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Crossroads modernizes what it means to serve

Over the past 30 years, the number of college students who do not identify with an organized religion has tripled from 10 to 31 percent.

However, Crossroads Church, a nondenominational Christian-based religious organization, has become the third largest growing church in the U.S., according to Outside Magazine.

The national organization's Oxford location, Crossroads Oxford, brings Miami University students and Ohio residents together by modernizing what it means to serve.

Crossroads Oxford's Community Pastor Lisa Kuhn established the Oxford location in 2015 and has helped attract young people by helping to develop Crossroads Anywhere, a digital platform where Crossroads content can be streamed. Anyone can watch Crossroads Anywhere, regardless of whether they are a part of a Crossroads chapter or have no connection to the group at all.

The original Crossroads Church was founded in 1995 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and now the organization has 20 locations spread throughout Ohio and Kentucky.

Kuhn, a Miami alumna, began the Crossroads Oxford location with her husband, Artie Kuhn, in 2015.

Lisa moved to Oxford in June 2014 when Artie took a job as an interactive media studies professor at Miami. During this time, the couple attended Crossroads events every week in Cincinnati while also running a branch of Young Life College (YLC) at Miami - another college service group.

"We started to not really be happy with the choice of churches around here, not because they aren't good choices, it's just they weren't what we were looking for," Lisa said. "We had been going to Crossroads for fifteen years at that point, so we were looking for a church that we could bring our non-Christian friends that didn't speak in a language that alienated anybody."

Due to the limitations of YLC's growth and the distance the Kuhns had to travel every week, they decided to start their own Crossroads location in their Oxford home in August 2015.

Within a year, Crossroads involvement in the Oxford community grew, leading the Kuhn's to inquire at Miami about starting an on-campus student organization.

"If we are a little piece of the kingdom of heaven -- that is what the church should be like -- we should be so different than anything else around," Kuhn said. "We should totally act and be different than what is expected."

Alyssa Brooks, a sophomore interactive media studies major, is a Kids Club Creative Intern and volunteer at Crossroads Church. Brooks hopes to reshape what service can look like in the Oxford community.

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Brooks interns through Crossroads Church national, creating faith-related episodes for young children. People can watch Crossroads events live through their website, and can also view past Crossroad's events via video-sharing websites, such as Youtube and Twitter.

"Something that I love about Crossroads Oxford is that we really, really try to change the culture around what it means to give," Brooks said.

Crossroads' Kids Club, the church's youth group, uses episodes created by Brooks and six other full-time Crossroads Kids Club workers are responsible for producing media content that simplify biblical stories and messages in ways that children can comprehend.

During Super Bowl Sunday, the Crossroads' Kids Club debuted an episode with multiple segments that described how Jesus is more powerful than anything - even professional football players.

In the episode, a trainer walks through a packed gym while people work out in the background, Brooks said. The trainer shouts, "Jesus is more powerful than all of this, Jesus is super powerful."

At press time, the video has 637 views on Youtube.

"A large chunk of our congregation, I guess you could call it -- the people who would say Crossroads is their home church -- are people who have only streamed," Brooks said. "While their parents stream [Crossroads' sermons] from their own home or from a coffee shop [the kids] can also have that same church experience."

Crossroads did not initially establish itself as an online content producer. However, when the church noticed a large demand for digital content, they hired people like Brooks to create, edit and market content from the pre- to post-production phase.

"On average, churches are probably behind and slower to catch up and be a part of what is going on," Kuhn said. "Crossroads values [digital technology]."

Kuhn says Crossroads tries to emulate their mission statement by taking the church toward an accessible, online-first path.

'We will always have the brick and mortar, because you can be around people," Kuhn said. "Community is important, but we think that digital drives into community."