From “The Barn” to today, here’s a brief overview of Great Oaks’ story…
First, a Note about Our REAL Story
Like all churches, the Real Story of Great Oaks can’t be told through things like dates, buildings, and numbers. Our Real Story is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life, teaching, death, and resurrection has shaped our lives, and the Christian transformation and fellowship that comes through Him is what makes up our true church story.
A collection of shared faith experiences – baptisms, Bible classes, worship services, youth events, fellowship activities, smiles, tears, service projects, songs, prayers, conversations, mission trips, outreach events, steps of faith, hopes for the future – these are the things that make up a congregation’s personality and story. The one story of God working through many individual life stories and bringing them together in Christ.
So at our heart, we’d like to think that a shared love for God is what makes up our congregation’s DNA. We would love for you to visit us and become part of our Real Story, of Christ living and working through us!
But as far as the “history” part – when we started, how we’ve grown, how our building got to where it is – here is that part of the story…
Planning – In early 1992 – before the Wolfchase Galleria mall was built and when much of Germantown Road was only 2 lanes – several local Christian families saw the need for a congregation in the already-growing Brunswick area of northeast Shelby County.
5 of those families began the process of planting a church, deciding to call it Great Oaks Church of Christ. The founding group was made up by the families of Larry and Pattye Jackson, Ronnie and Debbie Martin, Rick and Carol Martin, Marvin Mann, and David and Kay Looney. Ms. Ellen Davies Rodgers allowed them to rent a renovated barn she owned in the Davies Plantation area, called Hill’s Barn. (Hill’s Barn is now known as Hillwood, a popular wedding and reception location.)
Planting – Great Oaks first worship assembly gathered on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21st, 1992. The congregation was self-sufficient from the beginning, with no outside financial assistance. Very soon, Great Oaks would begin supporting other mission works.
Several foundational goals of the Great Oaks congregation began with that early group, including: an emphasis on helping God’s kingdom grow, a commitment to showing Christian love to everyone who walks in the door, a love for mission work, and a desire to honor God through a Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church culture.
Great Oaks met in “The Barn” from 1992 until early 1995. (There are still several “Barn People” in the Great Oaks congregation, which has become a title of pride!) On January 22nd, 1995, they moved a couple miles into their new building at the church’s current location, 3355 Brunswick Road. By this time the church had grown from 5 families to over 110.
Over the years, God continued to bless Great Oaks with growth in numbers, leadership, ministries, mission works, and outreach efforts. To accommodate the numerical growth, a new classroom wing and fellowship facility was built in 1998, and in 2010, another wing was added for Bible classes, a new youth room, and the Mother’s Day Out program.
In September 2013, Great Oaks became a bilingual church family. 14 Spanish-speaking families became part of our church family, and we began having weekly Bible classes and worship services in Spanish. “Two Languages, One Faith” became a motto of unity among our church family, one that we still celebrate several times a year in combined worship services.
In 2015, Great Oaks has now been shining God’s light for about 23 years. The congregation has grown from 5 families to over 230 families. We are led by 8 godly elders. We have 22 deacons leading various ministries. We support mission and outreach efforts around the world, as well as 4 local ministers: a preaching minister, a youth/family minister, a college/young adult minister, and a Spanish minister. We are blessed to have the inter-generational fellowship of a full 5-generation church family. Like all church families, we have our strengths and our weaknesses, but we are extremely thankful for the way God has blessed us in these first 23 years.
We are a church family that hasn’t stopped dreaming. We are constantly praying and keeping our eyes open for better ways to share the love of God and to help each other grow in faith.
Several open doors for our future are already becoming clear. We have been blessed with 200 young people from birth through college-age, giving us a valuable opportunity to help raise another generation of faith in the coming years. Standing united as a bilingual church family has already opened doors for both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking outreach, and we believe those outreach opportunities will increase. We also believe there are many doors still to be opened through the partnerships we’ve begun in both local and global outreach.
God has continued to bless Great Oaks with new faces and new open doors, and we believe our best days are still ahead of us. We would love to have you join us in lifting up the name of God in the Brunswick/Wolfchase community and around the world!