A year ago, Christ’s Community Christian Reformed Church in Chandler, Ariz., struggled to find a way to maintain itself, including its weekly worship.
Jonathan Gerstner (right) and Michael Gowans in front of their shared sign.
“We had lost virtually all our youth and young families,” said Jonathan Gerstner, the church’s pastor. “If we couldn't turn the trend around, we would die as a congregation.”
But a new partnership has saved the church.
Gerstner approached Michael Gowans, lead pastor of Bethel Church, a local church plant of a different denomination, about an urgent need for a worship leader or team. Gerstner also he mentioned that there was rental space available in the church’s 24-year-old facility.
Bethel immediately responded by sharing their dynamic worship praise team with Christ’s Community. Bethel also revitalized Christ’s Community sanctuary, freshening up the 1980s decor.
Each church operates separately but partners in sharing their gifts and vision. Christ’s Community shares its large facility in prime real estate in Chandler. It shares its GEMS and Cadet programs, and its doctrine-based leadership training.
Bethel brings their fresh, fruitful evangelism approach and their youth ministry activities, while continuing to share their worship team.
Gowans said, “Christ’s Community is like a fireplace. It has all the structure, facilities, foundational doctrine, and is rich in discipleship training. Bethel has the fire.”
The churches have a shared vision: Ten church plants in ten years, as well as cross-generational events like block parties, and outreach to youth and those who are homeless.
Gerstner said that Christ’s Community and Bethel are on the brink of birthing a new church.
The pastors said the churches honor and encourage each other instead of focusing on territories, barriers, money, conflict, and styles. They choose to focus on their unifying commitment in seeing lives transformed through the gospel.
“This is not a consumer-based relationship,” said Gowans, “It is what we can do together, walking humbly by God’s grace and exalting God alone.”