Acts 2:42 tells us what the early Christians did when they gathered: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." They were devoted to growing up in their faith, growing in their relationship with God as they studied what Jesus had taught the Apostles to teach.
They were devoted to the fellowship, to growing together with one another. The “fellowship” means the “sharing.” They shared a common faith. They shared a common mission: to love God, to love people, and to make disciples of all nations. They shared their wants and their needs with one another. And they took care of each other. They also broke bread together – they ate the meal that became known as the Agape, the love feast, which often was followed by an observance of the Lord’s Supper. They prayed for one another.
The result? Acts 2:46 says “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” It wasn’t long and the Christians in Jerusalem got persecuted. All of them except the apostles left town and relocated. This was God’s way of continuing to grow out his church. Acts 8:4 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
Our ambition at Christ the King is to imitate those early Christians. We hope to grow up in our faith as God’s word is proclaimed in worship, and as we study it in different age-level Bible classes on Sunday mornings. Our adult Bible studies generally take one of two forms: either we will 1. Study an individual book of the Bible from its beginning to its end, or we will 2. Study what the entire Bible says about specific topics or issues, such as marriage, sexuality, managing what God has given to us, reaching out to others with the gospel, etc. Our congregation is grateful to God that any and every pastor who serves our congregation is able to work in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament and the original Koine Greek of the New Testament. During the Sunday morning Education Hour (9:15 am) our youth (age 3 through teens) study Bible history lessons with dedicated teachers. Students in grades 7 and 8 have a weekday class with Pastor Mark in which we study all of the teachings of the Bible.
We also hope to mimic the first Christians in the way we devote ourselves to getting to know one another and caring about one another’s needs. We grow together as we pray together for the needs of this world, for the Christian Church on earth, and for the people of our congregation.
We also want to grow out in numbers as a congregation to the point where we will outgrow our new facility and take on the mission of planting another congregation somewhere else in the metro Tulsa area.
We believe the entire Bible is the inspired word of God.
We believe that God is three persons in one Being: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe the Bible proclaims what God has done through our Savior, Jesus, to save a world of dying sinners for a full life of faith now and a life of glory forever in heaven.
We believe that we receive salvation through Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, and this has been revealed to us by the Scriptures alone.
For more information on what we believe, visit www.understandchristianity.com
The hope, dream, and goal of many Christian churches in America is to grow to become a mega-church. Not so with Christ the King congregation. We recently built our first church campus. The facility is large enough for a congregation of between 150-200 adults. Once we reach that number, we will plant a daughter congregation somewhere else in the metro Tulsa area. We do not want to become a mega-church and here’s why:
⦁ We want a congregation that has a family feel – a church where members get to know each other and interact outside of Sunday morning, a church where the pastor calls everyone by name, and he will visit you at home if you will welcome him to do so.
⦁ We want a congregation that isn’t so big that there are 10+ pastors and nobody knows who to go to for what. Church experts say that one pastor can satisfactorily minister to about 200-250 people. Our pastor will read some Scripture and pray with you at the hospital before your surgery. He will visit you during your period of recovery in the hospital and offer you spiritual encouragement.
⦁ We want a congregation where, if a crisis arises in our life or we have an issue that bothers us, we can call the pastor and he will move heaven and earth to be there for us, instead of penciling us in for two weeks from tomorrow.
This new and modern worship practice is radically different from what the church did in worship from its inception until the last part of the 20th century in America. When the first Christians in Jerusalem began to gather shortly after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, they did what they had been used to doing as God’s people in their Jewish synagogues. There was a reading from the Law of Moses, and one or more readings from the Old Testament prophets. The synagogue leader or some other spiritual man was asked to speak at length about the teachings of one of the day’s lessons (readings). Since God had given his Old Testament Church a hymnal that contained 150 hymns, some of the Psalms were sung. Prayers were offered.
That practice has continued in the church for two millennia. Although, since we have 39 more books of the Bible in the New Testament than the church of the Old Testament had, the New Testament worshipers still used three lessons every time they gathered, but one was from the Old Testament, one was from a letter of one of the apostles, and one was from one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The priest/pastor spoke at length about one of the lessons.
At Christ the King we continue to do what the Church has done for two millennia. This practice always puts the spotlight on the work of Jesus, and not on us. We don’t have to do it this way. But we think it’s a good idea. If this practice served God’s Church well for two thousand years, and God blessed this practice, and through it grew the church to the universal magnitude we see today…well, why try to fix what isn’t broken? Instead of dumbing down the Church, we want to build up believers.
One thing we – like other churches – have added in worship (that the early Church did not practice) is a Children’s Message. Every Sunday children age 3 through grade 4 are invited to come forward to sit on the floor in front of the chancel as the pastor gets down to their level and talks about one of the lessons of the day as it applies to their lives. Every Sunday the pastor gives each child an object that in some is related to the lesson, so that the child can take it home as a reminder of the lesson that was taught.
Throughout the history of the Christian Church different songs were composed and sung to enrich worship. Some of them go back as far as the second and third centuries. We still sing the texts of some of these songs today. The texts are ancient, but the melodies for the songs were composed in the 21st century. In fact, a good amount of the service music we use in our worship was composed by our pastor over the past 15 years.
We regularly sing hymns that people of God have historically named as their favorites. Some of them may go back to the 18th century, like “Amazing Grace” and some, like “Speak, O Lord” were written within the last decade.
Unlike many churches, we include a psalm in virtually every service. The congregation sings a refrain that is easy to learn. Either the congregation speaks the verses of the psalm together, or the choir sings the verses in four-part harmony. What better songs to sing in worship than hymns that God himself wrote?
Our pastor wears an alb (white robe). Why? Because historically, that’s the way the presiding minister in the church dressed. Just as a judge wears a black robe as his/her uniform in the court, just as a police officer wears a uniform to identify him/her as an officer of the police department, just as doctors and nurses wear scrubs at the hospital to identify them with their profession, so the vestments of the pastor identify him as the publicly called servant in the congregation.
In short, our worship is informally formal. The formality exists because we believe it is proper to behave in a rather formal fashion when we come into the presence of Christ the King, the Almighty God. The informality exists because we’re not stuffy and austere people. We hope you will find us real and authentic
Pastor Mark has served Christ the King since its inception. He moved to Tulsa with his wife, Betsy, in 2012. Betsy works in the social services division of a local nursing home. The Lord has blessed them with three children. Kristin Crow and her husband, Kelly, live in Houston, TX. Retired US Army Sgt. Peter and his wife, Lauren live in Jacksonville, FL with Mark and Betsy only grandchild, a 8-year-old named Jason. Their youngest daughter, Brooke, lives in Austin, TX.
Before coming to Tulsa Pastor Mark served as pastor of congregations in South Milwaukee, WI, New Orleans, LA, and The Woodlands, TX. For five years he served as the Dean of Students of Northwestern Preparatory School in Watertown, WI.