A 2013 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
A popular saying among pastors is, “If your church disappeared tomorrow, would your community notice or care?” For Alex Himaya, senior pastor of the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based theChurch.at, the answer is “a resounding ‘yes,'” he says.
Take its partnership with the local health and human services agency: church members have officially adopted dozens of young wards of the state, and the congregation provides many more kids with foster care and frequently ministers to them.
For the region’s downtrodden adults, church members dole out food, clothing—and the gospel message—to hundreds every Tuesday. Then on Friday, church members head to a downtown homeless shelter to put on a worship service.
Annual “Evangelism 101” efforts include its back-to-school celebration, complete with free backpacks and haircuts for low-income families. Similarly, at Christmastime, thousands of gifts are handed out to needy kids. The bonus blessing? Last year alone there were 400 decisions for Christ and roughly 285 baptisms, church officials say.
Not to be outdone, its “Clean Slate” ministry is akin to a mix of the television shows Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Design on a Dime, transforming homes and schools across Tulsa in need of renovation.
“We don’t sit and wait for the people to come to us,” says Scott Kingsbury, theChurch.at’s creative director. “We want the community to know we are here to serve them.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the 10-year-old church with two campuses has had a steady increase in growth over the decade, welcoming families of all ages, from all walks of life. Its tagline is “the perfect place for imperfect people,” and nearly every sermon weaves in the Good News.
“Alex is a true evangelist,” says Executive Pastor Hixon Frank. “He doesn’t give a lot of messages assuming people are believers.”
The atmosphere is upbeat—the “hello team” is all handshakes and hugs. The worship music varies.
“It’s a very inviting, warm, laid-back vibe,” Kingsbury says.