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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019
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'New kind of church' meeting in Lithia parks

LITHIA - Kody Kirchhoff and his longtime friend, Gary Randolph, have a vision for how church should be. Both had the same vision from God and shared it with each other, they say. They have put it into action, forming a new church they believe could draw people who might not otherwise come to hear the word of God. Kirchhoff cites statistics that some 80 percent of young people in this nation don't believe in God. Church as we know it, he says, is obviously not working for them. A longtime youth minister, Kirchhoff says it is time to get back to the kind of church Jesus had – the kind with a following that meets in various locations, whose members make real relationships with each other and who are ready to walk the walk in their everyday lives.
Just a couple of months back, Kirchhoff left his job as a children's minister at Sunset Chapel, another Lithia church, to follow this dream. He's hoping the public will help him to name the new church. For now, though, he is focusing on its goals. "Everything in this world is a production any more," he said. "Even at school, they make it a production. I've seen in student ministry what works – relationships." What many churches have become, he said, is more about the buildings than the people and their lives. "The idea is not to connect to buildings, but to connect to God," Kirchhoff said. For now, he has a regular following of about 60 people who meet in various parks throughout the FishHawk Ranch and Lithia area on Sundays to celebrate their walk with God. In between, they hold other smaller gatherings, including meeting for community projects. "I've taken church and completely turned it upside down," he said. "We need to have ownership in God's plan. My plan is to give power and ownership to the people that want it." He said he is using the model Jesus Christ used when he walked the land to speak with followers. "If we don't have walls, we won't need to make it about us." Randolph is walking beside him in this quest. "I've been in ministry for years and had a vision to do something different, something new in the area," Randolph said. "When I shared that vision with Kody, we found out God had given us the same vision. That gave me confirmation. "I don't know if this is going to be it or not," Randolph said. "What I do know is that there are many churches in the area and around the country and there are things that keep people out of churches. "Our approach is a little different," Randolph said. "For some, no building may make it easier." To learn more about the new church and the contest to name it, which includes a prize package, go to www.donthaveaname.com or email [email protected].

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