In a Christian culture in which many missionaries serve on the other side of the world, some are serving on simply the other side of the city. Jeff Jewett will tell you that what looks like a modern, contemporary structure on Columbus’ west side actually stands as an outpost for those with a fervent zeal for spreading God’s love.
Take a look at Terrace Lake Community Church at 4260 W. County Road 200S, where Jewett serves as executive director.
“We believe that the training that is happening here is every bit a mission field as one in Kenya,” he said, adding that the ministry also supports traditional missions. “We feel that investing in our children is just as important as anything else.”
As Jewett spoke, he sat in a sunlit section off Terrace Lake’s new $2 million, 12,434-square-foot education and nursery wing boasting better security for child care, much needed additional room for a faith community welcoming about 20 newborns per year and enough bright colors and whimsical aesthetics to satisfy the most bored preschooler or primary-grader.
Story continues below gallery
Plus, a new, fenced-in outdoor playground, right in front of an observation window, sits outside the structure near a hallway of classrooms with whiteboards, sinks for easy clean-up, areas for separate groups and other accessories.
Moreover, a classy, glassy front room for a variety of gatherings offers more warmth than just the sun streaming in.
Mom Hannah Burke loves the space at the church, 4260 W. County Road 200S, just down the street from the Southside Elementary School auditorium where members first met in a public space.
“We’re all about training disciples for Christ, and the No. 1 disciple in my life is my son (2-year-old Sim),” Burke said. “Before this (addition), space was tiny. But now the kids have room to explore, to grow and to learn.
“And he and the other children are spending time there learning about Christ. To me, that’s the most important thing he can ever learn in his whole, entire life.”
The addition nearly doubles the church’s total square-footage.
On a recent evening, the youth met in one space. And three of the church’s community groups — slightly larger than most small-group Bible studies — met simultaneously elsewhere in the building. Again, the idea is that the facility serves as a training ground for making disciples of Christ, no matter the age.
“We’re just following God’s activity here and staying in step with him,” Jewett said. “And sometimes we’ve seen God do some crazy things really fast.”
He mentioned that the church’s ministry resource council works to ensure that “we’re not moving too fast,” as Jewett put it.
Leah Retrum, helping with communications at Terrace Lake, is among the young adults, along with Burke, who have helped the church grow to more than 500 attendees combined at two Sunday services. She was drawn by what she considers solid biblical teaching — and solid examples of that teaching lived by church leaders and other members.
“This is all part of glory to God,” Retrum said as she walked a visitor through the addition. “It’s exciting to see all this happen — and to see kids’ lives changed.”
Members want that to happen in a space as vibrant and innovative as the one they worship. That helps explains screaming, primary colors on the walls, funky patterns on rugs — even the hallways lights are different and arranged in a zig-zag pattern — and carpet that looks like hip, overlaid flooring in one section.
“God is very creative,” Jewett said. “We’re just trying to reflect what he has given to us. And we have so many very creative people in this church. And they’re just expressing those gifts through the things you see here — especially with what you see in these classrooms.”
In the aftermath of a successful building fund drive, Terrace Lake is poised for still more growth. It just kicked off another, $3.5 million capital campaign called Thirst. It will include a larger worship space auditorium, plans for a new church plant in a nearby community, added parking and — mission-minded believers can take note — an irrigation system for the needy in Kenya.
The Rev. Dan Houze, the church’s founder and senior pastor, planted one other church in Dallas and understands gradual growth.
“God’s kingdom starts small,” he wrote in a booklet outlining Thirst as he referenced the church’s beginning with four families in a local living room. “But (it) grows large.”
Or at least larger. Take a look at the mission field at the corner of County Road 200 South and Terrace Lake Road.
Theme: “Living intentionally in Christ to make disciples who make disciples.”
Where: 4260 W. County Road 200S (at the intersection with Terrace Lake Road).
Size: Attracting more than 500 worshippers weekly over two contemporary services — at 9:15 and 11 a.m. A record 573 people attended one Sunday in September.
Begun: October 2000 with four families meeting in a living room.
Other offerings: Youth group, a booming children’s ministry, community groups (slightly larger than typical Bible study small groups), outreach efforts, ad other programs and initiatives.
Information: 812-342-2050 or terracelakecc.org.