Christ Fellowship City Place: the church over a coffeehouse

This is David and me at City Place in West Palm Beach, FLCity Place is a beautiful meeting of cultures.

Visiting Christ Fellowship’s various campuses always causes me to come away shaking my head, amazed at the radically different personalities that have developed from one heart and one ministry. The City Place campus, also called the Ascent, seems like the bohemian, artsy little sister of the Christ Fellowshp group.

City Place itself is a mid-sized commercial redevelopment program, an outdoor lifestyle center that is about as hip as you can get in West Palm Beach without descending into gritty. The movie theater in City Place draws a huge crowd, diverse on a Friday night. Because of City Place’s location, it also can draw homeless or the folk from across the bridge in Palm Beach itself. Smack in the middle of this culture clash sits the Harriet Himmel Theater. Christ Fellowship houses its church in the theater every Sunday, from an early morning 9:00 service to the evening Ascent service for college and young adults. It is a hopping spot.

Today, at all of our campuses, we began sign-ups for our LifeGroups. At City Place John Poitevent (Campus Pastor) spoke on a fairly obscure passage in Colossians 4 where Paul lists the names of those people who have been ministering with him during his time in prison. As John preached, it became obvious that Paul’s cast of supporting characters are still around today: those who start but drop out soon, those who are Mama’s boys, those who travel to bring information to others, those who open their homes. As a kind of grand finale to the message, John had LifeGroup hosts come up front and tell about the purpose of their groups.

That’s when the goosebumps started.

They were a motley bunch, alright. Very diverse in their appearance and stage of life. All of them were excited about doing life in community, and their varying purposes of their LifeGroups stunned me.

“We are going to feed the homeless in Lake Worth every Sunday afternoon. We leave when the food is done.”

“We want to give college-aged girls a place to find support while they chase after God’s purpose.”

“We’re going to use dance and worship to bring glory to God.”

“We’re going to explore the biblical ways to reduce tension and stress as we live our lives. And oh yeah, there’s a martial arts component to this LifeGroup so be prepared to move.”

“I love to cook: come for a complete home cooked meal and then we’ll discuss God’s life.”

“I hate to cook: can someone bring food?”

“I don’t cook either, but we’re going to learn about the Living Water and then find a way to share it.”

None of them were alike; each group had their own purpose. They were wide in their diversity and awe-inspiring in their unity. I was entranced. I looked around the theater — criss-crossing beams overhead, wooden floors and dimly-lit chandeliers — and was humbled by the authentic community represented by this church-in-the-middle of the city. Then I remembered it was my church, and I wanted to cry.

Leaving, David and I literally had to push our way through the lines of City Placers signing up for a new adventure in LifeGroups. We walked down the stairs and looked at City Place itself — Starbucks tucked under the theater along with a few other shops, restaurants lining the roads and people everywhere. A church, a coffeehouse and a mission. It doesn’t get any better than that.

The Ascent at City Place

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.