CLEVES, Ohio – Even though its newest site is based out of a former school building, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d be willing to call the people at Crossroads Church “old school.”
Doors opened at the former Three Rivers Middle School at 9 a.m., welcoming a near-capacity crowd of about 700 guests to the church’s fourth location. Staff only anticipated about 300 worshippers for the 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. services at the Bridgetown Road location.
Church leaders describe Crossroads as an interdenominational community for people who may have given up on traditional religious settings but not on God.
Discussion range from more traditional Jesus-centric topics to the dynamic relationship between Christianity and other world religions.
"We not only love the fact we are inviting people to understand God in language that makes sense to them, but we're also about the people who aren't here so most of us love creating a church of our friends, our family and our co-workers," said Chuck Moore, Crossroads' director of spiritual growth.
The differences between Crossroads and other churches, even some other interdenominational faiths, don't stop there.
Oddities in most traditional places of worship, Wi-Fi, live music, high-tech video elements, refreshments and a space just for kids are commonplace at the Cincinnati-based church.
Specific to the Cleves site, the church has renovated parts of the building to include two auditoriums, state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, 13 "Kids’ Club" rooms and an open atrium.
The one-time classrooms at the former school are still being utilized as education centers for children and teenagers throughout the week.
Crossroad leaders also like to joke about the inclusion of "comfortable seating," a tongue-in-cheek knock against the hard-backed wooden pews many religious people grew up knowing (and despising).
Some might even consider attending a Crossroad Church service a form of entertaining spiritual enrichment.
But in addition to the high-tech bells and whistles and occasionally over-the-top neo-sermons, the church embraces a come-as-you-are mindset that resonates with many modern-day churchgoers.
That ability to relate to the "searchers" and millennials alike has led to Crossroad's rapid growth since opening in 1995.
“Since being a part of Crossroads’ community, I’ve received incredible blessings in my marriage and my family,” said Phil Rueve of Cleves, one of the estimated 17,000 members of the church.
In fact, the church is so well received that West Side members of the congregation pushed for the new space to open early so they wouldn’t have to continue to commute to Florence, Oakley or Mason to take part in Crossroads' unique approach to religious observation.
“Crossroads coming to the West Side means our friends and neighbors are more likely to take us up on an invitation to come to a place that’s changed our lives,” said Crossroads West Side Pastor and Cleves resident Greg McElfresh.
“We’re excited to have a Crossroads location that’s more convenient for all of us to hear about Jesus in a language we can understand.”
One of the downsides of opening early means the construction and remodeling projects at the venue aren’t finished yet. Moore said he expects them to be completed within the next months but more needs to be done.
But the Crossroads members weren’t to be stopped. Parishioners added some of the church’s new technology themselves and were crucial to readying the venue for its reopening in the limited turnaround time.
“I wholeheartedly believe that God has very specific plans for the West Side,” Rueve said.
For general information about Crossroads, go to crossroads.net