Looking at local churches: Christ Church

The congregation gathers in the church sanctuary. Photo courtesy Christ Church.

The congregation gathers in the church sanctuary. Photo courtesy Christ Church.

Christ Church is an inclusive, intergenerational body of believers belonging to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Christ Church is committed to welcoming the 30 or more students from Calvin, Cornerstone, GVSU and GRCC who attend each week. While most students attend the 11:15 service, there is also an 8:30 service offered Sunday mornings.

“One thing that is pretty unique [about Christ Church] is the age distribution,” said senior Sasha Tyan. “Christ Church has a pretty even spread across all age ranges. I think this is healthy and find it unfortunate not more churches are like that.”

One way the church encourages students to attend is by offering rides to and from campus each week. In addition, Christ Church has a group of college-age students called Hot Topics that meets Sundays at 10 to discuss important, relevant issues.

Students can become involved in the Christ Church community through various ministries. There are weekly Sunday School classes, a new members class, small groups, sermon discussion groups and men’s and women’s ministries. Music is also an integral aspect of life at Christ Church; the community has an adult choir, a children’s choir and a band for special occasions. On the first Saturday of the month, a group gathers to practice the early American tradition of shape note singing. This group is open to everyone, and involves singing songs in acapella, four-part harmony from the Sacred Harp hymnal.

Tyan has had a positive experience participating in some of the programs Christ Church offers: “My favorite part of the Christ Church is their theological self-awareness. At one of their introductory classes for new members, I was impressed by how systematic and clear they are in regards to where they stand in relation to the Bible, as well as to other theological currents and other churches. They are able to identify clearly what is essential to them, like the divinity of Christ and the Gospel, for example, but also things that are important, but not as central, like stances on abortion and homeschooling.”

One way Christ Church develops its vision is through weekly worship. Services are distinctly liturgical; the congregation is led through the first part of the liturgy by a deacon, and then a pastor or teaching elder delivers a scripture-based sermon during the second part of the service.

Tyan has been attending since September and appreciates the diversity of worship styles: “Sometimes they have the strings and choir, sometimes there’s organ, and sometimes it’s guitars and drums.”  The wide range of musical worship styles is a notable characteristic of Christ Church.

According to the church website, “This diversity in worship is truly one of Christ Church’s most treasured distinctives and a means by which each member submits their own preferences for the sake of a full-orbed expression of worship to God and an act of love for another.”

Christ Church hopes that its diverse worship styles will be reflected in the diversity of its congregation. Looking ahead, Christ Church anticipates planting a church on the west side of Grand Rapids to attract and increasingly ethnically diverse congregation.