It’s a Big Church & Even Bigger Kingdom

There is a story that needs to be told. It is about a church in Ephrata. A church right near the intersection of 322 and 222, and no, it is not LCBC. The church is Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church, right across the street from LCBC Ephrata.

Nearly two years ago, LCBC realized the property we were looking to purchase for the Ephrata campus would require road improvements. The main road into the new campus, Hahnstown Road, would need to be widened to accommodate a new left turn lane for our traffic. This project required land from both LCBC’s future property AND the property of the Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church. Several large old maple trees would need to be removed from the church’s historical property to make the turning lane a reality. This church has been there for over 200 years and frankly, we (LCBC) were not sure what type of reaction we would get.

As we approached the Bergstrasse leadership about this road decision, we found out that their whole congregation would need to vote on the changes. A “no” vote on the turning lane by the members would make it more difficult for LCBC to build a church at this location. LCBC met with the church to discuss future plans. Two weeks later, the chairman of the Bergstrasse Church board stood up and told the congregation about LCBC and how LCBC is reaching people that they are not. The members took the vote and later we received a stunning phone call. The result of the vote was a unanimous “yes” to the turning lane!

There are some at Bergstrasse that have been teaching Sunday School longer than most of us at LCBC have been alive, and for them change might not come easy. This church does not play loud music, or have flashing lights, but this church has the same mindset that others matter and that more lives can be changed by Christ.

Each time I drive up to LCBC Ephrata, I see the widened road and the missing trees across the street and I say thank you to God for the people in that church. They were willing to sacrifice because they also want to introduce others to Jesus. There are many great churches in the Ephrata area and Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church is definitely one of them. LCBC is not coming to Ephrata to pull people from Bergrstrasse Lutheran, or any other church for that matter. We are coming to Ephrata to connect the unconnected so more can be introduced to Jesus.

If you get a chance, send a note to the people at Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church at 9 Hahnstown Road, Ephrata, PA 17522. Thank them for having a kingdom mindset, loving God and others and how we are excited to partner with them in the Ephrata community.

About Matt Graybill

Matt is the Ephrata Campus Pastor at LCBC Church. He's the husband to Beth and the father to two sons. On the side Matt is the Chaplain for the Hershey Bears and is a die hard Philly Sports Fan.
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  • Tyketto

    Some churches unfortunately have a mindset that they are “competing” against others, or worse, that only their approach is the right way. We are all one body under Christ, even if we don’t agree on the small stuff on how to “do church.” How wonderful to see LCBC’s new neighbors share the mission of reaching people who need to be reached! LCBC is not a competitor, it just does things differently to reach different people. I always say “If that church works for you and you connect with God there, then great! If it doesn’t, give my church a try and see if it works. And if it doesn’t, go try another. What matters is that it works for you and that God is reaching you through it.” 

  • Coasterkim

    What a great story.  I just sent Bergstrasse an email thanking them for their sacrifice and cooperation.

    • Mattgraybill

       Thanks for doing that- greatly appreciated!

    • Ccmarie3203

      I just did as well

  • Ink_smk

     That is all we need is another big ass church sucking money out of the community. They say that they are nonprofit but how can that be when we see the churches growing and the community suffering. Ive seen this happen down south in a small community where people were brain washed into giving most of there income to the church. Business were shutting down houses were getting boarded up while churches were getting bigger and more illustrious. I say we have enough churches they have become what they were not meant to be BIG BUSINESS! I think every one knows who Jesus is by now I don’t think we need another community killing business to tell us who he is. This has been a realistic rant from Joe Joseph Mastle

    • Iquilt

      Do you really believe that every one knows who Jesus is by now?  People may know who he is, but not everybody “knows” him. 

      • TJ

        You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19

    • annoynomis

      Life is not about money, but about serving others.  If LCBC (Lives changed by Christ) truley reaches people through their churches, then it is totally worth it.  You don’t have to give your money to be able to go church.  You can do what you feel led to do. Giving money is not a requirement to get to heaven.  Everybody is allowed their opinions.  I invite you to come to one of the services first and then cast your opinion.  All people are welcome! 

      • Slmcwd1234

        All you need to do is come and make yourself at home and you will find out for yourself!!

      • Ink_smk

         Well unfortunately life is about money no matter how you look at it. In church you are not led by God or Christ to give you are led or guilted  in to giving up your money not to help others but to build anther church or build on. so as long as the church reaches out to people to serve God its OK for the sick and the hungry to suffer. You don’t need to have a huge church to serve. The Amish don’t and they seem to be doing just fine. I’m not bashing Christianity I am very against the big churches that take advantage of peoples faith to make a profit. Think about that the next time they pass the plate around three times in one serves. Sell the church feed the hungry!

