29 November, 2022

Carl Junction Church Adds Campus at Joplin’s Neighborhood Life House

by | 30 August, 2022

By Chris Moon 

The Christian Church of Carl Junction has launched a new campus near the heart of Joplin, Mo.  

The campus—called the Christian Church of North Heights—is operating out of the original Joplin home of Ozark Christian College.  

ADAM JONES

Adam Jones, senior minister of the Christian Church of Carl Junction, said the North Heights neighborhood has needed a church for years.  

“There are no churches in that neighborhood,” he said.  

The new campus began operating in June and held its grand opening on Aug. 14.  

Sixteen people from the Carl Junction church have helped launch the new campus. Attendance has averaged about 30 each Sunday. 

But the story of the new campus is more than just an outreach effort by the Christian Church of Carl Junction.  

The former college facility where the North Heights campus meets is now owned by Neighborhood Life House. The nonprofit organization, which has Restoration Movement roots, offers Christ-centered, after-school programming for students in the North Heights neighborhood.  

For several years, Neighborhood Life House leadership had been hoping a church could meet on its property, said Addie Jarrett, the nonprofit’s director. 

“We knew if it was God’s plan, he would make it all happen,” she said.  

A HOUSE FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD 
Neighborhood Life House (NLH) opened in 2009 by offering after-school programming to elementary school students at the site, which Ozark Bible College used from 1944 until 1963, when it moved to its current location. (OBC changed its name to Ozark Christian College in 1985).  

After the college moved in the 1960s, North Joplin Christian Church started at that site. After 45 years of ministry, NJCC closed in 2008, but donated the facility to College Heights Christian Church to be used for a new ministry. Neighborhood Life House was created to meet that need. 

Today, the nonprofit serves middle and high school students in addition to elementary school kids, Jarrett said. During the past school year, it served 196 students.  

Its programming for the current school year is slated to begin after Labor Day. 

“This neighborhood has been known as one that has a lot of significant needs,” Jarrett said. “We are just serving and being the hands and feet of Jesus.” 

Among other things, Neighborhood Life House offers after-school Bible studies and small groups, as well as a “Daughters of the King” dance class and an “Imago Dei” art class.  

Students participate in daily devotions. A meal is offered once a week—a particularly important benefit for a neighborhood where 60 percent of residents are considered food insecure, Jarrett said.  

All Neighborhood Life House activities are free. The programs are run by volunteers.  

Jarrett said the idea for a church to operate on the campus had been a prayer of NLH’s leadership team for several years.  

Multiple families connected to Neighborhood Life House weren’t part of any church, but they desired to have one close to home, she said. And NLH’s leaders saw a church as something that could meet the needs of entire families—and one more way the nonprofit could share the gospel. 

Jarrett said the question became, “God has put this on our heart and on the heart of our neighbors. How can we make this happen?” 

Enter the Christian Church at Carl Junction.  

A CHURCH FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD 
The Carl Junction church had been looking to branch out by launching another campus. It currently has an average Sunday attendance of about 300. 

Jones, the senior minister, said the North Heights neighborhood is full of larger, older homes. Many of them have been divided up into apartment units. 

The neighborhood suffers from poverty and high drug use, Jones said.  

Having a church in the neighborhood, he said, is something many families there need because they only have one car that often already is in use on Sunday—or they don’t have a car at all. 

“If they can’t walk there, they can’t go,” he said. 

ERIC WASSON

Eric Wasson, student minister at the Christian Church of Carl Junction, is leading the North Heights campus. 

Wasson, who lives in the North Heights neighborhood, said several families have joined the new campus from the neighborhood. But he said the campus’s start has been a slow one.  

People in the neighborhood, he said, can be a little “skittish” about new things. They likely are waiting to see whether the new church will stick before giving it a try. 

The church meets in the NLH chapel and offers live worship music each Sunday. The sermon is delivered via video from Carl Junction, which is a 10- to 12-minute drive away. 

Jones said the church is investing in the after-school programming of Neighborhood Life House. That work will take the place of much of the children’s and youth programming that a normal church campus would offer.  

The church, he said, doesn’t want to “reinvent what’s been working well.” 

Jarrett, at Neighborhood Life House, said she expects attendance to pick up at the church once the nonprofit’s school-year programming begins in September.  

She said the house is a comfortable place for many of the families who access its programs, and she expects the church’s Sunday services to benefit from that. 

“It’s already like home to them,” she said. 

Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colo. 

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

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