Crosstowne was started in 1996 as an expression of the vision of Northwood Assembly Church currently located in Summerville, SC. The vision was to plant several community churches within Charleston and its surrounding cities with the mission to saturate these areas with the love of Jesus. Crosstowne is the West Ashley expression of that vision.
We met in a local movie theater every Sunday and competed with sticky floors, stale popcorn, and blockbuster movie weekends. We did the best we could with our faux plants, dividers, and portable sound system, to make the cold cinema seem warm and inviting. Our goal was to be different, daring and edgy. So edgy, in fact, we created a slogan to catch people's attention and ran an ad in one of our local newspapers.
The banner ad read, "Crosstowne. Church Without the Crap."
We were sure that church would be packed the next Sunday. We imagined our sticky cinema floors being walked on by droves of people longing to attend a church without dividing politics, pointless traditions, and who wouldn't mind that our meeting space smelled of day-old popcorn. In our minds, we were a beacon of light on a hill, shouting, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...and breathe in the sweet smell of Jesus and Junior Mints.
As you can well imagine, our provocative slogan had little effect in bringing people to our church. However, although our growth was small, our slogan ill-conceived, God was moving.
From the cinema, we transitioned into a small office store front located beside a Chinese restaurant. Instead of stale popcorn and Godzilla, we competed with the smell of General Tso Chicken wafting through our vents during our services. Our church was still small, but it was slowly growing. We realized it was time for a new, less edgy slogan. We wanted to reach people who were sick of playing church, tired of meaningless traditions, and who were seeking something different.
Our slogan became, "Crosstowne. A depart from tradition...a return to God."
After breaking down as many walls as we could in the storefront, actually and metaphorically, we knew it was time to move into a building of our very own.
When we moved to our current location, we were thrilled to have our our own space with room to grow. The building was originally a gymnasium for a private school with stark white walls, basketball hoops, scoreboards and hard gym floors. However, after a few upgrades, one could be hard-pressed to find remnants of a gymnasium anywhere.
Our church began to grow, albeit, an unexpected growth. People from various walks of life, church backgrounds, and cultures began to show up. We went from being a group of people with a similar church history to a congregation filled with various denominations, church affiliations (or lack thereof), and backgrounds.
Our real growth was never in the added numbers to our congregation, a new building, or even a slogan. It was in the redefining and refining of our vision, mission, and purpose. We discovered the true meaning of church. God began changing our hearts. We no longer sought to be edgy, or different. We desired to be welcoming and authentic. We no longer scoffed at tradition but began to recognize the beauty in it.
Our current slogan: "Crosstowne...a return to God."
Crosstowne is not the only church, but one of many amazing churches in our area where people can come and find belonging, seek refuge, take on challenges, and experience the love of Jesus. We aren't without "crap" or "tradition." We are people in progress. People on a faith journey, aligning themselves with Christ, and His Word to make a difference for God's glory.
We are thankful for the years of learning and growing, and look forward to many more. We are grateful for those who have stood by us through it all and have taken the journey to grow with us. We realize now that God brought us through years of sticky popcorn, sparse crowds, Chinese food, and basketball hoops so we could become a church that no longer seeks catchy slogans, but one that desires to live out the mission of Christ.
Our Mission: "To enable people to become Learners, Lovers, and Leaders in their relationship with Jesus Christ and in the world around them."
Crosstowne has several accountable, networked relationships with churches in the Charleston area. While we have the privilege of being distinctly different from one another, we reap the benefits of common unity, shared faith, and accountability.