        • annoynomis

          LCBC has many outreaches and many community services that they participate in.  Unfortunatley they can’t control the sick and hungry, but they do everything they can to help out.  The money might go towards building a new church or for the upkeep of one already built.  Churches have operating costs just like our homes do.  LCBC purpose is to reach the unbelievers, not to cater to the saved but the unsaved because they care for them also.  If you haven’t been to LCBC before, please come.  You are always warmly welcomed to come.

        • cindy

          When have we ever passed the offering plate 3 times?Maybe you have never even attended a service. Come out some weekend and try Jesus.Come on and give it a try.

        • Debbie Zimmerman Lynch

          Joey, give Jesus a chance in your life. your mom has. I know that you have had some rough times. But God love you very much and your mom prays for you. big churches do not take money from people. people who are christians do what the Bible recommends and they give their tithe. I know that by tithing God meet our needs. it has happened tome time and time again.

        • Giggles

          I once believed simalr to you; then I was brought closer to God from attending LCBC services on a regular basis. One sermon was based on using money responsibily. Pastor Dave suggested we give 10% to God, 10% to savings and live on 80%. This I always knew. However, the church I used to go to gave members an envelope for each week of the coming year. So giving or not giving was shown by the church recieving ‘your’ envelope. Pastor Dave never suggested we use envelpoes and they did not keep checking on who gave or did not give. He simply said that by following the 10-10-80 program  demonstrated my belief that God will take care of me. I am a happy giver and so is God!

        • Tyketto

          You make so many assumptions about how people serve in a church you make  my head spin. I invite you to attend ONE LCBC service and learn what the church is about and how it does thing before going off half-cocked with zero facts. So you sell the church and feed the hungry for what? A month? How does THAT make sense? OR you develop a strong, active group of believers who SERVE. I’m sure there’s a story behind your bitterness… but I ask you to come join us just once. Learn about the place before attacking it. You might be surprised… 

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It would be a grave misfortune if we miss the needs in the community. While people give of their time, talents, and resources it is our hope that they would bless the local community and the world. Would love for you to join us to start making a difference in the community and the world on September 9th and feel the freedom to not give.

    • mandyjane

      Joe, please consider reading this… It’s not a rant AT you… just some realism… I promise…

      I understand that it upsets you that there are big churches.  Hey… for all that matter… there
      are big corporations, big mansions and even big
      supermarkets.  But if a congregation is full of thousands of people,
      that’s what it takes… simply that… a bigger place to put those
      people.  And if those people live in different areas… it would only make sense to reach out to those people by building a campus that’s a little bit closer to home.

      It is important that you understand that LCBC’s funds DO NOT go
      only to the building and upkeep of our churches, it goes towards LOTS
      of community outreaches… domestically AND internationally.  In fact, I
      was just telling my husband yesterday how impressed I am that LCBC is
      still able to do that even with the building and upkeep of our new campuses.

      So remember… a church is NOT a building, a church is a body of people
      that are dedicated to showing others the love of Jesus Christ – MUCH
      like that of a small church’s mission as well.  Hey, that’s how we even started out… just a couple people with a dream and some love.  Remember… the size of
      our BUILDINGS is not what matters… it’s the LOVE we have towards
      others and the LOVE we have for Jesus that is MOST important.  …LCBC
      taught me that!  If you ever want to come and find out for yourself…
      let us know!  We’d be more that happy to show you around if you’d just give us a chance!  ~Mandy

    • Blcdogs

      Joe,  Don’t wait until Sept.  Come to Manheim, take a seat, don’t put money in the plate, don’t talk to anyone if you don’t want to.  Just sit and listen.  I was in the same place you are now, not so long ago.   Now I wouldn’t be anyplace else but in one of those seats, and I love it.  If you don’t like the bigger churches then I can assure you the Bergstrasse Evengelical Luthern Church would like to have you as a visitor.  Just sit in their seats and see if it makes a difference in your life.  You will know how fortunate you are.

