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Church mixes spirituality and technology

Marching to the beat of their own drummer, families have started a new church, with dimmed lights, a fog machine and upbeat music.

"This is a very contemporary worship service," said Michael Young, pastor of Crosswalk Community Church. "We want people to come as you are. This church has less boundaries and is more permission-giving."

He says the people who attend will have more of a say in how the church is run.

"If the women feel they need a women's group, they can form one," he said. "This is not a pastor-run church."

The church meets from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays at the Song and Dance Studio at Quail Hollow Plaza on State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel.

The first part of the service is singing to praise music, followed by fellowship at the coffee bar.

Then the pastor delivers the message in a non-traditional way, sometimes wearing a costume to emphasize the theme of his message and most of the time using a projector to show a music video or a movie clip. On a recent Sunday, Young wore a Star Wars costume to call extra attention to his sermon.

"We are anticipating the people," said Young's wife, Mary Beth. "We are trying to use this style for people to get excited, feel free to worship and feel God's spirit."

The Youngs have two children, Sydney, 8, and David, 16, who runs the sound system.

"It has been a lot of work . . . but worth it. We want to get the word out to the people," David said.

Cliff Powell, and his wife, Stephanie, were also involved in starting the church. The Powells have three children, Ethan, 12, Garrett, 9, and Meredith, 6.

The Powells were instrumental in the design and building of the equipment.

Six black storage trunks on wheels contain the items that combine to become the church.

In one is the nursery. In another is the coffee bar. Two contain the worship center. And the youth and children's equipment can be found in another trunk.

The final cart contains information about the church and is referred to as a "newsstand."

"God took care of every obstacle," said Cliff Powell, an engineer. "(We just needed to) have faith and trust. God can make it happen."

Setting up the church takes an hour and a half of both families' time.

Part of the worship center is a computerized "disc jockey" system that holds up to 500 tracks of music. The track lighting and fog machine are computerized.

"I'm ready to get radical," said Stephanie Powell, describing the somewhat unorthodox worship.

Throughout the praise portion of the service children danced, people clapped their hands and raised them in worship while the computer played songs such as We Will Dance. Most of the music is from Vineyard tracks, another contemporary ministry that began in California and is franchised throughout the United States.

"We could not have done this without all the support and prayers from many Christian friends," Michael Young said.

"(We feel) this is what people need today, to become part of the service," said Cliff Powell.

For more information, call Michael Young at Crosswalk Community Church at (813) 991-6558 or (813) 994-1278.