's your favorite season?

The Summer, I am a big fan of heat.

3) What would you do in a hurricane?

Wear my rain boots. They are polka dotted.

4) What's your favorite Marvel movie and why?

Guardians of the Galaxy because of Groot, the soundtrack, and Star-Lord.

5) Who's your favorite Marvel character and why?

My favorite Marvel character is baby Groot because he is small but still helps save the day. I can relate to that.

6) What's your favorite food?

All forms of tacos. (breakfast, chicken, beef -  all the tacos)

7) What are you most looking forward to in Florida?

I am most excited to be a part of theCross family. I can’t wait to learn and grow as I serve alongside them. And Disney World!

Let's all help to make Sydney feel welcome to her new church home! 


Posted by Jacob Baumann with
Tags: intern

Our Next Steps in Faith

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5.19.19 Congregational Meeting

In our short, crazy history God has built a beautiful church. We have had much change and have seen some great growth.

I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that in Mount Dora there is another church that is larger than ours based on average worship attendance which starting from 3 people in 2010 to over 750 in 2019.

I say that because I believe no church in MTD has as much responsibility as ours to shape the spirituality of this city. God has entrusted this to us, He’s given it to us to be faithful with and it’s up to us to steward it well. To whom much is given, much is expected.

There is also incredible growth coming. In meeting with the Mount Dora City Manager, they are projecting that our city of 15000 will grow to 30000 by 2030. In other words, if we just match city growth, we should be seeing more than 1500 people a weekend. In the past, we have far outmatched city growth…as our city has grown from approximately 10000-15000 we’ve gone from 3 to 750. If we double the city’s growth percentage, by 2030 we will be at 2250 people a weekend and I believe that is a reachable goal for our church as God continues to move. My long term vision for our church campus in Mount Dora is that:

  • We could see 2000-3000 people on a weekend!

  • With this amount of people we could truly serve this city, shape this city, and change this city!

  • Also, this church would become a main hub for any future church planting or campuses that we feel called by God to pursue!

  • In addition, with our growing influence we believe that God is calling and will use our Mount Dora campus to be a major influence in the church world!

With the rising voice within our denomination because of our church model and growth and networking that we’ve built in and with the increased platform of Red Letter Challenge across American Christianity, we want to position our church to be a blessing to others, to be able to lead the way in innovation, creativity, and to help train churches and leaders across our denomination and country. We want and believe that our campus should be hosting conferences in the future, having a conference-ready church.

With all that being said, I want to move and take steps toward our long-term vision now, and we have already begun. Our team is officially working with Plain Joe Studios out in California. They are a leader in church building world and is helping our team develop our story and have a building that would showcase who we really are.  They join with us in the beginning of the project to help us, with everything from site selection to architectural drawings all the way through to the construction.

They’ve worked with some of the most amazing churches in our country, and have more requests than they do actual work, and so we are grateful that they want to partner with us. 

Below is just one of many churches they have designed in the past so you can get a visual of where God is leading us. 


In order to get to this long-term vision, we will need to do three things:

1.) Raise Funds

One of the things I have said from the beginning is I will not pastor a church that does not have financial margin. I will not put us in a bad position financially. It’s a stewardship issue. So in order to move to this long-term we are investigating the best way to raise the funds for the capital that we need.

We are in a great financial position as of today, but not a position today that will allow us the building that we need. And because of our quick departure from this space, we simply wouldn’t have been ready even if we were in the financial position to act and move. We have worked hard to build up cash flow, and to raise some preliminary funds, and I’m glad we did, because for most churches, what we are going through right now, having to relocate, could very well be in a position financially that they wouldn’t be able to. We are able to. We are able to do it well. And we are able to still operate with cash flow. 

If you give to this church, thank you. We couldn’t do this without you.

So, yes, to accomplish a long-term vision requires sacrifice, especially in the financial world. What I can promise you is that whatever we do to raise funds, we will simply ask you to ask God what it is that your part should be in that. When money gets discussed, there’s a lot of emotions and feelings. It’s an important part of our walk with Christ, and just life in general, and I really want you to know from the bottom of my heart, we’ll do our best as we talk through these things in upcoming months to not pressure you, but to guide you to God and His direction and to give you a long-term vision that you can be proud to invest in.

