In the Midwest District of the EFCA, a prominent Evangelical Free Church is turning 30 in 2019. This post is about Tom Nelson’s Christ Community Church and the ways this church is celebrating over the course of the year. This blog has heard positive things about this EFCA church and wants to take a step back from scandal and issues to wish Christ Community Church well. It is serving the Kansas City and Kansas area well.
“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.”
“Looking back, we remember and give thanks for the Lord’s gracious faithfulness to us. Now as a multisite congregation spread throughout our city, let us embrace the fruitful future our Lord has for us with humility of heart, unity of purpose, fervent prayer, and bold faith.”
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2: 1-3 ESV
Christ Community Church in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri
A well established and known Evangelical Free Chruch in the EFCA’s Midwest District is turning 30 in 2019. This post is mainly about the anniversary events at Christ Community Church that will be occurring this year.
Christ Community Church Began 30 Years Ago
Thirty years ago Christ Community Church began with Tom and Liz Nelson. This church had very humble roots and slowly grew over the course of time. Its first worship service was held on March 5, 1989 in Prairie Village, Kansas. Today Christ Community has five locations in the Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri area. I researched and wrote the history of Christ Community in late 2018, and you can read that in, “Tyler Chernesky of Christ Community Church in Kansas City on Friendship and Proverbs. Seeing What was Taught in a Sermon Play Out in Kansas and Missouri.” Recently at the Christ Community Church blog Tom Nelson wrote a post reflecting on the past thirty years of Christ Community Church. Here is how Tom’s blog post begins.
When Liz and I arrived in Kansas City to begin Christ Community, we had never served in a pastoral role before, and we had few resources. We felt God had called us to a bold-faith mission, but transparently, there were times failure seem to stare us in the face and everything felt fragile.
From the very start, we believed God was birthing Christ Community to be a quiet catalyst for spiritual awakening. We were to be a church anchored not in pastoral personality or some human vision, but rather in a disciple-making mission. That compelling mission, to be a caring family of multiplying disciples influencing our community and world for Jesus Christ, has remained at the heart of who we are continually becoming and all that we are doing in advancing Christ’s kingdom in the world. Undergirding our mission is an unwavering belief that the local church, as God designed it, is the hope of the world.
As I reflect on the past 30 years, my heart is filled with gratitude to God and to all who have made Christ Community their church home and have invested time, talent, and treasure so generously. God’s miraculous provision, extraordinary favor, and watchful presence have been a constant reality on our journey of faith.
You can read the remainder of the post right here.
Celebration Events Planned for 2019
Christ Community Church is planning a number of events to commemorate its thirty anniversary this year. The events kick off in early April with “Stories of Bold Faith.” It is being held on April 15 at the Brookside and downtown location at 6:30 and continues to 8:00 p.m. Leawood is hosting on April 16, and then you can participate in “Stories of Bold Faith” on April 25, at Olathe and Shawnee. The times for all locations begin at 6:30. Here is how the event is being described. “Each gathering will feature games, goodies, and delicious desserts, and all of Christ Community’s campus pastors, along with our senior pastors, will be in attendance. These events will give participants time to connect with one another and to hear the story of God’s big answers to our big prayers. We will also take time at each gathering to explore how each of us can continue to contribute to Christ Community’s faithful and fruitful presence reaching Kansas City, sharing updates on where we are with our Shawnee and Downtown spaces and providing opportunities to make a decision about giving towards these projects.”
