Monday, June 30, 2008
Farewell to Via Christus

Yesterday was the last Sunday gathering for our now-defunct church plant, Via Christus Community Church, here in Yorkville, Illinois. We've spent the past three years trying to build a self-sustaining faith community here on the furthest edges of Chicagoland, and while we did succeed in creating a wonderful house church, we simply never grew past that size to a point where Julie and I could draw a livable salary and continue the work here. Our decision to pull the plug now rather than stick it out a while longer was mainly due to the fact that a large percentage of our regular attenders have also moved out of the area this summer, and others are likely moving soon. Rather than start over from square one, we realized that it was time to move on to other things.

However, I don't at all feel like this has ultimately been a failure. I am proud of the community we created and the life transformations that have occurred as a result - not to mention the impact we've had on the wider Yorkville community. We have lived up to our mission of "transforming people to transform the world". And I'm especially pleased at the unique kind of church that we've created together. We set out to be a different kind of church, and we were. Something I wrote for the Visitors section of our website captures well what was unique about Via Christus:

When we say Via Christus is probably like no other church you’ve visited before, we’re not kidding. Imagine a church where it doesn’t matter how you dress, what you look like, how you talk, whether you know the right beliefs or even how to “behave” in church. Imagine a church where you get to be part of creating the “sermon” – asking questions and sharing stories. Imagine a church where “worship” involves way more than just singing – it involves art, and imagination, and contemplation, and movement, and creativity, and much more. Imagine a church where you don’t just sit and absorb, you are invited into the experience.

And most importantly, imagine a church that cares more about how it is going out into the world to serve others on a daily basis, than about how to draw people into a once-a-week religious service.

We are very experiential and participatory as a church. However, as a new visitor, we will never put you on the spot or make you feel uncomfortable. You are welcome to simply come and observe – there’s never any pressure to participate beyond what you’re comfortable with. We want you to get to know us at your own pace.

For those who wonder if we are “traditional” or “contemporary” – the answer is yes… and so much more as well. We try to appreciate and incorporate good elements from the whole buffet of spiritual practices that have been handed down through the centuries of the Christian faith. Whether it’s ancient or postmodern, contemplative or charismatic, hymns or praise songs – we will embrace whatever is helpful for drawing us closer to God and each other.

So what should you expect? Expect a church that is open to trying new things (and old things). Expect a church where you have the opportunity to not just sit and listen but to actively engage. Expect a church that is friendly, fun (even silly at times), and laid-back, and yet challenging at the same time. Our goal is to transform lives and the whole world with God’s love, so expect to be changed (for the better we hope) by your time with us.

This is what Via Christus was. It's going to be hard for us to find another community that will replace this.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 3:12 PM | Permalink |


At 7/01/2008 06:42:00 PM, Anonymous Rose

Wow Mike, a chapter closing and a new one opening. You did a good job! Much peace and grace to you and Julie. We hope to meet somewhere again. Let us know if you are ever in Seattle.


At 7/02/2008 06:43:00 AM, Blogger David

Mike, I live in Texas, and so only know of your efforts through this blog. That being said, I sincerely try and use much of your attitude and that of Via Christus in planning for a service I work through here.

Your church--the people who were involved with Via Christus--is a vibrant, spirit-filled group of believers most of us can only wish we were a part of. Thanks to you and to Julie for facilitating such a discussion of Truth; I know that something of Via Christus will follow you wherever you land.

Blessings to you!


At 7/29/2008 07:33:00 PM, Anonymous Rachel

Wow. I've been wondering where I could find a Christian community like this. Yesterday, I "stumbled" upon a book called "We the Purple", and by "chance" flipped to the page with Mr. Clawson's testimony. I saw "Yorkville", and I got excited, as I am not far.

Now, from a Google search, I find that it closed mere weeks ago. :(


At 7/29/2008 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I'm very sorry to hear that Rachel. Where are you located exactly? I may be able to point you to another church nearby with a similar philosophy to Via Christus. I'd also encourage you to check out the up/rooted Emergent cohort at They are communities of friends that meet monthly all over the Chicagoland area to talk about life, theology, ministry, and social justice.


At 8/07/2008 11:37:00 PM, Anonymous Roopster


Good luck on your new endeavors. I remember when we shut the doors down on our pioneering effort (back in 2000) for similar reasons. We had a great group of folks and value the time we all spent together. Overall, we look back on this with fond memories and I believe most of the folks do also.



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