You might’ve seen the equipment truck parked outside the Colonial Theatre on weekends and wondered what was happening there.
Each weekend, Journey Church holds services at the theater, the second of two campuses the church has. In addition to the church services, Journey also has Boot Groups, where groups of volunteers give back to the church’s non-profit strategic partners.
According to Don Heller of Journey Church, Head Pastor Steve DeFrain was offered a former Mennonite Church in Limerick for free, along with the seven acres on the site.
“That kind of jumpstarted Journey Church,” Heller explained.
Over the four years since that happened, the church has blossomed to serve approximately 700 people between the two campuses. DeFrain actually stumbled upon Phoenixville by accident, getting lost in the town.
“They were in love with this town at that time,” Heller said.
While walking by the Colonial, there was talk of holding a service at the theater, and church leaders held a Christmas service at the theater. They liked the way it went and mentioned they’d like to have services there every week. Soon, after some kinks were worked out, the second campus was born right here in Phoenixville. Heller said church members help out with volunteer work around the theater, and overall it’s just a good relationship.
“They’re amazing,” Heller said. “I believe we have an awesome relationship.”
Each Sunday, an “experience,” as it’s called, is held at the Colonial, at 11:30 a.m. At the Limerick campus, three weekly experiences are offered on Sundays at 9, 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. The church’s motto states that it exists “for those not yet here,” and there’s a focus on attracting those who normally wouldn’t go to church.
“Everything we do is to reach people who would not want to go to church,” Heller said. “Everything we do is to reach someone who’s far from God.”
Heller’s own story with Journey began when he walked in the doors of the Limerick campus one Sunday four years ago. While he was raised Catholic, Heller hadn’t been to church in years and was constantly being told by the pastor’s brother that he should check out Journey Church.
“I made fun of him the whole time,” Heller said.
He was having a rough patch in his life and decided to go see what all the hubbub was about. Heller heard DeFrain’s message that day and gave his life to Christ.
“That Sunday changed my life,” Heller said.
While he admits he didn’t even know what a pastor was on that day, he now serves as the Journey Church head pastor for the Phoenixville campus. Along with seeking out those who haven’t found the church yet, a big focus is on community involvement and giving back.
“We don’t exist to do anything for ourselves,” Heller said.
On a weekly basis, the Boot Groups go out in the area to volunteer with the 10 strategic partners, which include Phoenixville non-profits like Good Samaritan Shelter and the Freedom Valley YMCA’s Phoenixville location. In addition, 10 percent of tithes go to local organizations.
“We want to be known for what we give, not what we take,” Heller said.
The church is hoping to find more strategic partners that can take on the large volume of volunteers sent out by the church each week. Everyone who calls Journey home serves the community in some capacity, Heller said.
For those wanting to check out Journey Church, Easter Sunday offers up a good opportunity. There will be a glow-in-the-dark Easter event at 11:30 a.m. at the Colonial, and the church will offer up Club 212 for its Journey Kids, geared to youngsters ages 3 to 12.
For more information on Journey Church, visit www.journeypa.tv.