2.) Find land and build or renovate existing building

Open for what God has but we are actively looking and it’s my goal by the end of this year we would have that piece of property identified and paid for. In a perfect world, this could happen very quickly, though much land, for a church to use, has to be rezoned, and that takes time. It is our policy and in our by-laws that we cannot purchase land without a majority vote so the members of theCross family, you don’t get a lot as members, but one thing you do get is a vote, so if you are not a member, and you’d like to vote when that day comes, it could be coming quickly, become a member, and cast your vote. 

Our current preference would be to position ourselves where the main growth is happening…looking more to the southern side of Mount Dora, near 441 and 46, and with convenient access to the beltway. This makes the most sense…we’d rather be in the center of the growth or very near it than to be on the other side. So we are actively looking.

Assist us in this. If you hear of something, please let us know. Our first preference is to stay in Mount Dora and to be in a place where it is near the growth and development. Ideally we’d have at least 10 acres, but we are looking at all sorts of different options.

I really believe in this compelling vision that God has given us. So, if we are able to raise funds successfully we will be able to buy land, put a big sign on it, start building right away, and have that building close to fully paid, if not fully paid. In a perfect scenario, everything would fall into place and we could have that space ready to occupy in 2 years. Because things usually don’t go perfectly when you involve human beings, maybe 2.5-3 years. But all of this largely depends on buy-in and support of this vision. It will require having an active faith in God, and will we be obedient to what God is asking of us. 

But we still have a third component which is important...

3.) We need a place to worship now.

We turned over lots of stones, every one we heard about that made sense, and two things were really important for us: 1) the ability to grow (quantitatively and qualitatively) and 2) we wanted to stay in Mount Dora.

At the end of the day, the only feasible option to stay in Mount Dora for our next step is the local high schools, and the best high school available is MOUNT DORA HIGH SCHOOL.

The good news is they are open to us doing this and our first Sunday there will be August 4th and we will highlight August 18th as our big grand reopening Sunday.

I’m excited about the High School because it gives us an opportunity to grow…the auditorium is actually really nice.  We will be working again with Portable Church Industries. We have learned a lot in this first go-around that will be helpful for us in this second go-around.  The PCI guy who has been doing this for 18 years said this is one of the best auditoriums for a church our size that he has seen.

The auditorium is right at 500 seats and will allow us to actually grow.  We have grown over the last two years, but our growth has been by adding a third service (in the evening) and opening APK campus. We have not grown on Sunday mornings in two years statistically because of a limited auditorium and children’s space.

Also, one of the things that was off the table at first was the gymnasium next to it, but they have since allowed us to be able to use the gymnasium to run our children’s ministry.

We are really pumped to be able to pour into this school and have already talked with the Asst. Principal about doing a huge SERVE DAY on July 13th, and with their football coach about how to be a greater presence on their campus. They are definitely open to these conversations. 

So we will be meeting in two high schools, both portable, with one office space in Mount Dora for the foreseeable future.

This will require a lot of work and buy-in, but we believe it’s time for a lot of people to step up, and for many others, to continue to contribute. I believe that a lot of people will feel very fulfilled in helping us in our next step as we work towards our long-term vision here at theCross, which doesn’t have to be as long as many might think if we get behind this vision.

A few other housekeeping items...

The month of July we will not have a location to worship in Mount Dora. And so we will have the opportunity to come together as one church family in Apopka!

We will have two services at 9AM and 11AM. This will be an incredible opportunity to come together as one family, to learn what Portable Church looks like, to help them pull off Portable Church so we will have a better idea of how to do it in Mount Dora. We are also asking you that if you know anyone in or around APK that could attend services to join them there. What a cool opportunity for you to join them at your church family in Apopka!  On the 21st, we are going to do a BBQ cookout after services that will lead right into ordination service for both Mark Crossman and Jacob Baumann. We and are hoping to have an awesome Baptism Service on July 28th as well.  It’s going to be a month you won’t want to miss!

