A new church is opening doors and hearts in the community, and reaching out to everyone without a home church.

Tahlequah Roots Church is an Open Network Church that has partnered with LifeChurch, which now has 33 locations, plus an online ministry. It also includes an exciting LifeKids ministry according to Brandi Barnett, one of the local organizers.

"Expect passionate worship paired with culturally-relevant messages from world-class speakers," said Barnett.

When Barnett bought a new office building a year ago, she also purchased the little building behind it that was a kennel, with hopes of growing a LifeGroup into a church.

"Nine months later, we are. God can move mountains," said Barnett. "We share the same mission, content, and relationship to reach people for Christ. We are our own church, but we partner with them to reach more people with more resources."

They're are all about the capital "C' church."

"The local church is the hope of the world, and we know we can accomplish infinitely more together than apart," Barnett said about one of the principles of the church.

She also likes that those who volunteer to serve are not expected to be in both services.

"They are expected to serve one and attend one so we may serve and be fed, as well," she said.

William Morgan serves as host team coordinator. He's volunteered for LifeChurch for four years, and trained for the past two years with TheBod Church in Roland, through workshops for leading volunteers and public speaking to large and small groups. He is a construction project manager for Compass Realty in Construction in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

"I've attended a LifeChurch or a church partnered with LifeChurch since 2010," said Morgan. "Everyone is welcome. We show love to all those who walk through the door, no matter their past experiences. Jesus showed love and he teaches us to show his love."

Tahlequah Roots Church is partnered with LifeChurch to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ, he said.

"We are focusing on the entire community and surrounding communities of Tahlequah," said Morgan.

Tahlequah Roots Church will launch its first Sunday experience on Sept. 15 in the Northeastern State University ballroom in the University Center.

Pastor Gary Lukens is lead pastor and planter for this new church launch. It's his third Open Network Church plant in partnership with LifeChurch.

"We are a nondenominational, independent church that uses the resources and teaching of LifeChurch, the largest growing church in the country," said Lukens.

He is retired from information technology management after 35 years, before he was called to plant new churches full time.

The Lukens have been involved with LifeChurch since almost the beginning.

"The values and beliefs of LifeChurch completely line up with our Christian values and beliefs," he said. "Being part of such an amazing church that has God's hand on it and seeing thousands of lives being changed every year has been a tremendous blessing to be a small part of."

Lukens said all are welcome, regardless of their past.

"Come and experience God in an informal environment with a great kids ministry, amazing contemporary worship and relational, Biblical teaching that will give you hope and direction for today and the future," he said. "Your life will be changed as you develop a relationship with Christ."

Jill Burns serves as treasurer and board member of Tahlequah Roots Church and has been a LifeGroup leader with her husband, Kevin, for the past 12 years. They lead a small group ministry that is focused on doing life together with a strong community of friends and fellow believers. She has served as a LifeKids leader for many years and is a certified public accountant with 26 years of combined public and industry experience.

"My family has been attending a LifeChurch campus for the last 15 years," said Burns. "We have been commuting to the Broken Arrow Kenosha campus since moving to Tahlequah."

They started a LifeGroup in Tahlequah with the hopes of meeting other families that were watching the LifeChurch sermons online or commuting like they were to another town to attend service. She said their group wished to open a local network church, but didn't have the skills or resources to make it happen.

"The Lord heard our prayers for this community and brought all the right people to help launch Tahlequah Roots Church," Burns said. "We will do anything short of sin to reach people that don't know Christ. To reach people no one is reaching, we'll have to do things no one is doing. We are faith-filled, big-thinking, bet the farm risk takers. We'll never insult God with small thinking and safe living."

Check it out

Tahlequah Roots Church will launch its first Sunday experience on Sept. 15 in the NSU University Center, 612 N. Grand Ave., with two services, 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Go to tahlequahroots.church for more information.

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