In June, July and August Christ Community is spending time working with its ministry partners. Those opportunities will be presented in its magazine. On August 2, 2019 the downtown location of Christ Community Church is holding an invitational art exhibit called, “Flourish.” This no doubt is in reference to Tom Nelson’s “Made to Flourish” ministry. On October 11, Os Guinness who is involved in The Falls Church Anglican in the Washington, D.C. area will speak about Christians and culture at the the Leawood campus. There is one issue that deeply troubles me about this that needs to be made. Os Guinness is known for his work on evangelicals and culture and there is one key mistake that is being made. Os Guinness has a relationship with Ravi Zacharias ministries. One would think that Os, especially for his talks about Christian culture, would be troubled to allow a questionable ministry such as Ravi Zacharias to promote his material. Ravi, who embellished his academic credentials of Oxford and allegedly engaged in sexting with a married Canadian woman would raise some concerns. This issue has been covered and reported on by Steve Boughman, an atheist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Warren Throckmorton a Christian professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania who is best known for using his blog to help dismantle the Mark Driscoll cult in Seattle which was known as Mars Hill. You can read Warren Throckmorton’s articles here. Moving on to Christ Community Church, this organization will be ending its year long festivities with baptisms at the Olathe campus on November 10, 2019.
Feedback on Christ Community is Positive
In writing about the EFCA as a project and working with people around the United States I get a lot of feedback on differing Evangelical Free Churches. What happens is that I will hear about issues or problems. In the case of Christ Community Church I have heard the opposite instead. I have heard as to how much people enjoy Tom Nelson’s church and how solid it is as an institution. That is good, and this writer is grateful that Christ Community Church is an asset to the Kansas City area. I did have the opportunity to sit through a service at their downtown location last fall. There were no red flags, and I observed nothing which raised concerns. That is not always the case, especially as I travel and sit in a large number of EFCA church services. Sometimes there are giveaways to churches that I have sat in that reveal problems and issues. But the situation at Christ Community is different than at another large EFCA Church in the EFCA’s Midwest District. At First Evangelical Free in Wichita, Kansas which is run by Josh Black they have had a host of issues. At that 9 Marks church authoritarianism runs rampant. The core pillar in the EFCA the “Significance of Silence” was violated when Josh Black allegedly fired a popular youth pastor for not being a Calvinist. And then before Josh even led the church as senior pastor, First Free allegedly had issues with sexual harassment. This blog has been approached about First Free Wichita, and that is how I usually learn about issues in differing churches. But in returning to the subject of Christ Community Church the feedback I get from people is strong and positive. Its slightly reformed as Tom Nelson is active and on the council in The Gospel Coalition and he recently spoke at the last EFCA theology conference which you can read about in, “The 2019 EFCA Theology Conference: The Doctrine of Creation.” This church also is referenced in the greater EFCA and has a unique position in the organization. But this blog is grateful for the positive feedback I hear about. There are aspects to Christ Community Church that would be interesting to note. For example how many baptisms have taken place over the last thirty years? How many worship services have been held? How many Bible studies have taken place in that period of time? How many missions trips and weddings have taken place. Hopefully during this year that information will come forward.
These are the Posts That I Enjoy Writing
Its easy to focus on corruption and scandal. And this blog has done so frequently. Recently its been consumed in writing about the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in Chicago and the abuse that took place under James MacDonald. But honestly as someone who writes heavily what I would prefer in the grand scheme is to write a blog that is balanced. Honestly I would rather write stories like Christ Community Church turning thirty, and not about how James MacDonald allegedly wanted to plant child pornography on the computer of the CEO of Christianity Today because he was angry about the “coverage.” But I wanted to take a step back and draw attention to this milestone situation in the EFCA’s Midwest District. I could easily write another post about issues in an EFCA church but I also seek balance in pointing out the positive when an EFCA church actually does something solid and contributes to the community. There are pockets of good inside the EFCA and I am on the lookout for them. That is what is taking place in Kansas City and Kansas with Christ Community Church. This blog looks forward to hearing about its developments and news as time passes on. And this blog would also like to wish Tom Nelson and the staff a good year as they celebrate this achievement. Though I am living in the Washington, D.C. area if I lived in the Kansas City metropolitan area I would hang out from time to time in the different locations at Christ Community. As someone on the edge I have heard enough to communicate that this is a safe place and one that is fine. That is good to know and its my hope that Christ Community Church continues to serve the community well. God speed and good luck as you move froward.