Likely sometime in mid-to-late June, whether it’s during Sunday services or a special All-In Family Night we will be discussing more details on how we need our church family, specifically, our Dream Team to serve for the upcoming future. A lot is changing. And it is my hope in the reshuffling of all of this, since we are moving anyway, that 50 or more people will step up and be willing to attend and serve at Apopka High School for a full year. We had an amazing initial All-In-Apopka Dream Team that has served so willingly and some of them are still serving there, but it is my belief that if we were able to send another 50 people it will create enough energy and momentum to carry them through another year. 

Church planting and opening campuses is difficult and all we are called to do is plant seeds. 

If we had 50 more people step up there with the current 40 DREAM TEAM they have it would give all of them the ability to serve every other Sunday, or twice a month, which is what we want.  An error in judgment that I made was simply underestimating the time it took for new people to come, to connect, to go through Launch, and to then serve on Dream Team. It’s a process and I’d love to give them some fresh energy because we still believe in our process, our mission, and our values.

In Mount Dora, we will be looking at getting close to 200 Dream Team members to help in all areas, kids and nursery, first impressions, set-up/take-down, etc. 

We have a congregation of 850-900 people on a Sunday, so essentially what we are asking is for about 1/3 of our average weekend attendance, and closer to 20-25% of our actual regular attenders to step up and serve. 

I think what you are going to find is that though it is more work week-to-week for set-up/takedown once we get it set-up it’s going to be awesome. The auditorium that we are acquiring in MTD is so much better for us than the one we have now. And while our kids rooms here are so nice, the gym will give us more space that we ever did have, and we are finally in a position where Sunday mornings are poised for growth. 

This portable MTD campus will allow us to grow and support the long-term vision far greater than if we just stayed here. I’ve had a lot of emotions and my team has, is, and will be working very hard in the future to make all of this happen, but I am so pumped and excited about the ability to actually grow our Sunday morning services. 

Also, we are keeping the Launchpad and Camp Cross and we will be tearing down main space July 1st-July 15th and doing light but important renovation to make LaunchPad and Camp Cross more multi-purpose, with special focus on these things: 1) youth, 2) worship rehearsals, 3) ability to run groups and ministries, and 4) office space. 

Our goal is wherever we are to be a long-term presence. 

It requires sacrifice, GRIT, and resilience. It requires generosity. But I believe that through all of this we are going to see God show up in more incredible ways than we ever would have had we not been in this situation, and I, for one, and am really pumped about this. When challenges arise, the people step up.   

Okay, let me just show you a few pictures of some of the ideas that Plain Joe is working with us. 

Ours won’t necessarily look exactly like this, but when their team comes in July of this year, we will start working more towards what theCross will look like, budgeting, what’s available, and what most fits us.

I’ve been asked and so I want to address 5FORTY7. 

We built this service for those that couldn’t make it to church on Sunday mornings and I’ve loved this service. We believe that with all of the extra work entailed (enlisting hundreds of DT), to pull off effectively portable church in two campuses that we will not have the bandwidth to do an evening service well. I’m uncertain at this time of the ability to livestream at the school, but what I will say is we will put lots of energy whether we are able to livestream or not into making our services available via video on Sunday afternoons so that anyone who can’t come to church on Sunday morning can still worship God at a time that works for them.   

Important Dates:

Mid-to-Late June: All in Family Meeting where we will discuss Dream Team
June 30th: Last service at theCross Mount Dora:
July 1st-July 15th: Breakdown and cleaning of worship space
July 1st-August 10th: Light Renovation to Camp Cross and LaunchPad
July 7th, 14th, 21th, 28th: Worship at APK High School (9AM and 11AM Services)
July 21th: Mark and Jacob’s Ordination Service (likely 1:30PM after BBQ)
July 28th: Baptism Sunday
July 13th: Serve Day for theCross (working at both high schools to improve the schools)
August 4th and 11th: Soft Preview of MTD High School (Service Times 9AM and 11AM)
August 18th: Big Grand Reopening of theCross Mount Dora

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