“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” — 2 Corinthians 5:14
Compelled Church, which has grown from five people at its founding in 1996 to more than 700 today, is adding a second campus starting Sunday in the Toledo area.
Originally known as Bedford Christian Community Church, the congregation voted in 2010 to change the name to Compelled Church — inspired by St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians — in anticipation of adding campuses outside Bedford Township.
“This will be the first of many sites in our overall church vision,” said the Rev. Nate Elarton, lead pastor. “You can’t have a multisite church like this with Bedford in the name. We had to change it.”
The church’s distinctive name draws from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, Mr. Elarton said, and reflects the Scripture’s “missional” theme.
“We heard all kinds of suggestions — some were crazy — but Compelled Church just stuck in my heart,” he said.
A few people left the church because they didn’t like the new name and the plan to add multiple sites, the pastor added, but the staff and leadership teams were “in unity” over the changes.
The new campus meets in the Family Activities Club, 6202 Trust Dr., Holland, across from the entrance to Texas Roadhouse. Worship service starts at 10 a.m. Sundays.
Mr. Elarton called the Family Activities Club a “gem” of a building that is perfectly suited to host church events. The building has a large banquet room for use as a sanctuary, plus a number of smaller rooms for Sunday school classes, a nursery, and children’s and youth groups.
Compelled Church is renting the facility, with staff and volunteers setting up and taking down the equipment every Sunday. The long-term goal is to buy a building in the area, Mr. Elarton said.
Tim Rabara, a professional photographer who works part time for Compelled, will serve as campus pastor and Curtis Klotz will be the music director.
Although Mr. Rabara and the musicians will be at the Toledo-area site, the sermons will be prerecorded by Mr. Elarton and delivered to the campus on video.
The lead pastor said Compelled’s leaders reviewed numerous options before choosing the video sermon format.
For one thing, he and Mr. Rabara said, it has been proven to work. Scores of churches across the country with multiple locations are using video or live streaming to present sermons from the main campus to satellite sites. Among churches using that format is CedarCreek, the largest church in northwest Ohio. Founded in 1995, the average weekly attendance at its four campuses is more than 8,600.
Mr. Elarton said while researching ideas for the new campus, he visited several churches that use videos for their sermons and found them to be effective.
“After a few minutes I was absolutely oblivious to the fact that I was watching a video,” he said, adding that he was laughing and clapping along as if the preacher were in the same room.
With Mr. Elarton preaching, it means that Mr. Rabara, who is studying for his ministry credentials, won’t need to spend the typical 15 to 20 hours a week it takes to prepare a sermon.
“He is freed up to spend that time on ministry, pastoral care, and serving people,” Mr. Elarton said.
In an interview at the Bedford church, the two pastors said they believe that having multiple sites is more effective than adding onto the existing facility in order to reach more people with the Gospel. They don’t want to get so big that people don’t know other members’ names, they said. Plus, adding a separate campus makes it more convenient for people who live in that area to attend.
“We have a passion for the city,” Mr. Elarton said. “We did demographic studies of Toledo, and there is plenty of room for more churches.”
Services at Compelled Church, which is part of the Assemblies of God denomination, typically consist of 25 to 35 minutes of contemporary worship music, 10 minutes of greetings and announcements, and 35 to 45 minutes of preaching.
Mr. Elarton, who was born and raised in Morenci, Mich., served as a youth pastor in a Detroit suburb for 10 years before starting the church in Bedford with his wife, Wendy, in 1996. He has a bachelor’s degree from North Central University and a master’s degree from Heritage Theological Seminary.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154