We believe there is one divine being who has existed eternally. He exists and reveals Himself to man in three distinct, equally divine persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the beginning of time, God created the entire universe and all its creatures. He continues to exercise His supreme power to sustain His creation. Throughout history, He has expressed His desire to be our God and to have a personal, eternal relationship with us.
WE ARE LOCALWATCH VIDEO
We seek to be transformed by the Scriptures, love and serve the people in Grand Rapids. Our hope is modeled after Jesus' prayer, that God's will would be done in Grand Rapids as it is in Heaven. We are a church for the city. We believe the church isn't a building, but a people in a place, working and living out the Gospel each day in our lives, in our city. We gather together to open the Scriptures, pray, worship, listen to the Spirit, and experience the presence of God. It is our desire to make the Kingdom accessible to our families, friends, neighbors and entire city.
We believe Jesus changes everything. We are people committed to living out His teachings in the world. We seek to spend our strength on others and to take risks to see the Kingdom expand because we believe there is hope and life in Jesus for everyone. We're not perfect and we don’t have everything figured out, but that won’t stop us from humbly holding up the Bread of Life to a hungry world. One beggar, showing another where to find food.
We are a new church in the city, and we meet at 1601 Galbraith Ave SE Suite 304 Grand Rapids, MI 49546 on Sundays at 10AM. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, with whatever you carry, we are for you. When you’re here, you’re Local.
WHAT WE BELIEVE...
We believe that Jesus is the eternal divine Son of God. He chose voluntarily to be made in human likeness and was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Although He lived a sinless life, He allowed Himself to be executed by crucifixion. However, as prophesied, He rose from the dead three days after His execution, securing salvation for all who will believe.
About the Holy Spirit
The third person of God is the Holy Spirit. We believe the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christ-follower. His indwelling presence gives spiritual life to believers and distinguishes them as children of God. The Holy Spirit guides Christ-followers in applying God’s principles, equips Christ-followers with talents and abilities for the purpose of building up God’s kingdom. The Spirit is an Advocate for us, helping us, defending us and empowering us.
God created mankind to live in relationship with Him. However, the first man and woman were deceived by Satan. They rebelled and chose to be wrongfully independent from God. We all fail to live up to the perfect standard God desires and are open to Satan’s deception. Our failure to please God, unless a relationship is re-established with Him, results in condemnation under God’s judgment and would cause us to spend eternity in hell. Furthermore, there is nothing we can do on our own (we can’t be “good enough” or do “more good deeds than bad deeds”) to re-establish our relationship with God.
About a Relationship with God
Our inability to re-establish our relationship with God leaves us dependent on God’s mercy. God graciously provided the means to reconcile this relationship through faith in Jesus Christ. Our relationship is re-established when we make a commitment to accept Jesus as God’s son and our Savior and Lord. We demonstrate our commitment privately by faith (acting upon our belief that God has the power to save us) and repentance (turning back to God and depending on Him to control our lives). At the same time, we publicly express our commitment by confessing our acceptance of God’s salvation and submitting ourselves in Christian baptism.
About the Christian Life
Once our relationship is re-established with God, we naturally want to spend time with Him and know Him better. The Holy Spirit enlightens us as we read God’s Word (the Bible), as we communicate with Him in prayer, and as we enter into loving relationships (Biblical community) with other Christ-followers. In this way, we begin to know God more intimately. The process of spiritual development motivates us to seek ways to serve God and prepares us to spend eternity in fellowship with Him.
About the Church
The word church literally means assembly or gathering. It is the gathering of Christ-followers around Jesus and was created by God for our benefit and His glory! The Bible speaks of the church as Christ’s body. It compares it to a living organism, where Jesus is the head. He gives each Christ-follower special functions to perform for the good of the body. To remain healthy, the body’s members must work together. Each part contributes to the growth and maturity of the body. For this reason, it is important for Christ-followers to regularly gather together for the purpose of celebration. Celebration in this way enables believers to serve one another and neighbors in their sphere of influence.
