“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” John 4:24
St. Louis is a small church that is now taking significant strides toward growing in number and closeness to God and to one another. With the help of Church Establishment Committee (CEC) brethren, a pilot “bolstering” program was started last year to look at church health and ways to grow through outreach. The CEC, a HarvestCall committee, selected the church largely due to the existing spirit of love and unity already being practiced among the brethren and friends. The congregation is continuing to build upon this foundation as they look to establish a local church vision and explore ways to reach out into the community. Brethren from the churches in Taylor, Missouri and Champaign, Illinois are also wrapping their arms lovingly around the congregation to provide support in various capacities. In this article, we look at the heart of the St. Louis church today, how it began and things the church has been doing to foster outreach.
Meet the St. Louis Congregation
The St. Louis church body is now comprised of mostly young couples with small children. In total, six families, three singles, plus 15 children worship at the church on a typical Sunday. The strong presence of youth provides great hope for the future. Bro. Loren Schrenk and Bro. Nathan Rassi share the pulpit ministry. The church family also enjoys visits from other ministers through monthly scheduled minister rotations. On that weekend, a potluck dinner and hymn sing are planned for the church to attend. Bro. Kent Heimer, from Taylor, MO, has oversight for the church.
In the Beginning
On November 22, 1981, the “Gateway to the West,” became the site of an Apostolic Christian Church at the Harley Hotel in suburban St. Louis. In January of the next year, members began meeting at the Ben Franklin Motel in St. Louis and a schedule of visiting ministers was established.
In September 1986, Bro. Loren Schrenk and his family moved to the area. With the arrival of more people in 1987, the frequency of services was increased to three times per month. In 1988, members expressed a desire for their own church building, and efforts were made to obtain land at the present site. The first service in the new church building was held on March 10, 1992, and the church has had ups and downs since that time.
Opportunities for Service
The church family is actively spreading the gospel in their areas of employment and with neighbors and friends, including supporting a prison ministry, aftercare program and the children of incarcerated men and women.
They are also serving the Lord through serving others in many capacities. Some of these include working through HarvestCall to support those in need locally, nationally and internationally, and participating in a Christian-based tutoring program for immigrant children in the city. The church members, however, would like to be doing more in the area of outreach but feel limited due to the demands of everyday family living. With the help of the Church Establishment brethren, they are looking at options including starting Vacation Bible School to teach their own youth and interested friends.
To nurture the believers, members and friends meet for Sunday and Wednesday evening services, Bible studies and monthly potlucks and hymn singings.
Challenges of small church living
Proximity among the church families poses a challenge with fellowship. An hour’s drive separates some families, with some living in Missouri and some in Illinois. Additionally, the church has few intergenerational families. As a result, people “go home” for holidays and other family events, leaving very few people in St. Louis for services.
How you can help
If you have a heart to help fulfill the desire of a small church to grow in number and assist with outreach efforts, please prayerfully consider a visit or move to the St. Louis area. The city has a good economy with many job opportunities, especially in the areas of healthcare, life science research and education. Numerous and interesting sightseeing options abound.
As God would move in hearts, all who answer the call would be welcome. A special plea, however, goes out to middle-aged couples with teenage children to fill a missing demographic within the church.
For those interested in relocating to the area, the church is blessed with a newly renovated 3-bedroom house on the property that is available to rent immediately.
Contact Ministering Bro. Loren Schrenk if you are interested in becoming part of the close-knit St. Louis church family and sharing their vision for outreach and church growth.
To visit, check the 2016 Minister book for information about services.