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Hundreds attend launch of Christ Church Esplanade.

Byline: Submitted by Greg King

More than 500 people attended the launch of Christ Church Esplanade in Downers Grove, the first multisite branch of nondenominational Christ Church in Oak Brook.

The new church, which opened last month, comes at a time when 80 percent of churches nationwide are either in decline or have plateaued.

"We hope to be a place that gives people a new experience that is both engaging and inviting," said the Rev. Eric Camfield, campus pastor. "We want to bring the church experience into the present -- which is crucial to reversing the decline in church membership and attendance across the nation."

Research conducted by MultiSite Solutions in 2017 shows that within a 10-minute radius of the new church location in Downers Grove there are approximately 250,000 unchurched people.

"We saw a need for a new kind of church in the West suburban area," Camfield said. "We want to revitalize the expression of church in our day so more people can grow and serve while being part of a caring community."

A study by Jeffrey C. Farmer at Tennessee Temple University found overall attendance rose more than 20 percent at newly planted churches. The research shows that unchurched Americans and those not happy with their current church see new churches as a chance for change. It's an opportunity to breathe new life into the church experience by modernizing how people worship, while adding to what they experience by attending services.

Christ Church takes a classic but current approach to worship services by offering both classic and contemporary services at the Oak Brook location, a contemporary hybrid at the Downers Grove location, and online livestreaming of services as well as broadcasting sermons on radio and television.

The Downers Grove site, housed inside the corporate Esplanade building, benefits from floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lake and nature preserve.

"During a very moving worship service, a beautiful scene of blowing snow began outside," said Amy Moran, Christ Church Esplanade executive assistant. "With all the windows looking out over the lake, it was like being inside a snow globe."

The first day, Feb. 4, saw more than 70 Serve Team members arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. to begin the setup process, and hundreds of people staying after the worship service for pizza, celebration and fellowship. Christ Church Senior Pastor the Rev. Dr. Daniel Meyer greeted and mingled with those in attendance.

"Our passion is to bring people closer to God and live in community. This new branch location and kickoff event perfectly brought that to life," Meyer said. "We hope to see attendance increasing each week as word spreads about all that this new community will offer the surrounding area."

There is ample covered parking at the new location in addition to a roundabout drop off to accommodate those with mobility challenges.

Christ Church Esplanade is located at 3500 Lacey Drive, Downers Grove. For details, visit cc-ob.org/esplanade.

Founded in 1965, Christ Church is a multisite, nondenominational church with more than 6,000 members.

Services are held on the weekends at the Oak Brook and Downers Grove church sites, as well as online via livestream at cc-ob.org/online. Sermons can also be found on WPWR-TV, WFLD-TV and WGN-AM 720. For information visit cc-ob.org.
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Title Annotation:Neighbor
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 7, 2018
Words:547
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