By MARK DUBOVEC Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010
After relocating from Upper Arlington in July and changing its name to reflect the move, the nondenominational church will hold its first services Sunday, Sept. 12, at its new location, 751 Northwest Blvd. John Myer, the church’s pastor, said the location was chosen to invoke a simple, coffeeshop-style atmosphere.
“A fair consensus of this generation is that there’s too much pageantry and performance,” Myer said. “We’re trying to get away from the realm of performance and just give people who we really are.”
Jeff Friess, associate pastor, said the church offers a warm, welcoming niche.
“What we’ve found from a lot of people coming to our services is they have more interest in an intimate, smaller setting,” Friess said. “They find it easier to penetrate the community rather than be a face in the crowd.”
Myer said the congregation gathers at 11 a.m. each Sunday for refreshments, singing, announcements and a sermon from him, about 40 minutes long. Afterward, everyone splits into smaller groups to go out into the community for activities and discussion.
“The majority of what goes on with us is probably outside in the community,” Myer said. “I can’t keep up with all of them on my calendar because they’re generated by our members and not church leadership.”
Some activities scheduled throughout the fall, Friess said, include an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, booths at the Taste of Grandview and the Pumpkin Run, and watching Ohio State University football games together.
He said new members will have more opportunities to participate depending on their comfort level.
Getting involved with the community is at the center of the church. Friess said although today’s generation lives in one of the most technologically connected societies in history, people still struggle to develop personal connections.
“With all this technology, the No. 1 cry of people is, ‘I don’t have any friends’,” Friess said. “That’s what a community is. You have an environment where you can make some real friends.”
Grandview Christian Assembly’s congregation largely comprises people just out of college or in graduate school, between the ages of 23 and 30. Friess said it began as a spinoff of Oasis Christian Community at Ohio State University, which works primarily with underclassmen.
Friess said students often are uncertain about their lives once they graduate.
“Suddenly, they’re thrown out into the world where they don’t have the same structured community,” Friess said. “We started to hear from a lot of seniors and grad students who … were starting to have different needs.”
As the church grows, Friess said he hopes it attracts more families.
“I’m 39, been married seven years and have two small children,” Friess said. “We’d like to see more people in my demographic.”
He said more families provide examples of the next life stage for congregation members just out of school. One service for families, which Friess said he’s excited for, is the new children’s church, offering child care while teaching children the Bible and making it fun for them.
Myer said the goal of the church remains to teach the Bible while moving away from what he called the “old Middle Ages feel.”
“We’re not changing the message,” he said. “We believe the message is timeless.”
Myer said the church also tries to give people a community where they feel supported and needed.
“We all need tremendous help in this world,” Myer said, “and if the church isn’t going to give it, where are you going to get it?”
Friess said the congregation is excited to be in Grandview Heights.
“We really feel we have something to offer,” he said.