DeKALB – When Paul DeHaven was a young boy growing up near Los Angeles, California, he had two dreams: he wanted be a farmer and a teacher.
Now DeHaven is teaching in a farming community; he is a pastor at Christ Community Church, 1600 Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.
In May 2016, the church broke ground for a new $7.3 million building at 2350 Pride Ave. in DeKalb. It’s scheduled to be completed in October.
Although the new church building will be approximately the same size – 40,000 square feet – the new auditorium space will be larger, increasing potential attendance space from 350 to 500 people. On average, 900 people attend one of the church’s three weekend services.
DeHaven met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss Christ Community Church, the construction of the new DeKalb building and examples of how the church helps people in the community and around the world.
Milton: What religion and denomination is Christ Community Church?
DeHaven: We are a nondenominational Christian church. Our DeKalb location is one of four campuses. The original church was started in 1984 in St. Charles. We started the DeKalb location in 2004. We have three weekend services: 5:10 p.m. Saturdays and 9:10 and 11:10 a.m. Sundays. We also have community groups that meet throughout the week, kids’ ministry weekends and Wednesday nights and students meet Wednesday nights. The meetings include games, Bible study and activities.
Milton: What do you believe as a congregation?
DeHaven: We believe strongly in God’s word, the Bible, and that Jesus is the only way for salvation. We want to share the good news of Jesus with everyone. We believe that the Bible is the word of God. Quoting 2Timothy 3:16 and 17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Milton: Do you have service projects in the community?
DeHaven: We are also very active in our community. We have monthly service projects and partner with Hope Haven, DeKalb Nursing and Rehab Center, Love INC, and Love and Faith in Action. We also mentor kids at Littlejohn Elementary. For us, it’s just being good people, out there to serve. It’s part of what we call our “Community Impact.” We want people to know who we are and that we and God love them. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Milton: Do you also have mission trips?
DeHaven: Our church partners with missions in six different countries. Our campus in DeKalb focuses on Brazil. I went to Brazil twice, and where we help is in the Amazon region, right in the jungle. It’s a city of 1.5 million people, everyone from the upper class to the poor living in slums.
Milton: How would you describe the church atmosphere?
DeHaven: We are a contemporary church. We have modern music, use the NIV translation of the Bible and wear jeans. We’re casual, and it’s part of our effort to reach people where they are and make them feel comfortable. … We are very friendly, a come-as-you-are type of church. We have six pastors at the DeKalb campus, and we each have a leadership role. The reason our services start 10 minutes after the hour is because we broadcast the sermon from St. Charles. We have a screen that comes down and the sermon is played, almost like watching a movie. The live music and announcements are done by us, though.
Milton: Why is it important to have a new building?
DeHaven: We have been wanting to build the new church since 2007 or 2008. It’s been part of our plan. Right now, we are renting space in what used to be the old Farm and Fleet. It would be nice, being able to have our own space. We would be able to increase our attendance from 350 to 500 people during a service. We average 900 people a weekend, so we need the extra space.
Milton: How will the new space be different?
DeHaven: The new church will have space available for events, for DeKalb Chamber meetings, the leadership academy and meeting space for our nonprofit partners. The auditorium will be a multi-purpose room with a flat floor, flexible seating and a stage. It will fit our contemporary style and will be reflective of our worship and methodology.
Milton: Will the new building have more square feet?
DeHaven: No, both our current space and the new building will be roughly the same size, 40,000 square feet. However, we are making our auditorium bigger. We will still have a lobby, classrooms and offices. It will be a more effective use of space, allowing us to increase the size of our auditorium.
Milton: Tell me more about yourself.
DeHaven: I am from the LA area originally. I lived in Dallas, Texas, for 18 years. I moved here about three years ago in December 2013. God called me here. I’ve always loved Chicago, and my wife’s family lives nearby. My two daughters also went to college nearby.
Milton: What is your religious background?
DeHaven: I attended Biola University for Christian Education in California. Then I attended the Denver Seminary for Pastoral Studies for grad school. I studied theology, the Bible, counseling, sociology and church history. … I’ve been a pastor for 25 years. When I was a kid, I wanted to be either a farmer or teacher. Now I’m teaching in a farming community. My wife, Jill, gave me a picture of “The Sower” by Van Gogh, and it hangs in my office. It always reminds me that the Bible has a lot about agriculture. Living here, not in LA, all of that makes more sense.
Milton: What are your goals for the future?
DeHaven: I absolutely love the area. I have a desire to serve the community, to partner with the community to be a resource to people. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. I want to stay here, see our church grow and make an impact in the community for years to come.