God is calling Threads Church to grow as a family of "Love God, love others" Christ followers.
In 1999, God called a group of people together for the first worship gathering of what would become Threads Church. The leaders were motivated by the fact that 95% of individuals in Kalamazoo between the ages of 18 and 35 had no meaningful connection with a community following Jesus. God gave them a vision to start a church where people from this demographic could find a place to belong and to connect with God. The vision was to see people who were disconnected from God and the church become ‘love God, love others’ Christ followers. From its earliest days, Threads has been a place where people could hear the good news about Jesus in compelling language, engage God in tangible ways, and make connections to their everyday lives. Threads has always desired to welcome people to come as they are to encounter God and find community within a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Historically, Threads Church was situated within the evangelical movement, as a non-denominational, Bible-believing church that has emphasized relationship with Jesus and personal discipleship. While seated within the landscape of non-denominational evangelicalism, the people of Threads began, in the 2010s, to examine the tradition of hierarchical gender roles out of which it was born. After a season of examination and discernment, the leadership determined that Threads was being called to grow in its understanding of the gifting and roles within the church. While knowing that this shift would be a sharp growth edge for some of the people of Threads, the leadership determined that growing in the direction God was calling meant Threads would be a body within which a person’s gender would not be a barrier to serving in any role within the body. God’s leading also compelled Threads to identify a particular place where we could have a tangible, long-term impact as we join Jesus in the work of God’s Kingdom. Through a time of active discernment, interviewing community leaders and taking note of our own church community’s gifts, skills and passions, God identified the Milwood neighborhood in Kalamazoo as an under-resourced neighborhood that God had equipped and called us to engage. In 2014 Threads moved from its location in Portage to its current location in Milwood. In the context of a country torn apart by division, many within Threads began to imagine growth into a fuller expression of our calling to be “love God, love others” Christ followers that not only welcomes all, but celebrates people in all the diversity God has created. Just prior to the world being gripped by a global pandemic in 2020 leaders within Threads –along with many others in the evangelical community– had grown to recognize patterns of belief and practice that have harmed marginalized communities, including the LGBTQIA+ community. God called many of us at Threads into a journey of listening, repenting, and reshaping our understanding of the church’s call in relation to the LGBTQIA+ community. The leaders of Threads began asking questions around its call to growth in its pursuit of the way of Jesus. Many began to experience a call to “love others” in a more profound and inclusive way. Even as we have continued to grow in our recognition of God’s work in our lives through Scripture, we have also grown in our understanding of the cultural context of the writers of Scripture, as well as the interpretive choices of Bible translators through the ages, that have led to harmful attitudes toward LGBTQIA+ people. As we have continued to be personally healed and built up by the compassionate welcome of Jesus, we have been led to participate in God’s welcome by fully celebrating and affirming our LGBTQIA+ siblings in Christ. We have grown in our recognition that the creativity, mystery, and welcome of God are more vast and beautiful than we could ever comprehend, and we repent of ways we have tried to box God in to fit within our own comfort zones. In 2022, after much learning and discernment, the leadership of Threads recognized an opportunity to embrace its original call as a place of belonging that would include all people, in all their diversity, in any role within the church body, weaving their lives together as God’s church. Moving forward, Threads Church continues to learn that while the original call to be a place of belonging for those who feel disconnected from God and God’s church to experience a “love God, love others” way of life may not have changed, it continues to challenge each of us in new ways as we continue to grow toward Jesus and one another. In light of these significant changes within the DNA of Threads Church, we recognize that we now might best be described as “Post-Evangelical”: we seek to retain the best of our evangelical roots–love for Jesus, a desire to grow in discipleship, and a high regard for Scripture–and yet we feel the need to distance ourselves from some of the baggage of the evangelical movement,particularly its lack of inclusivity and welcome to the LGBTQIA+ community, its history of patriarchal authoritarianism, its frequent complicity with racism, its recent embrace of nationalism, and its tendency to interpret the Bible in a rigid, decontextualized way.