Carl Junction Church Adds Campus to Joplin Neighborhood Life House

By Chris Moon

The Carl Junction Christian Church launched a new campus near the heart of Joplin, Mo.

The campus—called the North Heights Christian Church— operates out of the original Joplin house Ozark Christian College.


adam jonesChristian Church senior minister Carl Junction, said the North Heights neighborhood has needed a church for years.

“There are no churches in this neighborhood,” he said.

The new campus began operating in June and held its grand opening on August 14.

Sixteen people from Carl Junction Church helped launch the new campus. Attendance averaged about 30 each Sunday.

But the story of the new campus is more than just an outreach effort by the Carl Junction Christian Church.

The former university facility where the North Heights campus meets is now owned by Neighborhood life center. The nonprofit, which has roots in the restoration movement, offers Christ-centered after-school programs for students in the North Heights neighborhood.

For several years, Neighborhood Life House leaders hoped a church could meet on their property, said Addie Jarretdirector of the association.

“We knew if this was God’s plan, He would make it all happen,” she said.

Neighborhood Life House (NLH) opened in 2009 offering after-school programs for elementary students on the site, which Ozark Bible College used from 1944 until 1963, when it moved to its current location. (OBC changed its name to Ozark Christian College in 1985).

After the college moved in the 1960s, North Joplin Christian Church started on this site. After 45 years of ministry, the NJCC closed in 2008, but donated the facility to College Heights Christian Church be used for a new ministry. The Maison de Vie de Quartier was created to meet this need.

Today, the nonprofit serves middle and high school students in addition to elementary school children, Jarrett said. During the last school year, it served 196 students.

Its programming for the current school year is expected to begin after Labor Day.

“This neighborhood is known as one with a lot of high need,” Jarrett said. “We only serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Among other things, Neighborhood Life House offers after-school and small group Bible studies, as well as a “Daughters of the King” dance class and an “Imago Dei” art class.

Students participate in daily devotions. A meal is offered once a week, an especially important benefit for a neighborhood where 60% of residents are considered food insecure, Jarrett said.

All the activities of the Maison de Vie de Quartier are free. The programs are run by volunteers.

Jarrett said the idea of ​​a church to operate on campus has been a prayer of the NLH leadership team for several years.

Several families linked to Neighborhood Life House were not part of any church, but wanted to have one near their home, she said. And NLH leaders saw a church as something that could meet the needs of entire families — and another way for the nonprofit to share the gospel.

Jarrett said the question became, “God put this on our hearts and on the hearts of our neighbors. How can we get there?”

Enter the Christian Church at Carl Junction.

The Carl Junction Church was looking to branch out by launching another campus. It currently has an average Sunday attendance of around 300.

Jones, the senior minister, said the North Heights neighborhood is full of bigger, older homes. Many of them have been divided into apartments.

The neighborhood suffers from poverty and heavy drug use, Jones said.

Having a church in the neighborhood, he said, is something many families need because they only have one car which is often already in use on Sundays – or they don’t have no car at all.

“If they can’t walk there, they can’t walk there,” he said.


Eric Wassonstudent pastor at Carl Junction Christian Church, leads the North Heights campus.

Wasson, who lives in the North Heights neighborhood, said several families joined the new campus from the neighborhood. But he said the start of the campus has been slow.

People in the neighborhood, he says, can be a little “capricious” about new things. They are probably waiting to see if the new church will hold up before trying it.

The church meets in the NLH Chapel and features live worship music every Sunday. The sermon is delivered via video from Carl Junction, which is a 10-12 minute drive away.

Jones said the church invests in Neighborhood Life House after-school programming. This work will replace much of the children and youth programming that a normal church campus would provide.

The church, he said, does not want to “reinvent what has worked well.”

Jarrett of Neighborhood Life House said she expects church attendance to resume once the nonprofit’s school year programming begins in September.

She said the home is a comfortable place for many families who access her programs, and she expects the church’s Sunday services to benefit.

“It’s already like home for them,” she said.

Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.

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