Author: Mark Barnes
June 15, 2018

“If the Gospel can change that dude, the Gospel can change anyone.” Bart Millard of Mercy Me ends the movie ‘I Can Only Imagine’ with those words talking about the transformation of his father from abusive monster growing up, to becoming his best friend and Godliest man he ever knew before passing away. Glad the girls asked for a movie night! I’ve always liked the song but had no idea about the powerful story behind it and the life of lead singer Bart. 

I’m all about the story. Always have been. I love the details that drive a building storyline, twisting plot, and finally snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, or saving the day when all appeared to be lost. The best stories really draw you in. Help you identify with the characters. Make you feel like a part of what is happening. Leave you feeling like your missing something when they are over.

I have this vision for Pathway. Unlike the fictional stories that grab our attention for a short while and then fade. Or sensationalized news that is here today, forgotten tomorrow. The Pathway story has a long-term impact on many. Changing monsters to best friends where they can grow to become Godly men and women. Or introducing Christ to individuals and families because they were invited or wanted to check us out and found a place where they were treated like family. A vision that is founded on a community that not only enjoys worshiping and serving together, but one that actively seeks to fulfill their mission God laid out before them.

All that that has nothing to do with a building. It is fundamental to a Christ-centered church. The story comes to life by those that are part of that family and earnestly seeking others with which to share Christ-like love and ministry. The individual stories come out of “doing church” day-to-day, every day. The stories have impact on lives. Eternal impact.  

Could we have this type of story for years to come at Pathway, and the impact on lives through Pathway worshiping at a school or some other rented space? Maybe.  Personally, I believe we are severely hindered by not having a permanent home. I also believe we are at risk with a new church beginning to be built across the street from Crown Point Christian School and need a sense of urgency to move ahead.  That sense of urgency needs to be backed up through action.

Make no mistake. I am thankful for those that I know take action at Pathway in many forms daily! The action I believe is needed is to move ahead quickly to a permanent space. I hope the green lights keep coming for Northwoods as we proceed through the process.  

A particular challenge is fear of the unknown. Like many, I want a good solid plan that is easy to visualize and execute with minimal risk. When the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed, that is when I’m most comfortable moving ahead.

God never seems to work that way! His plan always seems to be so far outside the box, if we actually knew what He was going to do next, we would just consider it nuts and never do anything. Maybe sometimes, it’s just better that we must trust Him, and move ahead step-by-step as the way is cleared to proceed. Many times in my personal life, those times where I had to completely trust Him and had no idea what was coming next, and felt no control, were the times I grew the most in my Christian walk.  

Pathway as a church feels like that sometimes. Northwoods as an opportunity absolutely feels like that. Outside of the box. Maybe kind of nuts. Not sure what’s coming next. Best to trust God, and not know everything so we must rely on Him for guidance.  

My near-term vision would be that we all would be able to envision that the property has enormous potential to become what we need it to be. Looking past the current state is not always easy. And while some things must be repaired or remodeled to become serviceable and begin ministry, much does not have to happen immediately.  Like the path we have been on as a church, we can wait for it to unfold, naturally as more is made clear.  

Additionally, I hope the financial message is clear. We are not out saving the year-over-year cost increases at our current pace to achieve building on our current property. Without significant uptick in financial building support or miraculous intervention, we will not be able to build in the next 5 years. The buildings that we currently cannot afford to build on our property would also require additions and are scoped smaller in size than what Northwoods already is.

My longer-term vision would be that it would be made clear what the right ministries and programs are, and we would see the individual stories of healing, transformation, and salvation come to light as He works through us. That we would be encouraged and energized by what is happening within the family of God at Pathway Church and our “story” would be one of true generational impact and community outreach that continues growing instead of like those fictional stories that grab our attention for a while but quickly fade. I want to witness the story where I can say, “If the Gospel can transform that dude (or dudette), the Gospel can transform anyone.” Be drawn in further. And be part of it happening over and over and over.  

In Christ,
Mark Barnes  




Worshiping At

Illiana Christian High School Commons

10920 Calumet Avenue, Dyer, Indiana
Sunday 10:00 AM

Enter through the North Entrance of the school  


Office Location
11101 W. 97th Lane
St. John, Indiana 46373

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 62
St. John, Indiana 46373