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Our Story

The Story of Christ Church East

Christ Church was planted in 1984 with a vision to reach the city of Jacksonville with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a new vision, but one that dates back to the first century when Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we see this vision unfold in the book of Acts as the gospel spread through churches that were planted in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. So, the mission continues today. Like the first century church plants, Christ Church began in 1984 with a small team of people committed to loving God and loving others. The Lord grew the church and landed it in the heart of Mandarin where it has served as a witness for Christ for the past 30 years.

 

Over 30 years the city has grown significantly, marked by its diverse communities and the largest landmass of any city in the United States. Due to these unique characteristics and the reality of a changing culture, we realized one congregation in Mandarin couldn’t reach these various communities with the gospel. So, in 2009, faced with the evidence that new churches reach new people for Christ at a much faster rate than existing churches, and after much prayer and planning, we embraced a vision to plant new congregations to serve as gospel-centered outposts of the kingdom of God throughout our city. In the fall of 2010, we launched our first congregation in this model, Christ Church East, with a small group of people from the Mandarin congregation. On September 5, 2010, East held its first public worship service at the Alhambra Dinner Theater on Beach Boulevard. Sitting at tables in a dimly lit theater, dropping our kids off in a lounge converted to a nursery, and sending our children to the employee break room for children’s worship reminded us that our existence wasn’t defined by a building, but by people who loved Jesus, loved each other, and longed to see the hope of Christ spread. By God’s grace, we outgrew the Alhambra and moved to our current location, the University Center, in January 2012.

 

With the provision of a great facility for weekly worship, continued growth, and the multiplication of new community groups, we began to seek the Lord’s direction for our next congregation. With several community groups from the Mandarin and East congregations meeting in the San Marco/Riverside area, it appeared the Lord was preparing the way for a third congregation closer to the downtown area of Jacksonville. So, in the spring of 2014, we launched Christ Church InTown, with a team of people from our East and Mandarin congregations. On April 20, 2014, InTown held its first public worship service at the Wyndham Hotel on the south bank of the St. John’s River.

Following the success of two church plants, we experienced multiple transitions in 2014. The elders, along with the pastors, struggled to apply the “one church, many congregations” model to three congregations with different needs. After a process of reflection, we realized that it was a great model for planting congregations, but became an increasingly difficult model by which to govern them as they matured. Given these challenges, the elders unanimously decided to shift our model from “one church many congregations” to “one family of multiple churches”. Christ Church East particularized in January 2016 and Christ Church InTown particularized in 2018.

The Lord has moved mightily in the past years, expanding his influence from one congregation in Mandarin to 3 congregations reaching 3 different communities in Jacksonville. Christ Church has more than doubled in size and the Lord has reached broken, skeptical, and disenfranchised people with the fresh hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

About

After the successful birth of Christ Church InTown, Christ Church East is setting its sights on the multiplication of another congregation in the Jacksonville beaches area. The timing of the Christ Church Beaches launch depends on a number of factors, including leadership development and community group multiplication, but we are targeting Fall 2019 and trusting the Lord to provide all that is needed to expand his influence at the beach. May Jesus Christ continue to build his church!