    • Dlerb

      I encourage you to visit LCBC….but please, don’t give any money.  Just visit, watch and listen.  Wave to the men and women who help you find a parking space, give a smile to the greeters holding the door open for you and maybe a mom with a small child that has her hands full. Smell the fresh coffee and pastries ready for you and anyone else who didn’t have time for breakfast.  If you have kids, say hello to the one out of hundreds of volunteers who give their time each and every week (not because they are paid, not because they feel obligated or feel they are forced to), but because they love helping children learn about Jesus and His love for all of us. Pay attention to the casual atmosphere meant to make ALL feel welcome, no matter their background, work status, how they dress, etc. Hear the sounds of chatter among the small children, teenagers and adults (both young and old) gathering in the cafe, atrium or student ministry areas, and the variety of music being played.  No rules, no regulations….just biblical teaching about loving God and loving others.  And depending on when you visit, you may hear about the many individuals, families….both young and old, near and far who are touched by the generosity of those who call LCBC home. Different ministries help the widowed, those suffering from divorce, engaged couples and newly married who have questions and the desire to have a successful marriage, at Christmastime….the hallways at LCBC are packed full of gifts donated to give to local families in need, women’s shelter’s, individual’s and kids with diseases.  Volunteers meet with unemployed helping them to find jobs.  Small Groups meet weekly to enourage each other and reach out to those in need in the community.  Missions groups travel to other countries building drinking wells, schools and helping in orphanages.  All because of the love of Christ!  So please come….don’t give anything. The reason we’re continuing to open up new campuses is because we run out of room and want to continue reaching out to others, it’s definitely not to make money!

    • A friend

       Joe, God loves you…

    • Tyketto

      There is so much ignorance in this comment I can’t see straight. I’d suggest you research more before making such sweeping statements. You think everyone knows who Jesus is, and yet you’d be wrong. Why so bitter, bro? 

    • jtwl

       Please visit our church and don’t give a dime. We don’t care about your money we care about you.

  • Lukenanny

    I appreciate your blog on this, but it sounds, to me, that you feel as if other churches would not embrace another church coming in. I may be reading too much into it, but I don’t feel that would be the case.

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks for writing, but unfortunately I have talked with some churches that are not supportive and that is sad. But there are churches like Bergstrasse who have been very welcoming.

  • Joyce Courtney

    Great, positive story, Matt.  I’d be cool if LCBC would plant a whole new row of Maple trees for the Bergstrasse Church, in honor of their loving spirit and for their future generations to enjoy.  :-)

    • Matt Graybill

       Great suggestion- it is already in the works.

      • Leslie Bourassa

        Awesome on planting the trees and I love Bergstrasse’s spirit.  I grew up Lutheran, but now come to LCBC, I was curious as to what Bergstrasse’s congregation felt about LCBC building a Church across the street from them and now I know.  Thanks for your blog Matt.

      • Jeff

        Tell me when and where and I will be there

  • cindy

    Wonderful story Matt. I wasn’t sure what the Lutheran church next to us in Ephrata was going to think. Sounds like they get it. If we are reaching non-churched people, go for it. Really, we as christians are all on the same team, team JESUS. Love it!

  • Rick Glass

    That’s awesome Matt!
    Big “C” Church making a difference because of the little “c” churches together!

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks Rick!

  • Falconford

    You know after reading all of these comments, I came to realized that God is working right here.  If you are so against us building a new Church, a home for God to continue to open lives for him to purify and to show how much he has always loved, care, and walked with us no matter what we have done.  You(Joe) needs to take one hours and 15 min to see just how much God loves you!  If you feel so bad about having to give money well I guess God is trying to tell you its time to help one another.  I have been with out a job for over a year and I have had so much help, love, caring from people of this Church because God has lead them to me to help.  So if you think it all about money, YOU are wrong its about doing life for others. I am so proud to be a member, and a part of LCBC because God has change my life!!!   

  • Cshupp


    Thank you so much for sharing this.  I am an elder at a church that has been honoring Christ since 1749 (and sometimes NOT honoring Him) and I actually had tears in my eyes as your comments were shared.  I know the folks at Bergstrasse and they are just like the rest of us (good and bad) ….but they know love for the Lord when they see it.  Yes, the sacrifice  may only have been trees, but the SPIRITUAL UNITY IN THE BODY CANNOT BE UNDERSTATED…

    God bless you my guys will do great things…(just like Bergstrasse!)

    Chuck Shupp….Swamp Christian Fellowship.

    • Matt Graybill

       Chuck- thanks so much. Excited to serve together! Thanks for your prayers.

  • jkwec

    I live in Ephrata & I am part of a church in Ephrata.  I am deeply touched by part of this story, the part where 2 churches worked together without there being a sense of competition and instead working as one body.  There is also part of this story that makes me very uncomfortable.

    have to admit, I was horrified when I saw that the trees were cut down.
    I’m also sad that they had to demolish the old Bergstrasse school. My
    sister, who attends LCBC, said they wanted to save the school & use
    it, but it was too costly …to
    remove the absestos that was present. I still can’t wrap my mind
    around it being cheaper to demolish a building and build a whole new one
    as opposed to cleaning up the old one. Anyway, I’m sure LCBC
    reaches people. But, are they reaching the unchurched or are they
    reaching those people who are inclined to play musical churches? I
    don’t want to sound so negative, but I have a really hard time with
    really big churches. Couldn’t we take the money we use to constantly
    build new churches & use that to help the needy? There are plenty
    of folks in poverty here and in other countries. And, somehow, I don’t
    think Jesus is all that concerned with our comfort while we worship, but
    I know he’s concerned that we feed and clothe those in need.Yes.  I know big churches make contributions to the community and to the needy.  But, if we put the same effort & determination & money into serving as we did into creating buildings (because true growth is not the same as new buildings) I think people would look at the church in an entirely different way. 

