A church that has taken Hillsborough County by storm is opening its third campus right here in the heart of Plant City.
A new wave of worship is coming to Plant City.
The Crossing Church will open its doors Sept. 15 to the Plant City community, establishing its third location right here in the heart of the strawberry town. The Crossing Church has built a dedicated following over the years as folks flock to the worship halls each week to discover a different way to “do church.”
“When we looked at our demographics, we found a lot of our members were from Eastern Hillsborough County,” Greg Dumas, lead pastor, said. “Lots of our people, even our staff, were coming from Lakeland, Plant City, Valrico, so it just makes sense that we have a campus there. What’s so ironic is, five years ago, we were looking for a location and we started praying about it and we even walked around this very location in Plant City, praying and asking God for guidance.”
For now, The Crossing Church will set up shop in partnership with MadZone, the children’s bounce house and gaming establishment in the heart of the Midtown district. Dumas said the owners of MadZone have been very open and helped make this a perfect partnership.
During Sunday services, the children will be able to play in the massive fun area while their parents attend worship in the attached banquet hall. There will be an elaborate live worship experience, fellowship and, of course, the sermon from Dumas.
There are also rooms for the normal activities at the other campuses like a cafe, nursery and other break-off activities.
Part of the appeal of The Crossing Church is that it builds its foundation in a blended approach. Using a hybrid model that mixes centralization and decentralization, the church moves as two different units that share a common core.
You have a campus pastor, Michael Pippin, that will be there to pour everything he has into the community. Pippin’s children are sixth-generation Plant Citians and he said his love for the community is practically in his DNA. When you go to the hospital, Pippin is there. When you’re getting ready to start the next chapter of your life and want to have your pastor standing at the end of the aisle during your wedding day, Pippin is there. Any joy or sadness that comes in your life can be shared with your campus pastor.
Then, when you finish a round of worship on Sunday mornings — which is a mix of Hillsong and Elevation— you sit down and gaze at three massive screens to absorb a live streamed sermon from Dumas. Two pastors with two very different callings make up the structure of each campus and, from there, a large portion of the congregation zeroes in on an even deeper network: Life Groups.
Life Groups, which act as the relationship builders for the community, are the blood that brings The Crossing Church to life.
The small groups are similar to Bible studies in that they’re smaller gatherings where people have the opportunity to walk through life together. They are where the love demonstrated throughout scripture is so easily accessed.
“Life Groups are where a big church becomes small,” Pippin said. “We want to go into a place and establish a group of people that love and care about each other and encourage each other, and are helping each other really get through this life together. That’s where relationships build, that’s where they learn together. We serve together. This is how you impact a community.”
The church also has a trend of partnering with local community organizations to ensure it can expand its ministry into the needs of its community. Dumas said he expects the same to occur as they dive deeper into Plant City and that they’re all about meeting whatever the current need may be.
“Every little bit of good you do matters,” Dumas said. “You miss your purpose if you’re coming to church for a particular song or message. We aren’t here for that. There’s a reason that a majority of our members take part in our Life Groups. When they plug into this, it really changes lives.”
Relationships are at the core of what sets The Crossing Church apart and that’s evident in its casual atmosphere on Sunday mornings. Folks roll in for the 10:30 a.m. sermon and both pastors expect to see the seats filled. The dress code is relaxed with some coming in shorts and flip-flops and others dressed to the nines. Whatever you’re comfortable in is what they want you to wear. Appearances matter very little to the congregation — they’re simply glad you came.
“We tend to have a lot of young families with lots of diversity,” Pippin said. “We look like our community. We have a great blending of African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian worshipers. We’re from all different backgrounds and socioeconomic status. It’s just like Heaven. We open our doors and we worship with everything we have. It’s built into our DNA and we look forward to doing that in Plant City as well.”
The church has offered tours of the new facility for a few weeks and dozens of attendees gather each time to see what’s to come. You can sign up for text updates online and follow the church on social media to stay plugged in.
There are many ministries on the horizon for the church and as it continues to grow, it will expand its reach in the community. When the day comes that it has outgrown its current home, talk will begin of finding a more permanent location in town.
For now, however, Dumas said they’re just excited to have the chance to welcome local residents home.