Christ Church named one of the fastest-growing churches in America
Outreach Magazine and Lifeway Research announced that Christ Church in Fairview Heights as a member of the 2018 Outreach 100, that includes the 100 fastest-growing churches in America. Christ Church is listed as 54th on the list of 100.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop, the church’s senior pastor, attributes much of the success of Christ Church to remaining focused on their mission to connect people to Jesus Christ. “When we connect people with Jesus, we are able to overcome other things for which we may disagree,” says Bishop. “The predominance of our mission gives people something everyone can lean into even though they may think differently about lots of other things.”
The mission of connecting people to Jesus also extends to their children’s ministry. In 2016, Christ Church finished its three-story children’s wing that caters to children between the ages of 3 months to 12 years. The children receive specialized messages and worship while their parents attend the adult services. Located in a newly renovated space on the opposite side of the church is Christ Church Teens. Meeting Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, Christ Church’s 7th-12th grade student ministry has seen rapid growth over the last two years.
“The student ministry at Christ Church has been in a constant state of excitement for a few years now. Recently, we have had the biggest attendance in our teen ministry’s existence,” reported Zach Funk, the student ministry director. “Our students are excited that we are consistently seeing students giving their lives to Christ. Every week we see brand new visitors, and teens excited about the surge in our ministry. We have a fun, energetic, welcoming, and alive group with a leadership team that is second to none. Our student space is spectacular with two outdoor spaces, a ball field, gym, lounge, loft, and coffee cafe. We exist to connect students with Jesus Christ and equip them to live out their faith and we have a lot of fun doing just that.”
One of the more unique and impactful ministries at Christ Church is its Wonderfully Made ministry. Rachel Frazure, Director of the Special Needs Ministry had this to say about Wonderfully Made, “The goal of our ministry is to ensure that those with various special needs and their family members feel welcomed, loved, and cared for while at church. It is a blessing to see children, students, and adults with special needs learning about the love of Jesus Christ, while becoming an active part of the Christ Church community. Family members of those with special needs are also finding their own community and purpose within the church! Our Wonderfully Made Ministry team, made up of Buddies and Mentors, is a crucial part of this ministry, serving those with special needs with love, joy, and excellence. There has been substantial growth within the Wonderfully Made Ministry, and we are excited about the future of this ministry - in connecting more individuals within the special needs community with Jesus Christ.”
Another key factor in the success of Christ Church is its multitude of worship times and locations. At its main campus in Fairview Heights, four services are offered on Sunday at 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:30 p.m.. All four services share the same contemporary worship experience and message. Don Frazure, Pastor of Worship Arts said “While our worship style is contemporary, the structure of our worship services is based on the time-honored four-fold order of worship consisting of gathering together, hearing the Word of God, responding to the Word, and being sent out to serve. We love being a multi-generational church where grandparents and grandchildren worship alongside one another. Each campus also has a distinct style - all contemporary, but incorporating the diverse talents and specific strengths of each location.”
The Wednesday ‘Going Deeper’ service is an ‘unplugged' contemporary service with a major portion of the service spent in Bible study led by Rev. Bishop. Said Bishop, “Wednesday night worship has changed the whole pace of this church. It’s been an unqualified success.” He attributes the popularity of the service to multiple factors, including the fact quite a few members work in retail or the medical field, which requires them to work on weekends.
In addition to its Fairview Heights location, Christ Church hosts services at their satellite campuses in Collinsville, outside of Scott Air Force Base, and Millstadt. For those people who travel, or are unable to make it to a campus, Christ Church video streams their services online through their Facebook page.
Lisa Safarian, a member of Christ Church since 2000, says that the congregation runs the gamut on age, race, background and socioeconomic status.
“We love to worship, we take care of each other, we love to do service and most importantly we all know that the reason we are here is to connect people to Jesus Christ,” says Safarian. “My husband and I have attended Christ Church for 19 years. During that time, we have seen amazing miracles, souls that have been saved, and incredible outreach in our church, community, and in other countries.