    • MBDWC

      I wish folks wouldn’t get focused on the size of a church, but rather on the heart of the church.  If you’d think of the church as a body of people who are changed by the living Christ, then each one of those people would be led to change their community, their nation, and even the world.  It happens one life at a time.  Although churches do a great job at helping with the poor and needy, it is really the individuals of these churches that have the greatest impact. See a need?  Take care of that need!  Don’t wait for the corporate church to do that for you.  Don’t get focused on building size or church size — be excited that there are places small and large for people to congregate and hear what God says about living as His people; people who will go out into the world and share the good news of the Gospel and people who will share their resources with the people of this world. 

      • jkwec

        I agree wholeheartedly with you on the point that making an impact in our world starts at an individual level.  Yes!  When we see a need among us, Jesus calls us as individuals to act. 

        I also believe the church needs to set that example.  And, the problem I have with big churches is not the size itself but the sheer amount of money it takes to build them, maintain them.  And, let’s face it, the church has decided that to ‘stay relevant’ it needs to pour massive amounts of money into appearance of the church & technology.  I’m not saying that any of that in an of itself it wrong – but when it’s done at the expense of serving others – that’s where the problem comes in.

        When a church announces that, in the name of church growth, they are launching a building fund folks clamor to make pledges, find sacrifices to make to increase their contributions, etc.  When a visiting missionary comes and a love offering is taken…is there that same enthusiasm? 

        The cost of widening the road….actually the cost of paying to have the trees taken down alone….could do how much for a church in a 3rd world country?  The cost of putting in a cafe could do how much to support ministries that reach the poor in our area.

        How long can we justify the way we spend our money as a church when our brothers and sisters in other countries continue to suffer?

        I don’t know.  I feel like I’m in the minority.  But, I think the church in America has gotten very fat, very self serving, and very entitled.  Please take that last comment with a grain of salt.  I know many, many people who go to LCBC and are blessed & have experienced great spiritual growth. And, I admit I’ve only been there once many, many years ago.  I can’t speak to the motivation and the hearts of those who lead this particular church. I guess I’m speaking more in generalities.

        • RES

          What you don’t seem to understand is that its not only the poor and starving that are in need.  Many of the people in our communities who are not necessarily poor or starving are in deep spiritual need, and this church is geared towards helping those folks through community fellowship and through the scriptures. 

          I am from a 3rd world country, and I can assure you there is just as much need in this country as there is in the 3rd world – it’s just a different need.

          Stop focusing on the money and celebrate the fact that because of LCBC’s outreach, many folks lives have been significantly changed for the better.  I suggest you come to one of the LCBC baptism services, where you will hear amazing testimonies from people whose lives have been changed as a result of attending LCBC.  

          • jkwec

            After I walked away from this discussion for a bit, I really started to feel convicted about the tone that I had taken as I expressed my opinion.  The original point of this whole post/article was the beauty of God’s body working together instead of taking a spirit of divisiveness.  And, that’s exactly the tone I used in my comments…one of division.  I know the enemy is happy anytime he can cause division among the Body of believers and I fell right into the trap.

            I apologize to any brothers or sisters I may have offended.  We all need to listen to the Spirit as He calls us to respond to His leading.  LCBC is heeding to call to reach spiritual needs in the community that may be otherwise unmet.  And, if I feel a burden for sacrificial giving then perhaps that is an area the Spirit is trying to point out in my own life… not for me to point fingers.

            I pray that God’s blessing would be on this new church plant and may His Kingdom be greatly advanced. 

          • Adam Hann

            jkwec, thanks for this reply. I appreciate your honesty and heart in the whole matter. Thanks for contributing to the conversation! 

        • Cancunmusic

          I absolutely agree with you. As a Christian, I feel as though one shouldn’t need coffee shoppes, gymnasiums, breakfasts, concert like worship services and big fancy buildings to draw people in, to worship God. I sincerely feel that some of those “unchurched” people are being drawn in and attending for the wrong reasons. Are they really feeling the Holy Spirit or going to have a good time and socialize? (Not that there is anything the matter with socializing). At the same time, I don’t question the true believers who attend and I pray for those who aren’t. 

