By DENISE FEDOROW
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — There’s a new church in town seeking to minister to those who are lost; who don’t know God and those who are seeking truth.
Jeff Cooper is the pastor of Christ’s Kingdom Church, which meets at Bosco’s Place, 117 S. Fifth St. in Goshen. Jeff and his wife Rebecca have been married 21 years. He’s a graduate of World Harvest Bible Institute, Columbus, Ohio, and is ordained through LeSea (Lester Sumrall Evangelist Association) and World Harvest Ministries.
Jeff was part of a Christian rock band and evangelized through that for several years. “Rebecca came to know the Lord through that ministry,” he said.
The Coopers were both called to go into an inter-city ministry, which they called “a great experience” and from there went to Orlando, Fla., to Faith World Center of Orlando, also connected to the Bible Institute. Cooper was told he should be a street pastor and so he went out to the streets, talking to people one-on-one “sometimes in the bar’s parking lot” and helped to feed and clothe them. He said the first service had 350 people and they’ve since grown to 6,000.
The couple then moved home to northern Indiana and Jeff taught Bible classes to grades seven through 12 at the Christian Center School in South Bend, part of LeSea’s ministry and also helped at other churches.
“Then the Lord brought back the vision to raise up a church,” he said.
Cooper said a lot of new churches start with “recycled members,” who go from one place to another, but he felt what God’s plan for this church is for people who don’t know Jesus. He said of course everyone is welcome at the non-denominational, multi-racial church where their “mission is to see broken lives restored.”
They went door to door in Goshen, getting the word out about their church. They also partnered with Steve and Jodi Ignowski, who have been married 27 years. The Ignowskis have been doing outreach, jail and juvenile ministry since 1996 and in 2007 founded Lifeline. By partnering with Lifeline they’ve been able to do things, including a community block party held at Broadmore Estates where they did face-painting, music, puppets and provided free clothing, books and Bibles to those in need.
They also outreach regularly to Bashor Home in Goshen. Two times a month they go for relationship building and then also two times a month they have a separate Bible study for boys and girls.
Cooper said Bashor Home is without a chaplain so they are trying to help be a bridge and help the kids dealing with difficult situations. Cooper said they were also blessed to have been brought someone with many years as a youth pastor — Scott Phenis. Pastor Scott has been a youth pastor for 10 years and has three teenagers of his own with his wife, Dee.
Christ’s Kingdom Fellowship began in the Cooper’s home on May 20, 2012, and has been meeting publicly at Bosco’s Place since September. The couple’s two children — Kathleen, 16, is the worship leader and will be going to Bethel as a freshman, and son, Chase, recently turned 12 and plays guitar. Rebecca sings and Pastor Jeff can still be found on the drums.
“People are surprised by that,” Rebecca said. “He’s on the drums and then he’ll get up and preach.”
Pastor Jeff smiled saying he studied jazz at Indiana University and does teach private lessons, so he still plays with the worship band fairly regularly.
Christ’s Kingdom Fellowship has a small group that meets the second and fourth Wednesday called Encounter, where they “seek the face of God.” Pastor Jeff feels it is time for a great awakening in the area — a true repentance.
“It’s so easy to justify what we do sometimes,” he said. “But would Jesus consider it sinful? For the community to change the church has to change.”
He mentioned the fact that Bosco’s is just a block from where a recent murder-suicide took place. The pastor said the culture of his church is to practice the principles of the early church and he cited Acts 2:42, which reads:, “They devoted themselves to teaching of the apostles, to communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to prayers.”
“Our whole approach is we’re not concerned with political correctness. We love people,” he said.
Four times a year they hold a 180-degree event which he said is a full-blown church service with modern music. “We call it 180 because as Christians we all need to make a complete turnaround — that’s what following Christ is all about. Or we are still showing sin a face — God requires we spin around 180-degrees,” he said.
“Our church service concentrates on four points:
• “We want people to encounter God — to personally encounter the power of his unfailing love. You can’t manufacture that.
• “To know God — intimately through His Word;
• To discover God’s purpose for their lives, because God created everyone for a specific purpose and to develop meaningful relationships — ones that move beyond being social to a reciprocal relationship,” the pastor explained.
• “We want to heal the broken-hearted, to do as it says in Luke 4:18: ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”
Cooper said as pastors they tend to want to put a “healing salve” on people, but he said that’s not enough. They also have to teach them so they don’t go down the path again. “That’s the call for leaders of the church,” he said. “It’s very much on my heart that we have to equip and mature saints.”
Rebecca said, “It’s important for folks to know this is not a church split. Our pastor, Mark Lantz, brought us up front and released us publicly. He knew it was on our hearts to start this church.”
Jeff concurred. “It’s been very much on our hearts to reach out to the hurting as it states in Isaiah 58:12: ‘The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, the foundation from ages past you shall raise up; “repairer of the breach” they shall call you, “restorer of ruined homesteads.”’”
“I really believe we can restore broken lives to Jesus and restore truth in the church,” he said. “Sixty percent of Evangelical Christians and 80 percent of our young people deny the existence of absolute truth. It’s time to rebuild the foundation.”