Supporting a New Vision for Mission: First Baptist Church of Ashland

Out of a desire to change its culture from the inside out for more effective community ministry, First Baptist Church of Ashland invited Arrabon to work with it’s leadership and congregation to shape a different experience and vision.


5 minutes

Nov 12, 2021

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First Baptist Church of Ashland engaged Arrabon to help it explore a new sense of mission in the face of demographic changes in its congregation and surrounding community. Arrabon worked with its leadership and congregation to help change the church’s culture from the inside out for more effective community ministry.

We brought Arrabon in because we were really struggling to make a path that could get us from where we were to where we wanted to be. I know I needed outside help. I needed someone else to say things that needed to be said while also caring for people and about people through the process.

Josh Hayden


In 2017 First Baptist was intentionally working to “re-mission” – to live into the mission of God again – as a historically white and affluent church serving in the midst of a changing demographic neighborhood. The church was especially struggling with generational gaps and a fixed mindset around styles of worship and preferences for certain types of ministry. Rev. Josh Hayden recognized that for the church to successfully re-mission it needed to grow in cultural intelligence – to better understand who the church was, who the community was, and where the gaps were.


Through a series of engagements over multiple years, beginning in 2017 Arrabon worked with First Baptist’s leadership team to identify a common vision and language for becoming a more reconciling community using content that is now available in its three group workshops: Foundations, Creating and Action Plan, and Engaging a Reconciling Community. Arrabon also shared its Philosophy of Worship and Reconciliation with the church’s leadership team and collaborated with them to create new sermon series, songs, and liturgies to better support the work of reconciliation. Finally, it provided community learning resources, now available as the Race, Class, and The Kingdom of God study series to educate the congregation about issues of race from a biblical and historical point of view.


Rev. Josh Hayden and others from their team describe their experience with Arrabon as being one of mutual friendship and common purpose. While the change First Baptist experienced originated in its own commitment to be a church focused on rediscovering how God was inviting them to love their community, Arrabon played a critical role in helping them learn how to navigate that change with wisdom and grace.

Arrabon coached, consulted, and modeled with us – and for us – how to have conversations about race in ways that were really productive and important for our congregation. The long term effect is that we are able to navigate much more complex conversations now without detonating a landmine every single time we talk.”

Rev. Josh Hayden


Today, First Baptist Church of Ashland has a clear sense of mission to serve and love its neighbors. It actively partners with a neighboring historically Black congregation in joint ministry endeavors throughout the year. The impact is significant. A parishioner from this neighboring congregation recently remarked, “I used to drive through town and think just about my church, but now both churches feel like home.”

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