          When everything else in this world is becoming more lax the one place I don’t think should be is church. I was taught to give of your best to the Lord and to be respectful, prayerful, meditative and worshipful in his house. I don’t believe in “anything goes” and in “as long as you’re there,” it doesn’t matter how you look. It’s how you are there – with respect for yourself, others, and God’s house and, in body, mind and spirit.

          By the way, if anyone wants to help the needy in Ephrata, Ephrata Area Social Services are in constant need of support. The local churches help through giving in various ways including having grocery carts for food collections which are donated on a regular basis. And there are monthly community meals provided by the small Ephrata churches. These churches that have been here for decades and centuries have long been serving both here and abroad. 


          • Schouten

            I believe it’s important that people who don’t know or understand who Christ is go to my church. I want them to come in just as they are and be Loved. Maybe for the 1st time in their life they will hear the life changing story of Christ’s love for us. It’s important to me that I can invite my friends, coworkers and family to a place where they are communicated to the same way they are communicated to everyday. My church isn’t for everyone and that’s ok.

    • Nancy

          I know people who left their churches to go to LCBC for the entertainment, not because threy were not churched. SAD!!

      • Blcdogs

        There has to be somthing that makes people want to attend whatever church you go to.  It was the music for me.  But, wow, have I learned and been changed by my whole experience.  After 5 years there my life has improved so much more by the stories from the Bible and stories from other people that attend LCBC.  Yes, their music is the best, but the learning is so much better.  I used to drive by there and say I wasn’t missing anything there, but I know now how much I really missed in life.

        • Sscd792

          If you can call extremely LOUD noise music. Went to one service and that was enough.

          • Tyketto

            What is your point? Everyone has a personal preference. If it wasn’t for you, OK. Why the hate? Go where you go and worship Christ that way. What’s the big deal? 

      • Tyketto

        Worship styles differ. What makes one better than another? Personal preference. I’m not sure your point. If you don’t like it, don’t go. Stay where you are and worship that way. But who are you to question someone else’s walk with God?

      • UnderGrace

         I left my church because I was not being taught the Word of God in a way I could understand.  LCBC is teaching me and I then become the “hands and feet of Christ” now able to help others with a right heart!

        • A friend


      • Jet58

        I have been going to LCBC since 07 and never felt entertained. But then with me its about praise, worship and talking to GOD!!  connecting and serving.  

  • Dlerb

    Just sealed the envelope of a thank you card to Bergstrausse…thanks for the awesome reminder of just how big the “kingdom community” is in the Ephrata area!

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks for letting them know!

  • hbdcare

    Thanks for sharing the story of Bergstrasse.  Note of thanks is ready for mailing.

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks for taking the time!

  • Ink_smk

    I said what I had to say and all any one realy got from what I said was what they wher tought to get. I’m sorry I just will not see things the way you all do. But yes I did grow up in church a very stuck up church. I also helped teach bible school well I was given free will to question what was being tought to me and others and I did not receive answers expt for blinde faith bull shit that just is not good enough for me and never will be. I have read the bible several times and I’m sorry if Jesus was here I highly dought that he would atend to many of the churchs that stand today. I think there is problem when a church spends $60K on a sign or $10 – $20K on single pue. When you read what I put on here try to read with an open clear realistic mind not the normal closed one track unquestioning mind. Some times the Devil will come to you in sheeps clothing and that’s what I feel most large expensive churchs have become. Thank you for the invite but I will have to decline

    • Tyketto

      So live with your bitterness…. but I’d guess God isn’t done with you yet. I pray you will try just one service at LCBC and see what a church working together for Christ can be like. It’s not blind faith… it’s not a begging for money church… it’s not everything you tried to make it seem WITHOUT EVER STEPPING IN THE DOOR. You choose to be uniformed and ignorant. Even with such an attitude and your “open mind” you are welcome with open arms at LCBC. You will be treated with respect. I suppose it’s easier to come on a blog and anonymously bash people….

  • Kelly Noll

    When does the new curch plan to open?

    • Matt Graybill

       September 9th we plan on opening with 9am and 11am gatherings.Hope to see you there!

