The leaders at Community Christian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, call themselves “a large church that tries to feel small.”
The church was founded in 1957, and as the congregation grew and outgrew its facilities, the church had to relocate twice. Longtime member Dan Tarquinio quips, “It’s hard for people to find God if they can’t find a place to park and a place to sit.”
As the church moved and increased in size, the leadership team was committed to maintaining the sense of community that is found right in the church’s name.
“Many of us on staff spend a significant amount of time trying to know the names of those who are new,” says Senior Pastor Scott Eynon, who has been on staff at the church since 1994. “One of our slogans is, ‘We want everyone who believes here to feel like they belong here.’ Knowing their names is huge in connecting people and making them feel part of a family.”
Eynon says that staff connection is key to creating a church that feels like a family.
“All of our pastors walk around the lobby and auditorium and greet people before and after services,” Eynon says. “It’s very old-school, but people appreciate the effort that we make to be accessible.”
An emphasis on small groups and group outreach programs, like feeding the homeless, encourages members to see each other as family. The church has developed several partnerships around the city, which provide opportunities for small groups to get together and put their faith in action.
Community Christian has also implemented a unique strategy for making newcomers feel welcome—an unexpected gesture in a large metropolitan area.
“We give every first-time guest family a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and these cookies are left at their front door the day after they attend our church.” Rather than being accompanied with a hard sell for the church, the bag of cookies simply includes a small note that says, “We are glad you came to Community Christian Church.”
The church has empowered a group of volunteers to serve as cookie makers and deliverers. They are strategically located all around the community, always ready to run the treats out on Monday.
“After having visited the church I knew that this was my church family. Getting cookies just put the icing on the cake and made me feel welcome,” says Delia Hayward. “To have someone bake and deliver cookies is so thoughtful and lets visitors know that the church people are caring and loving.”
It’s these extra touches that have drawn all kinds of people to Community Christian, and it shows in the diversity of its members. The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metropolitan area is considered one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country, and Community Christian reflects that. Eynon says there are 85 different countries of origin represented in the congregation.
“It’s amazing that we have such diversity, but we don’t look at any color,” says Cuban Luky Hadler, whose husband, Barry, and kids were baptized at Community Christian. “When we walk in, we feel the presence of God and love.”
Eynon credits some of the church’s recent growth to a teaching series called “The X Files: eXploring The Supernatural.” The series covered topics like angels, demons, karma and the paranormal. The church sent out 30,000 invitations to the community before the series began, and had apologist and author Lee Strobel give the sermon one Sunday.
“We had our largest non-Easter attendance ever,” Eynon says.
COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Senior Pastor: Scott Eynon
Affiliation: Christian – Independent Christian Churches
A 2016 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
Growth in 2015: +529 (24%)