A video of a man preaching plays on a large screen projected in a dark room. Hundreds listen and focus on Chuck Mingo, the man giving the sermon, which is about a religious spiritual experience. A live band, accompanied with colored lights, had entertained the crowd before the sermon.
The sermon, being broadcast to thousands of people in Kentucky, Ohio and elsewhere, was recorded the night before and played simultaneously on Sunday morning.
This is the bread and butter of Crossroads Church, a Christ-centered, non-denominational church. The Cincinnati megachurch, which has more than 10 satellite churches in Ohio and Kentucky, began spreading its message to Central Kentucky earlier this year.
The church started in 1996 by 11 Cincinnatians who wanted an environment to meet with friends to explore questions about God without having to pretend that “they had it all together,” according to the church’s website. Since then, the church has grown to tens of thousands of people, who watch the sermons online from their homes or at one of the campuses.
Every few weeks, the church has a different sermon series that focuses on teaching about God. Past themes include “Resilient,” aimed at teaching people to overcome hardships, or “I Am___ Journey,” aimed at personal and God-given identity. It is not uncommon for the pastors to wear casual clothing, such as blue jeans and button-down shirts, and read from the Bible while having a candid conversation with the audience.
For Easter this year, the message is “Ignite: An Easter Experience.” The church’s website describes it: “Today is a big deal. We remember that the real Jesus came out of the real tomb, defeated death and made God’s cosmic rescue plan a reality. So, we break out the good stuff. We shout-sing with smiles on our faces. We realize that if Jesus is alive, that means we can be fully alive. Easter ignites new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures that we never dreamed possible. Today, we wake up in a whole new way.”
At the beginning of this year, churches that belonged to the Crossroads Christian Church, which had campuses in Lexington’s Andover neighborhood and in Georgetown and Richmond, merged with Crossroads Church, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Each campus has similar programming, with a kids’ club, and a student ministry for middle school students and one for high school students.
Brad Stone, pastor of the Georgetown campus, which has 350 to 400 members, said the same message being played at several campuses helps the church be consistent.
“We get the same message, same vision, same application in all campuses,” he said.
In addition to parishioners watching the same recorded message, there are other differences from a more traditional church. Mark Stecher, pastor at the Andover Campus, said lights are off in the worship area, allowing people to sing without feeling intimidated.
The sermon isn’t always recorded. Every six to eight weeks, the local pastor at each campus will speak “live” to the congregation, Stone said.
Jacqueline Fields, a volunteer at the church, said the church allows for people to come together as a family, especially through volunteer work.
One parishioner at the Georgetown campus, Yvonne Cooper, said she became a member after she moved to Cincinnati about eight years ago. She was recommended to the church by Jon Weece, the head pastor, or “lead follower,” at Southland Christian Church. Cooper, a former Lexington resident, said that the first day she attended, she was moved by a message from Crossroads Church senior pastor Brian Tome.
“It was very real,” she said. “I felt like I was at a place where I would be accepted, no matter what I’d been through.”
Cooper has been involved in a homeless ministry, doing mission work in South Africa, and she learned more about social injustices that affect racial minorities.
“The more we learned, the more we reflected on how worse it was here because of the smaller (minority population percentage),” she said.
After the merger was announced, Cooper decided to move back to Kentucky, this time to Georgetown.
“I didn’t want to come back here,” she said. “But ... I couldn’t stay in Cincinnati and talk about all these changes that needed to happen unless I was willing to do something to help make them happen.”
The church is continuing to grow. There are plans to open a new church on the east side of Cincinnati this year and to create a presence in Dayton.
Cooper said she thinks Crossroads Church is different from “traditional church” because there is less judgment from its parishioners.
“If their lives are not spic and span (in other congregations), I believe they feel judged,” she said. “That is not something a person is ever going to feel within the walls of any of our campuses.”
Crossroads Kentucky location and worship times
Andover: 4128 Todds Rd., Lexington. Easter Sunday services are at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. On other Sundays, services are 9:15 and 11 a.m.
Florence: 828 Heights Blvd., Florence. On Easter weekend, services are at 4 and 6 p.m., Saturday and 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. On other weekends, services are 5:30 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Georgetown: 1696 Oxford Dr., Georgetown. On Easter Sunday, services are at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. On other Sundays, services are 9:15 and 11 a.m.
Richmond: 124 South Keeneland Dr., Richmond. On Easter Sunday, services are at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. On other Sundays, services are 9:15 and 11 a.m.