  • Richie

    Big Churches. . . Joe, I think you and I would get along great.  I walked into LCBC very skeptical 8 years ago.  I was away from church for several years and was completely disconnected from God and was so turned off by what I knew as church.  I kind of liked the bigger church setting at LCBC though since I could just blend in.  On one of my 1st visits, I met a man that asked a hundred questions about where I lived, what I did for a living, etc.  I asked what he did, and he said he had a few chickens and cows and loved farming.  I later found out that his name was Noah Kreider from Kreider farms. . . an original member of LCBC and huge supporter over the years.  He has checked in on me occastionaly over the past 8 years and shown love simply by caring.  My life has been totally transformed over the past 8 years by God, and I thank him so much for LCBC.  No doubt people like Noah have given to needy people locally and around the world over the past 25 years, but through their support of local church (LCBC), buildings continue to be built to create environments for lives to be changed.  Here’s the most amazing part. . . now, rather than there being 40 people from Manheim giving money to their local community and the needy, there are 11,000 in Central Pennsylvania all looking out for their neighbors and those in need with a passion to see just one more life changed!  Richie

    • Nskreider

       Joe, I was just driving home and listening to a podcast by James Dobson. They were interviewing Josh McDowell (famous former agnostic) and he said the main reason that kids who grew up in the church end up leaving the church is EXACTLY what you said. If a kid asks why he should believe and you tell him to “just believe and have faith” they will walk away. They need to hear the truth! So sorry no one was willing to share the truth with you when you were younger. I think you should pursue and seek out the truth now, it’s not too late!! God will give it to you, I really believe! Don’t give up, and don’t stop asking questions just cause you’re grown!

    • Ink_smk

       I attended a small Free will Baptist church in SC. I enjoyed the atmosphere the people every thing about it. Then the church started to grow and that’s when things began to change the bigger it got the more the offering plate got passed around. The more plate was passed the more plans where made for growth. Hunger and greed start to take over. There is a lot of great people that go to church but the ones who run it can turn sour. They may go into it with all the right intentions but man is man and there are a lot of things in this world that can change a man. So no matter what any body says to try and convince me other wise will not work. Churches have become corrupt business and if people would take step back and take a hard look they will see it also. From the comments that people have posted to me I can tell they still don’t get what I am really saying. They take one little part and run with kinda like people do with the Bible. You are the only one that even came close. But it wasn’t the people I had a problem with in fact most of them where my family and friends.Its not the religion or the people it is the organization behind it that I have the problem with.

      • James Horning

         Hello Joe,
        It was the generosity of individuals and churches who allowed us all the great times at the Smokestown fire company. 20 years have now passed and we are still providing a safe haven for the children & teens of the Cocalico area thanks in part to the many individuals/businesses & churches who have invested selflessly in the ministry of Crossfire. Some churches are indeed off-tract…..but thank God for those that truly care about the community around them! James Horning

        • Ink_smk

           Jim, What you are doing for the children of the surrounding community s is unmeasurable and there is not a lot of people that could do what you do for these children. It is the off track churches that I am talking about. The ones that spend hundreds of thousands on unnecessary crap that they don’t need.

          • Matt Graybill

             Joe- shoot me an email at would love to grab some time to hear more of your story and just hear your questions.

          • Tyketto

            And this isn’t one of them… that’s the only thing we are trying to get to you…. You make good points, and important points dude… but you need to remove that chip for two seconds and hear what we are trying to tell you. It’s OK to have questions and be against big churches, etc. It’s OK to be wherever you are in your walk with God. We all have past baggage we deal with that shape our present. But I would challenge you to open your heart and mind to those here who are reaching out to you in a constructive way. Just listen to what they’re saying and not argue with them. 

    • Matt Graybill

      Richie- thanks for sharing.

  • Ehprata resident

    What about the house that no longer has a front yard due to this church! The old maple trees gave the area a country feel. Now it just looks like a big overpriced church got its way and moved across the street from an older established church. Would you have expected the Evangelical Lutheran Church to say no to another church? I can’t think of any church that would have said no and then been labeled unchristian. As I pass this new LCBC church everyday on my way home from work I feel sad at the loss of the beautiful countryside. There are other ways to reach people beside a big church. I never even heard of your church until you purchased the land. What have you done in Ephrata to make your presents known? Have you helped those in need in our area like many of the established churches do everyday?  What ever the future holds for you …good luck on your mission (Just for the record I am a church going person with strong beliefs so I don’t need any comments like posted below to give Jesus I chance. He is in my life everyday.)

    • Tyketto

      A lot of assumptions here…. if you never heard of LCBC, why not look into it before forming an opinion? You pretty much just told a group of people who share your love of Jesus that they’re not welcome in your town?  

  • Paul Kayrepine

    That is great….all the more that God is moving and He wants LCBC in that location…it is
    great the support that is there….Blessings

  • Kunkd0le

    Yes, thank you LCBC for tearing down more trees and building yet another church. If you want to reach people, take all of the coin you are spending on another castle and donate it instead.

