Non-Traditional Churches – A Design For The Future


Volunteers at Reunion Church prepare food for distribution to Chicagoland homeless. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

Editor’s Note: eNews Park Forest photographer Wendy Heise begins a photo spotlight on places of worship in the Park Forest and surrounding areas with her church, Reunion Church of Frankfort, IL. Photographs by Wendy Heise, story by church member Dawn Thrasher.

Frankfort, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Have you ever gone to church and just didn’t feel like you belonged? It wasn’t a matter of faith – you have faith. It wasn’t the people; they seem nice enough. It wasn’t the drive . . .or the music. It wasn’t even the sermon. It was you. You felt alone. You checked the church bulletin to see what programs were available for members. You frequented the coffee bar. You’d try to find that crack in the foundation that permits members to inch out a space for themselves; to become one of them — to belong.


What if you showed up at church one day and the minister said, “There are cards for each of you to fill out, and what we’d like you to do is write down suggestions for the types of programs you’d like to see here at our church.” Then you hear the minister say. . .”Oh yeah, and if you make a suggestion, you need to be prepared to serve as the idea’s sponsor, with the intent of getting the idea up and running, on a trial basis, within the next three months.” Some might think that was a “put up, or shut up” type approach, but it recently happened at a church in Frankfort, IL and for quite a different reason.

Welcome to Reunion Church of Frankfort, IL. Reunion is a non-traditional, non-denominational, Bible-based Christian church. Their unofficial motto is “Reunion is the church for people who don’t like going to church.” Reunion is led by Pastor Chuck Anderson.


Volunteers make sandwiches for PADS. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

Anderson knows there’s more to church than the sermons. And, while church is intended to deliver God’s message, the strength of a church remains in its people. Chuck knows that different people have different needs, and he’s modest enough to know that he doesn’t have all the answers – he doesn’t even know all the questions. Instead, he wants Reunion’s members to be the architects of Reunion; to build the programs that will fulfill the needs and wants of its members.


From that simple request for “what do you want”, Reunion received suggestions for just under 20 different programs ranging from a Dinner and a Movie Group, a Service Group, a Women’s Bible Study Group, and a Music Ministry Group, just to name a few. Several of the groups have already taken flight. The Women’s Bible Study just launched a 12-week study Holy Habits a Woman’s Guide to Intentional Living, by Mimi Wilson and Shelly Cook Volkhardt. The Service Group compiled a list of service projects ranging from feeding the homeless, to pregnancy assistance, to a trip this summer to Mississippi for Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts, to lawn care and gutter cleaning for the elderly.

The kick-off project for the Service Group was Sunday, March 9th and the members gathered to make sack lunches for the homeless, supplying just under 200 sack lunches to three South Suburban PADS facilities (Hazel Crest, Olympia Fields and Flossmoor) and to the Salvation Army for distribution to Chicagoland homeless.


PADS is an overnight emergency shelter and one of the largest homeless shelters in Illinois, serving 150+ men, women and children each night. Each overnight emergency shelter is run by an area congregation that brings all the necessary food and provides volunteers from before the shelter opens at 7:00 p.m. until it closes at 7:00 a.m.