About the Bible
God divinely inspired human authors to write the sixty-six books of the Bible. He communicated through these writers the values, principles, and ideals which please Him and are in our best interests. We believe the Bible is entirely accurate, complete, and reliable. It can be trusted and it reveals who God is to us and how we can be reconciled to Him through Jesus.
Toran is the lead pastor here at The Local Church and he still can’t believe he gets to do what he loves for a living. Toran loves to teach, mobilize, lead teams and is passionate about raising up young leaders. He’s been a pastor for nearly 20 years, working with students, young adults, in discipleship and as a teaching pastor. Toran did his undergrad at Cedarville University, Seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and PhD at Western Michigan University.
Toran married his college crush way back in ‘98; she’s still his crush but also his best friend. He and Brenda have four very fun and crazy kids, Tayton, Isabella, Kingston and Maximilian.
Toran has had some interesting hobbies over the years, from building acoustic guitars to training police dogs, painting, woodworking and riding motorcycles on race tracks. He used to be active in a lot of sports but now he mostly complains about “straining his hammies”. His most interesting talent is that he can do the entire story of Jonah with balloon animals, seriously, ask him…
Pastor of Worship Culture
Jordan leads the weekend gathering, and about a million other things here at The Local Church. He is passionate about crafting atmospheres of worship for people to experience the presence of God in a powerful way. He has led worship for various retreats and festivals, and has started a conference for worship teams called “The Worship Collective”.
Jordan and his wife Dana love hanging out together with their two kids, Judah and Selah. Spending time together enjoying the beach, camping, exploring the woods and watching movies are just a few things they love to do as a family.
Jordan loves music, playing the guitar, and creating art. He also loves all things tech - from video games to cell phones and is a total Apple fanboy. To his surprise, he has even become a runner and enjoys jogging to get exercise in. You can find him at the beach, eating tacos, or watching Lost.
Dave is the Associate Pastor at The Local Church, helping in all things Local. He is passionate about partnering with parents by helping them step into their role as the primary spiritual influence on their kid’s lives. Dave loves helping students participate in God’s Kingdom and realize their identity in Christ. Dave has worked with students and families for the last 10 years. He earned his undergrad degree in Youth Ministry and Bible from Cornerstone University, a Masters in Ministry Leadership from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and is currently pursing a Masters in Counseling from GRTS.
Dave lives in Zeeland with his amazing wife Megan and 3 kids (Finnegan, Leighton and Colin) and their dog Shaun Luke Skywalker. They love camping, spending time together, playing games and going to the beach. Dave has a deep love for cooking, reading, Star Wars, and all things 80’s - especially Back to the Future. Originally from Ann Arbor, Dave is a die hard University of Michigan fan. Saturday’s are spent watching Michigan football and March finds him cheering on the Wolverines to another Final Four.
Pastor of Spiritual and Local Engagement
Austin is the Pastor of Spiritual and Local Engagement at TLC. Austin joined the staff in 2018 and helps create and facilitate the ways we love and serve our city (especially our awesome partnership with Ken-O-Sha Elementary) and creates pathways to help deepen our relationship with God. Austin enjoys learning, stories, teaching, and mobilizing others. He loves the way of Jesus and is passionate about showcasing the beauty of Christ to others in our City, and inviting others to do the same. Before serving at The Local Church, Austin spent time working with churches across the city with the Luis Palau Association as part of the CityFest movement. Austin earned his undergrad degree in Ministry and Bible and Theology from Huntington University.
Austin lives in downtown Grand Rapids with his wife Olivia and they love going to the beach, exploring downtown and delicious meals with friends. Austin is a movie and music buff who also loves a good book. Originally from Indianapolis, he’s a huge basketball fan and is fanatic about the Indiana Pacers. Also while growing up in Indianapolis, Austin may have been part of a bible quizzing team…that won nationals…when he was 12…(although rumor has it that he was the weak link).