    • Gary

      I totally get the resentment towards a church that spends a lot of money on all that other stuff.  You see so many needs around you and think to give it away would serve the Kingdom better.  That’s how I felt the first time I went to LCBC.  “I don’t need the lights flashing in my face to experience Jesus”, I thought.  Until one day, I looked deeper at the heart of the church and what there purpose and passion was.  I realized that the investment that is made in the buildings was getting an amazing return.  Yes, it costs a lot of money to build churches and pay staff.   That, you can see.  But what you don’t know and can’t see is that people who attend LCBC give millions upon millions to the needs in our local area and around the world. 

      We live in Lancaster County, and people who live here are not going to commit to give tons of money so somebody in Ephrata and York can be entertained. Nobody would do that.  We believe many, many people will have there life changed by Christ by attending LCBC.  We know that because each one us is a life that is constantly being changed by Christ!  We as a church family believe that if we stop caring for the people who are far from God that we will only care for ourselves.  Then we become a church that is trying to maintain.  There are enough of churches in our area that are using that “maintain” model. 

      I thank God everyday for a church that makes the hard decisions to keep the Kingdom first!  The easy thing to do would be just to keep status quo! 

      Love Ya!!

    • Tyketto

      Man… a lot of tree worshipers in Ephrata or something. 

  • BrokeninGethsemane

    “Well, I’m not that big of a fan of mega churches since I was in a global ministry. BUT I am a fan of more outreach to the area. There is too much religion & not enough Jesus mentality. I personally am a single Mother who has been going through a divorce for 3 years. I’ve been stripped of almost everything, from 2 of my 4 children to now having to sell my belongings to pay medical bills for my children. I know many churches around the area & found myself sifted into the shadows. Though I have nothing, not even a car, I always try to give, to love & to support anything that will care for the needy & broken. I am not connected anywhere right now because of the lack of support & religious rejection. If I had a way I would try to attend LCBC. I pray God’s favor manifests through this project in ways no man could imagine!”

    • Matt Graybill

       Wow- thanks so much in sharing your heart here. Appreciate your thoughts.

    • Jeff

       I would love to provide you transportation to attend any of the campus’ if needed. I am also willing to get you to other commitments if I possibly can. Your not alone. please write me at

  • BrokeninGethsemane

    I would’ve shared more here, but I don’t want to be recognized. after all..Lanc. co is quite small & everyone seems to know everyone some way or another. I am not from the area originally and have found it very difficult to fit in the local clicks because Im not related, not married into a lanc co family or because there arent many church clicks for single mothers.

  • jkwec

    I was going to bow out of this conversation completely.  I really, really was.  And, I meant what I said in my last comment about feeling badly about the critical tone in my earlier comments.  But, there’s another aspect of this comment thread that is making me uncomfortable and I feel I need to say something.  And, I hope to say this in as loving & non-confrontational a way as possible.

    There are a quite a few testaments here to the way people’s lives have changed when they started attending LCBC.  And, even though it’s in your tagline –  Lives Changed By Christ, there’s almost this sense that people feel their lives were changed by LCBC.

    I don’t want to quibble over semantics.  But, I think it’s such a fine line and can be so subtle.  Sometimes the vessel for God’s power can start to feel like they are more than just a vessel.  I’m not saying that’s what’s intended here, but it can be perceived that way.

    I just need to mention too that there ARE vibrant, Spirit filled churches in Ephrata that are making an impact on the community and acting as that vessel of the Spirit to help change lives.  I’m a part of one!  I don’t want there to be this idea that there is a huge void in Ephrata that only LCBC can fill..  And, once again that was just the sentiment that came across to me.

    I would just like to end this with a question for whoever would like to answer it.  Can someone tell me a little about the vision of LCBC and how they see that playing a role in Ephrata?  What led the leadership of LCBC to consider the need for a church plant in Ephrata?  What are your goals?

    And, I want to say that I DO believe there is room for us all.  I look forward to seeing how our churches can work together.  It truly is a BIG kingdom. 

    • Matt Graybill

       Sure would love to meet with you to talk about it. It would be too much to write and better through a personal conversation. Shoot me an email so we could set up a time to talk: By the way I love your statement, “I just need to mention too that there ARE vibrant, Spirit filled
      churches in Ephrata that are making an impact on the community and
      acting as that vessel of the Spirit to help change lives.  I’m a part of
      one!” We don’t deny that at all and love what those churches are doing!

    • Tyketto

      I think you’re getting caught up in semantics… honestly. I probably come across the same way talking about my church (LCBC). But it’s because I experience God there and through the connections I’ve made there. Of course I know Christ has changed me… but it was through LCBC he did that. I attended other churches… this is the first to really lead me to a RELATIONSHIP with God. I hope you reached out to Matt Graybill and learned more of the church’s approach and mission. 

