music reverberates off the ceiling. A
tune by the ‘80s super-pop group The Go-Go's
gets the day started and the crowd is
drawn to a man sitting on a stool.
take long to realize The Crossing
Community Church is different from most
senior pastor Mike Harper, that's quite
October, a two-year renovation project
on the 20-year-old building at 2542 W.
Warner Road, Chandler, culminated with
The Crossing's first public Sunday
service. It also allowed Harper's
longtime vision—opening a church that
catered to those who tend to stay away
from churches—to become a reality.
the steps of the main stage, Harper
describes his inspiration, a church in
Chicago that had 25,000 members.
catered to the non-churchgoer. Seeing
that, it grew (in my head), it really
resonated with me," said Harper, whose
sermons are offered from on top of a
stool instead of behind an altar.
is not on the churchgoer or someone who
has gone to church since they were a
child. It's on the de-churched."
band plays contemporary music. Services
incorporate what purists may consider
secular themes. For example, over the
holidays Harper used clips from the
movie The Polar Express and lessons
inspired by Dr. Suess' How the Grinch
programs that resonate with people, that
are practical and relevant to their
life. (They show that) church can make
sense, and people get it," Harper said.
very loose and informal structure."
and his fellow leaders at The Crossing
use a highly strategic approach in
getting word out to their neighbors.
definitive marketing plan boasts a
snazzy web site, color ads in print
publications and a direct mail campaign.
Downloadable video clips are available
for those who wish to have the messages
on their iPods.
building, owned by the Assemblies of
God, has been around since the early
1980s. During that time Harper said
there have been three or four different
churches before it entered a period of
dormancy in 2003.
countless volunteer hours and $280,000
achieved through refinancing, Harper and
two friends revamped the inside and
outside of what had been a lifeless
shell, getting rid of the old
"Pepto-Bismol pink" and bringing in new
furnishings and updated earthy and deco
Everything, from the women's restroom
that resembles one in a Scottsdale
resort, to the $200,000 technology
system that brings to life the screens,
lights and sound system, is designed to
make people comfortable and give them
reasons to be there.
who lives in Chandler with his family,
said that the church's name symbolizes
"crossing the line into faith."
this could also apply to his unorthodox
pastoral style, which crosses
chooses to eliminate any distance
between himself and his members by
talking with them instead of lecturing
to them, and wearing jeans and a polo
shirt, an ensemble similar to what they
might be wearing. He is known simply as
"Mike," sans any formal titles.
generation pastor originally from Texas,
Harper admitted it took his own father a
while to grasp the concept and
characteristics. When he asked Harper
how visitors would know he was the
pastor since he lacked the attire and
title indicative of traditional
churches, Harper responded by asking him
how could people distinguish him from
the many members who donned suits and
‘They just know.'
And I said, ‘Well, that's the same
thing. People just know. They feel it."