You won't see the steeple, and the pulpit doubles as a concert stage. Matter-of-fact, the church is inside a warehouse. There is no membership, and that suits the Rev. Mark Minnick just fine.
Welcome to Come2Go Ministries and C2G Music Hall.
Come2Go first opened as a music hall Feb. 3, 2003, as Minnick's intention always was to have a coffeehouse-style ministry.
“I always wanted a music ministry,” he said. “Music cuts through all the stuff. That's the theory coming in, and that's the theory still.”
Minnick's story is as unique as the ministry he began 10 years ago.
A 1974 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, he instead became a businessman for 22 years, providing for his wife, Alice, and their four children. While Minnick attended Trinity English Lutheran Church, the Rev. Richard G. Frazier challenged Minnick to enter the ministry. Minnick then enrolled at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he graduated in 2000.
“I took time to discern,” he said. “I didn't want a traditional model.”
He eventually found the warehouse, which is attached to Baker Street Office Furnishings and set up his ministry, based on the Bible verses John 1:43-50, which talk about Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael (Bartholomew) as apostles.
In 2006, musicians and volunteers wanted to start a ministry to offer spiritual assistance, he said.
“When we first gathered, we had 10 people and a guitar.” Sunday attendance now averages 120-150 people and features a full band.
“A lot of the volunteers cross over,” he said of the two ministries which recently became separate nonprofits. The music hall hosts about 55-80 secular concerts yearly. Church ministries try to serve area homeless, nursing home residents and troubled youth.
Going out to help
Volunteers form Go Teams to serve God. Minnick said there is no hierarchy. He views himself as a navigator instead of the captain. “I help connect people,” he said.
Volunteers supply blankets and clothing to the homeless, while local musicians have ministered the last nine years to the youth at the Allen County Juvenile Center. About 30 youth weekly experience music, a Bible lesson, discussion time regarding life goals, spiritual time and prayer.
“We have a different mix of people. We continue to have a bigger impact overall on Fort Wayne through volunteers. I think it's great we're under the radar.”
Minnick said each concert requires 15-30 volunteers to take tickets, offer concessions and work lighting and staging for the music hall, which seats 430 people.
A recent concert, such as December's Christmas concert featuring five local and diverse bands, brought in about 500 people and 500 pounds of canned goods for Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, he said. Kat Bowser's Janis Joplin tribute concert Jan. 19 also attracted about 500 people.
Minnick said the music hall's volunteers also produce a live music television show, “C2G Live,” at 1 p.m. Sunday on NBC, including live footage from prior concerts.
“It's great to be outside the box.”
As Minnick, 60, plans for his future retirement, he has hired the Rev. Brian Spahr, an ordained minister and a musician, as associate pastor, beginning Feb. 10. The interview process was different than most callings, as Spahr also had to perform musically at one of the music events before he was offered the job.
“It would be irresponsible of me not to have a transition plan.”
Minnick also employs two part-time workers for clerical and housekeeping duties.
“I'm glad God took me along for the ride,” he said. “God's meeting goals. I've always been surrounded by talented people here. There were rough times, but it's better going forward.”