  • Rjca

    I’m someone who was raised in the church, but walked away a number of years ago for a variety of reasons.  When I see the comments about the church helping others in need vs. building facilities, etc…my first thought is in regards to those IN the church who are in need.  I’ve seen so many families and individuals who are committed members of churches & who, for years, give money to the church when they can barely put food on thier own table. How does the church (leadership & church body) justify spending millions on buildings & all the latest dressing with money taken from people who need to keep it & provide for thier family? Comments are welcome but please don’t give me the ‘sunday school’ answers.  I have a degree in pastoral leadership so I’ve heard those already. If you cant back it up with scripture, don’t say it!

  • Duhsciple

    I hope the two churches can learn from one another, too.
    And pray for one another
    And see the Face of God in the Other
    Hey, why not see Christ’s Face all around, even in the one’s formerly known as “lost”

  • Tess

    It’s a Big Church & Even Bigger Kingdom!  Love it Matt!  Awesome!

  • Blc1025

    I just sent the Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church an email thanking them also.  Very gracious of them to do this for our new church.

  • Pryce

    For those on the go and wishing to send a thanks, the above is the email address listed on their website.

  • DebS

    I’ll write an old-fashioned note and mail a thanks. Getting out my box of cards now.

  • Ben Donahower

    Great to see such a collaborative effort! I hope we plant as many if not more trees than what we demolish.

    • Matt Graybill

       Ben we are replacing trees and then some.

  • Lspack4

    I am so glad. My Grandfather was the caretaker there when I was little and we lived in the house that is there! I have been a little worried about how this would all work out, so I am very glad that they are so supportive. Even though I don’t attend there anymore I still love that church!!!!! My grand parents are both buried there as well as some very close friends.
    Praise be to God!!!

  • Jeff

    Isn’t God awesome?!

    Thank you E-mail and card just completed!

  • Arnedacrichton

    Just saw this through my cousin’s facebook message.  Nice, Matt.  Arneda

    • Matt Graybill

       Thanks Arneda!

  • Jeff

    Isn’t God awesome? Thank you for sharing this.

  • Jeff

    There are so many comments here; it shows there is a true
    desire for God and His Word to continue to grow here in PA and beyond. I am in
    no way in a leadership role with LCBC, just a Christian (Christ In) that feels
    moved enough to comment at this time.

    God’s desire, as I have been taught, and read, is to bring
    His lost sheep home. He does this through people, events, happenings, stories,
    and even new buildings, which we may never, until the judgments and eternity,
    ever know the “why” for.  The presence of
    this physical church will be to allow people who like the “style” of worship,
    fellowship, and kid’s fellowship, to perhaps come and see, and then we can let
    God do the rest. Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase (I Cor 3:6).

    Someone commented on people barely putting food on the table
    and need of references; please write me at and if you are
    referring to a specific need, let’s see if there is a way we can meet the need?
    If it is that you are looking for some true scripture references to support or
    back up the statements of the people comments, I am sure Matt can give them to
    you if you have some specifics. It appears he is reading the blog? I am able to
    provide references as well, but as I stated, I AM NOT speaking for the church. However,
    as a Christian if you want to talk some time, perhaps we can work the scripture

    I am deeply saddened at the removal of trees, or the
    destruction of any natural resource for “brick and mortar.” Often times, in my
    humble opinion, the end result and the greater good do prevail. I would more so
    believe this due to God and His Word being the topic here. The cost of redoing
    an asbestos infested (no rhyme intended) building is two to three times the
    cost of “down and up” building. I have an undergrad in Public and Environmental
    Affairs, and am also willing to contact a person in a position of Federal and
    State Environmental issues to answer those concerns if you like. I also read
    someone proposed and Matt stated they are looking to planting a row of trees to
    now replace the ones taken down. I do hope when this happens, I can be there to
    participate, to put back to the environment is great, to plant Gods word is
    AWESOME. To do both at the same time, well, awesome. Please let time you drive by the location bring thought of Gods newest kids coming to know Him and being saved for all eternity, and not a thought of a negative nature. The memories of time past are hard to see fade away, I am sorry this church coming in has in any way caused you to be sad.

    There is a time and a place for everything (Ecclesiastes
    3:1-11). I believe the time is for more of God’s kids to come home by this building
    coming. It is most definitely NOT going to take any away.

    May God bless you all always…

  • Adhilyard

    Wow! PTL for others who want to sacrifice to see Lives Changed by CHrist. Thank you for sharing this,
    Dave and ANn Hilyard

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