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Looking at local churches: Blythefield Hills

The congregation sang contemporary worship songs Sunday. Photo by Megan Mann.

The congregation sang contemporary worship songs Sunday. Photo by Megan Mann.

The congregation sang contemporary worship songs Sunday. Photo by Megan Mann.

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Blythefield Hills Baptist Church is a flourishing Baptist community of believers in Rockford, about twenty-five minutes from Calvin’s campus. Its large weekly crowds at both its 9 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. services include an array of Calvin students, from lifelong attenders like sophomore Nate Schuyten to new recruits drawn by Blythefield’s contemporary worship, biblically-based teaching and traditional Baptist theology.

In any given service, a visitor can expect to find biblically-based teaching with real life examples and application, contemporary worship with a mixture of both hymns and popular new songs and theology centered on Christ, the truth of Scripture, repentance, the Trinity and the Christian life.

During the 10:50 Sunday service, college students gather together near the front of the sanctuary to worship, learn and fellowship together. These students gather again on Tuesday nights for their college-only group, 18:29, which appropriately meets at 6:29 p.m.

Schuyten said that even though he grew up attending Blythefield, he continued going because he loves feeling like a part of a church family and he loves the church’s openness to people. Blythefield verges between a mega-church and a close-knit community. Its emphasis on small-group ministries addresses the problem of individuals becoming lost in the crowds and the problem of developing a close community in a church so large.

On Sunday mornings, in addition to the two main services, Sunday schools, prayer groups, small groups and children’s ministries are all taking place. Another unique ministry of Blythefield is its ministry for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities who participate in a service specially tailored to them during the main services each week.

Despite its location in a predominantly white neighborhood, Blythefield embraces members from all backgrounds. The church also partners with local organizations to show God’s love to those in the community, especially focusing on areas such as orphans, refugees, the homeless, those in crisis and others both locally and globally.

Blythefield’s sprawling building can be a bit confusing for newcomers, but each stairwell and hidden corner tells the story of the church’s growth. Blythefield was once a small church, but as the outreach ministries and congregation expanded, the church that once was has now gained many additions. These additions can turn a visitor around, but they also provide space for the ministries happening both on Sunday mornings and during the week.

According to Schuyten, “You should go to Blythefield because they emphasize the truth of Scripture and give you sound theological teaching from people who care about you.” Blythefield, though a bit far from campus, is a valuable option for Calvin’s conservative students and for those looking to be involved in a growing church and in a small group of like-minded believers.

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