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The Story of Christ Church

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

This month marks two years that Christ Church Presbyterian has been meeting for Sunday morning worship. The plant was started by Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN with the desire glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ, reaching the unchurched and dechurched in the Northwest Knox areas of Powell and Knoxville.

In February 2021, John Blevins, the associate pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, began leading a Sunday afternoon prayer meeting in his home and eventually a Bible study. The core group was made up of his family, two families from Covenant, a single mother, a widow from the Powell area, and a man from another PCA church who wanted to support the beginnings of this plant.

That summer, a local church contacted them, offering the church plant the use of their building. The leaders told Christ Church, “We want a Bible-believing, gospel-centered, Presbyterian church to reach our neighbors. We don’t want the building to sit empty or get bulldozed.”

This provided a place for Christ Church to meet for Sunday morning services with fellowship afterward. They also began a mid-week gathering with fellowship, worship, and teaching in the fall of 2021. Then, in January 2022, John became the full-time church planting pastor for Christ Church.

John recalled reports about Knox County from around 2016 which found that only about 18% of residents were connected to a church. “Looking at those numbers was heartbreaking,” he said. “We’re living off the fumes of the Christian past; the remnants are all around us. Sadly, both legalistic and liberal teachings have pushed people away from many churches in our area. My wife, Taylor, and I, our hearts go out to folks who are lost who haven’t been given the blessing of the Lord opening their eyes to the truth of the gospel and grace.”

John and Taylor Blevins with their sons Benton (left), Walker (center), and JC (right).

John and Taylor remember well life before the Lord saved them while they were both students at Appalachian State University. A few weeks after God brought them to faith, He brought them together when they met through mutual friends.

John said, “In high school, I had a sense that God existed but I didn’t have a relationship with Him, and I knew I wasn’t right with Him. Life was pretty much all about me. I tried to figure out ways to numb the guilt I felt for my sin.”

Although he had heard the gospel before, it wasn’t until his time at App State that a clear presentation of the gospel reached Blevins’ heart. He describes it as a transformational experience. “The Lord came to me; I wasn’t seeking him out. He changed my affections and desires.”

John dove into God’s word. “It hit me pretty immediately that I’m not okay, that I’m living as if I’m God, and I’ve cared nothing about my Creator.”

John sees the pervasive nature of “selfism” in America and understands it well because that used to be his worldview. “Selfism is the biggest religion, certainly in America. The Lord has graciously allowed me to show a little more grace and a little more empathy to non-Christians, desiring that they would receive the gift I’ve been given.”

These days on Sunday mornings, about 50 to 60 folks gather as Christ Church. The midweek gatherings are sometimes larger than that. The plant hopes to start an evening service this fall, sharing a meal afterward. John is also connected to people in the community who aren’t connected to the rest of the church yet. He says, “We consistently have visitors. We’re praying and striving to be faithful, we're reaching out to our neighbors, we're laboring to make disciples through the ordinary means of grace, and the Lord’s blessed us in many ways as we move toward particularization.”

Christ Church shares meals together in the middle of each week.

He reflected on the balance of reaching the lost while also discipling the flock, saying, “There’s this whole balance of reaching folks while at the same time discipling those who the Lord has brought – not wanting to be totally inward focused or totally outward focused. We’re thinking through that right now, especially as we’re praying about training up officers. How do we not only make disciples but also grow mature disciples?”

Many involved in the church plant are stepping up to serve and lead, and the church also partnered with Tennessee Kids Belong to serve a local foster family this past year. John explained, “We basically treated them as one of our own with prayer, meals, respite, doing laundry, having the kids at some of our events, and sending encouraging notes.”

Christ Church would not be where they are without large partner churches, and John is thankful for this support. He is also excited about smaller churches, saying, “I appreciate how the Lord uses large and small churches to the glory of His Name. Lord willing, I can be used by God to help establish clusters of healthy Reformed presbyterian churches all across the greater Knoxville area. My personal belief is that in churches under 300 people that are connected to their local community, elders are able to shepherd really well, doing the job of equipping the saints for the work of ministry and to be salt and light every day and everywhere they go. Above all, I am praying for churches that are about the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. To reach the lost, we need a lot of faithful churches, and we need all the current churches to be healthy and growing in grace.”

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