Rachel grew up in the church, but was always convinced she wouldn't work in one.
God had different plans. Before serving at The Local Church, Rachel spent time working with churches, non-profits, and city leaders across the city with the Luis Palau Association as part of the CityFest movement in Grand Rapids and Tyler, Texas.
This is where her love for bringing people to the Kingdom came to thrive. Rachel will be working in an administrative and creative role with our team at TLC. She is settling into her favorite city of Grand Rapids where she loves to go to Reeds Lake, walk around downtown, and explore new places to eat with friends. She is extremely excited to see what God is going to do through her at TLC!
Freddy is the current worship resident at TLC. While he loves singing and playing, Freddy is truly passionate about seeing the next generation grow passionate about following Jesus.
Born in England and moving to the US when he was young, his amazing parents instilled a fervor for Jesus at a young age. He graduated from Grand Valley with degrees in Marketing and Music, and he has worked and volunteered in the worship ministry space for close to 10 years at numerous different churches around the country. Freddy and his wife Elise live downtown Grand Rapids with their dog Roa. Together, they like to drink copious amounts of coffee while watching the world go by from their window. In his free time, you can find Freddy playing video games, reading a book, or hiking across the country.
Teaching Team Member
Reverend Erin Clifford joins the team as one of our teaching voices using her gifts for stellar biblical insight and winsome application to everyday life. When she’s not with us for a weekend teaching and spearheading some of our leadership development efforts she works full-time as the Director of Spiritual and Missional Formation at Fuller Theological Seminary. Erin is an international speaker, pastor and advocate for the poor.
From her years living in East Africa and London, Erin developed a passion to see humanity flourishing in other cultures, including the poorest of the poor. As a continuation of the belief in the role of the local church as a vehicle of God’s trans-formative hope for the world, Erin is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Missiology in the theology of suffering.
Erin can often be found eating cheddar cheese, drinking coffee, sitting in the sun, talking about Jesus or laughing loudly in or around Washington, DC where she currently resides.
TEACHING TEAM MEMBER
Dr. Gary Burge joins the team as one of our teaching voices. He is an internationally recognized New Testament scholar who has a passion for the Church and the Middle East and loves to make the Bible come alive. He has been an encouraging supporter of what God is doing at TLC and we’re super excited for his voice and investment in our community.
Gary is currently the Dean of Faculty at Calvin Seminary after teaching for 25 years at Wheaton College and Graduate School and when he’s not with us he and his wife are deeply involved with Church of the Servant here in GR. Gary holds degrees from the University of California and Fuller Seminary and received his PhD from Kings College, Aberdeen University, Scotland.
Gary continues to write both academically and pastorally and has a special love for the gospels, especially the Gospel of John. He has done extensive work in Israel and Palestine and has a passion for the Church in the Middle East where he regularly visits. He is an international speaker, esteemed professor and prolific author.
All of this you could easily find with a simple google search, but what you wouldn’t find is that Gary loves Volvos and IKEA (although his Swedish heritage is most likely the cause) and is a connoisseur of all things pickled (including herring). In fact if you ask nicely, he may even share some from his personal stash…
Spiritual Formation Guides
Philip and Bonnie serve as Spiritual Formation Guides to Staff at The Local Church, GR and have focused their lives on the pursuit of becoming like Jesus in word and deed. Philip taught at Cornerstone University for many years and Bonnie within the Grand Rapids Public School system and both love combining their teaching skills with their training in Spiritual Direction. Before that, they were long term missionary teachers in Kenya, East Africa at Moffat College of Bible. Over the years they have visited and taught in approximately 40 countries. Philip and Bonnie are the parents of four adult children and have 11 grandchildren. Being and making disciples of Jesus is the passion of their lives, whether that is through teaching, photography, or surfing the internet. They still haven’t found a Chai Tea to rival what they enjoyed in Africa but have not given up the hunt...