Christ Church exploring possibility of Carbondale area satellite campus
By Larry Weber
Director of Campus Development
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS -- Christ Church in Fairview Heights has begun the exploration phase for its next satellite campus in the Carbondale area.
Two identical sessions to gauge the viability of this venture are being held April 30 and May 3. Through social media and personal contacts, Christ Church leaders are inviting people who are not currently connected to any church to attend and hear the vision for this new campus.
The IGRC Congregational Development Team has approved a small grant for Christ Church to explore the viability of a Carbondale satellite campus. A third dinner meeting will be held in early summer if there is sufficient interest from among unconnected people residing in the area.
A unique venture
Christ Church has always begun its satellite campuses by sending 50 Pioneers from other Christ Church locations for a minimum commitment of 50 weeks. That model is not practical for the new satellite campus in Carbondale. Instead the church will be looking for 50 from the Carbondale area, that is, 50 people willing to commit to fully engaging in this new endeavor, especially by inviting others to join them at the new campus.
Currently Christ has three campuses. The Collinsville-Maryville Campus started in 2011 in the Maryville YMCA and has now moved into 24/7/365 space in the Orchard’s Shopping Center across from Dorris Intermediate School in Collinsville.
In 2012, Christ started the Millstadt Campus in the Millstadt Primary Center. It has now moved into 24/7/365 space in the Millstadt Market Place across from Lee’s Home Center. And in 2014 Christ Church began a new satellite campus near Scott Air Force Base in the former Shiloh Valley Grange building.
A five-year journey
In 2013 Rev. Roger Russell, Cache River District Superintendent, in his role as chief mission strategist, began conversations with Rev. Mike Crawford, IGRC Coordinator of Congregational Development, about his perceived need for a different style of United Methodist Church in the Carbondale area. In the early conversations, they were not able to identify a model or means which seemed likely to achieve a viable new church.
In late 2017, with knowledge that Rev. Jim Slone planned to retire to southern Illinois in 2018, Rev. Russell re-opened discussion with Bishop, Crawford, resident bishop, Bishop Frank J. Beard and the other IGRC Cabinet members. This conversation led to the idea of an exploratory strategy which was approved by the Cabinet and the Committee on Congregational Development.
Should the new satellite campus have sufficient support to begin meeting on a regular basis, Christ Church will seek additional funding from the Congregational Development Team to begin a mid-week Going Deeper Service. These mid-week services are followed that same evening by discussion groups, questions about what was taught provided to the discussion group leaders. Other Bible Study small groups will be organized nearly immediately after the launch by Roger Lipe, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Area Coordinator who has also agreed to be a part of the campus. As the new campus reaches a critical mass of attendees, a Sunday morning Worship Service will begin.
Christ Church campuses are video venues with live praise and worship teams. Other Christ Church campuses have utilized bi-vocational leadership to reach their communities with the core ministries of worship, children and youth, adult discipleship, outreach and high levels of hospitality. The CM Campus currently has 130 in attendance on average each week; Millstadt nearly 85; and Scott nearly 85 as well. Each campus has identified and partnered with a local ministry, such as community soup kitchens, food pantries, and programs that serve children before and after school.
The Christ Church Carbondale satellite campus will have the Christ Church DNA since the church does not plan to charter the satellites as United Methodist churches. The Christ Church mission states that: “we exist to Connect People with Jesus Christ.” The Christ Church strategy is to reach out, welcome and disciple through worship and service. And the expected result is disciples who meet the Christ Church standard of Worship plus Two (in a group and serving others) and a Tithe.
To assure these aspects of the Christ Church DNA are met, local leadership will meet at least monthly with the Director of Campus Development who will also attend the Carbondale Campus periodically. Christ Church also has quarterly campus leaders’ meetings held at Fairview Heights. And strong communication links are established to meet the needs of the campus between the times of those meetings.
Ultimately, if God is not in the midst of this new campus endeavor, it will not go forward. If God is, it cannot be stopped. But it will all begin with those first meetings.
Want to learn more?
If your church is dreaming about or considering multisite ministry, you are encouraged to contact Rev. Mike Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss models, strategy, and training opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about Fairview Heights Christ’s approach to multisite, contact Larry Weber at email@example.com.