David Redish, pastor at The Crossing at 480, wasn’t content to rock his way to retirement. Instead, he and his congregation of Baby Boomers planted a church near the University of Kentucky campus to reach Millennials and Generation Z through celebration, camaraderie and teaching.
“[We want college students to know] that there is a wonderful, everlasting, guilt-free, alternate way to live in this world, to understand life, and to pursue what you believe is your calling in life,” David said. “We’re here to help you find it.”
The congregation at 480, as the church is known, seeks to be present, involved and available to their community. Their building not only functions as a meeting place for a weekly worship services, but also as a community center. The church rents their space to various groups, such as Young Life, as well as hosts Zumba classes, potlucks, tailgating parties, a philosophical small group, and recreational events.
The space is designed to allow for conversation and fellowship, but also has quieter spaces for studying. Although the church gives away coffee, hot chocolate and hamburgers, they are careful not to hide their identity.
“We give away hamburgers in the name of Jesus for the cause of Christ so that you can know Jesus,” David said. “The idea is to welcome people in here and then a conversation can come.”
Just as Paul did in Athens, David presents Christian faith to people who are not biblically oriented. College students often have questions about “Who is the Lord?” “Which god is he?” and “Why do you say that one?”
In his messages and conversations, David builds a case for who Jesus is as creator, explaining why it was necessary for Jesus to die for the sins of humanity, before presenting him as savior.
“We’ve made a beachhead, but that’s not the point,” David said. “We’ve got to move in and take the countryside and establish the kingdom in the area through discipleship and maturing ministry.”
The Crossing Covenant Church was originally on Old Todds Road, but three years ago David preached a message about ways to make the last fourth of your life more productive than the first three-fourths. After a few weeks of prayer, David and 15 others from the congregation were left with three ideas: let the adventure begin, rock climbing wall, and college students.
“We began our adventure by looking for a place with high ceilings and nearby college students,” David said.
Near the Newtown Crossing Apartments, 480 has 5,000 off-campus apartments within a two-mile radius. The church is in the process of completing the necessary permits and raising the money for a climbing wall.
“Either I never really grew up or I wouldn’t let myself grow up and get old,” David joked. “I’ve always just thoroughly enjoyed [being with young people] and been energized by it.”
David has taught Bible at Lexington Christian Academy for 25 years. He and his wife Sandra have four children.
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