More than 150 years ago, a church sprouted up in the small town of Croton, Ohio. Today most people would still consider Croton Church of Christ to be a small church, hovering around 160 weekly attendees. At its biggest, the church boasted about 250. There are only about 400 people in the entire town of Croton.
“As a congregation, we are blessed to be such a big draw in the community,” Dan Hamilton said. “This is where folks come during the week, especially on Sundays.”
Dan moved to Croton 34 years ago to become the church’s senior minister. He and his wife, Karen, hoped Croton would be the place they would raise their children. It was.
“It’s a neat community and a neat congregation to raise a family,” Dan said. “They have always been supportive of us, and the congregation has felt like family too. Our children, even though they live away from here now, still would call Croton home.”
But a lot has changed over the years.
Everyone Left—the Church Stayed
“Sad to say, the village of Croton has changed from an almost Mayberry environment where everybody knows everybody,” Dan said. “The elementary school left, and the economy was tough on everybody. Many businesses left. It’s become quieter here.”
But Croton Church of Christ remained.
Over time the makeup of the community changed, and its needs became more transparent. Substance abuse and poverty became more common. But where others may have seen only growing darkness, Dan and his church saw opportunities to shine Christ’s light.
“We’re reaching out to a whole different group of people now,” Dan said. “We started a food pantry several years ago. It started out very small, but because of the growing need in the area it’s become a very large ministry. Several people in the congregation work in the food pantry on a weekly basis. We work with the local grocery store and get a truckload of food from them. We also work with the local food bank, and the congregation finds out about people who have needs. We’ve gotten some converts from that.”
The church has also consistently been considered not just a safe place for kids, but a place where they are valued. Croton Church of Christ prioritizes youth and children’s ministry, ensuring that kids receive the age-appropriate teaching they need to mature spiritually as well as physically.
“Even though we’re a smaller church, I think we have a larger church mentality,” Dan said. “We’ve always been very youth oriented, even though we’re an older congregation.”
“There are lots of opportunities. We just need to be available where the Lord has us.” —Dan Hamilton
Where Lord Has Us
After more than 34 years with the same church, it would be easy for a minister to slip into a groove and stop doing the hard work it takes to innovate and grow. But Dan and the leaders of Croton Church of Christ are pushing each other to resist that temptation.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get comfortable,” Dan said. “I’ve been here long enough, and there’s a good trust level. If we’re not careful, we get into a routine. So we’ve always had to challenge each other to keep stretching ourselves. That’s difficult because we’re in an environment where everyone is pretty much happy, but we need to remember the Lord wants more.”
Dan believes the key to his perseverance with Croton has been his love for the people of in his community and his continued belief that he is where God has called him to be.
“Sometimes as ministers we think the grass is greener or that there’s a more exciting ministry elsewhere; there are lots of opportunities, even in small congregations in small communities,” Dan said. “We just need to be available where the Lord has us.”
Helping Other Churches Grow
Dan is the senior minister of a small church in a small town and part of a legacy of believers that have made it their mission to transform Croton, Ohio. He also cares about expanding God’s Kingdom to transform the world.
That is why Dan has been a CDF investor for more than a decade.
“I saw the advertisement on the back of The Lookout magazine maybe 15 years ago,” he said. “We were really impressed with what CDF was doing as far as building churches, and the interest rate was right for us to invest and save up for retirement. In the contact I’ve had with CDF, I appreciate what they do to help churches grow.”
While Dan serves in Croton, his money goes to work providing church loans all across the country. That means more churches can get the funding they need to keep growing, and more people are hearing the good news of the gospel and the life-changing truth about Jesus Christ.
“The more I do ministry, the more my heart’s desire is to simply make disciples and help them grow,” Dan said.
More Than Just Interest
When you invest with CDF Capital, you’re gaining more than just interest. You’re partnering with us to help other churches grow. Click below to see how you can play a part in the story of transformation.