The Crossing Church (Minnesota)

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The Crossing Church
45°26′33.3″N 93°35′40.7″W / 45.442583°N 93.594639°W / 45.442583; -93.594639Coordinates: 45°26′33.3″N 93°35′40.7″W / 45.442583°N 93.594639°W / 45.442583; -93.594639
Location Elk River, Minnesota
Country USA
Weekly attendance 2,400 weekly
Former name(s) The Crossing at Woodland Fellowship
Founder(s) Eric Dykstra
Synod Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference

The Crossing is a Christian church based in Elk River, Minnesota that is affiliated with the Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference.[1] Six services are offered in three different Minnesotan cities: Elk River, Big Lake, and Zimmerman. The church is heavily involved in outreach to these communities. Sermons are based on biblical principles[2] and taught in one- to twenty-week topical series on subjects such as who God is, following Jesus, relationships, and finances. The music at the church is a contemporary but gritty rock, and there are occasional covers of popular secular songs that fit that week's message. Childcare with age-appropriate biblical teaching is available during the services at every campus. The Crossing has grown from a church of 40 to over 2,000 since its beginning in 2004.

Values and Beliefs[edit]

Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra states: The Crossing is “always, only about Jesus,”[3] and focuses on reaching out to people who normally feel uncomfortable or un-welcomed at traditional churches. The church seeks to “embrace culture rather than disengage from reach more people in an attempt to introduce them to Jesus”.[4] The Crossing’s approach to “doing church” has often drawn criticism.[5] However, the church’s website states that they "maintain a traditional theological position.” The Crossing’s Statement of Faith is available on its website.[6]


In 2004, Eric Dykstra and his wife, Kelly, were sent by Grace Fellowship Church in Brooklyn Park, MN to lead its Elk River church plant, Woodland Fellowship. At the 2004 Sherburne County Fair the church was renamed to “The Crossing at Woodland Fellowship”, based on the votes of fair-goers. Dykstra replanted the church with this vision: “To thrill believers with spiritual truths of an awe-inspiring God and to move seekers one step closer to a real relationship with Jesus.” In October 2004, The Crossing at Woodland Fellowship held its first Grand Opening at Marcus Theatres’ Elk River Cinema.[7] Its first meeting hosted 239 attenders, and attendance steadily increased. Soon multiple services were being offered on Sunday morning before showtimes at the Elk River movie theater.[8]

In 2006, The Crossing adopted Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step faith-based recovery group that welcomed people struggling with “hurts, habits, and hang-ups”. Its first meeting hosted seven people.[9]

In February 2008, attendance reached 450 people. The church began running Saturday night services at the Elk River United Methodist Church, but quickly outgrew the available space.

In June 2009, the first permanent location of The Crossing at Woodland Fellowship was purchased across the street from Elk River High School. The church’s name was abbreviated to “The Crossing,” and plans were initiated to expand the church into neighboring cities. In September 2009, the Elk River Campus welcomed 1,496 people for its first Grand Opening in the new building. In October, The Crossing’s first satellite campus was launched at Westwood Elementary in Zimmerman, Minnesota with an attendance of 277.

In April 2010, Celebrate Recovery became “Crossing Recovery,” and a new group began meeting in Princeton, Minnesota. In June 2010, the first THRILL+MOVE Conference was held at the Elk River Campus. In September 2010, the church made local news when it gave away four pairs of Vikings season tickets on the opening weekend of its series “First & Goal.” Church-wide attendance grew to 2,400 people.[10] The Grand Opening of the Big Lake Campus launched at a bar called The Friendly Buffalo in Big Lake, Minnesota.

The Grand Opening of The Crossing’s third satellite location occurred in January 2011, when 217 worshippers gathered in the Princeton Party House in Princeton, Minnesota. In April 2011, The Crossing made local news again when it gave away 3D televisions and Nintendo 3DS video game systems to new visitors on Easter weekend. Eric Dykstra was quoted saying, “I have no problem bribing people with crap in order to meet Christ.”[11] 6,000 people attended 11 services at the four campuses, followed by nearly 900 professions of faith. In June 2011, The Crossing hosted its second THRILL+MOVE Conference. Crossing Recovery added meetings at its Big Lake Campus and Zimmerman Campus; what started as a small group of seven in 2006 had grown to a group of over 200 people at four campuses every week.

In April 2012, The Crossing started its longest series yet. The twenty-week series, “What Christians Believe About:”, promised to tackle the most difficult questions that believers and non-believers alike have about the basics of Christianity.

In 2013, the Crossing changed its tagline from “people who don’t do church” to “Guilt free. Grace full.”


In September 2010, The Crossing opened its second satellite campus. This campus met in a bar, and claims were made that the church served alcohol in its service. An article in the West Sherburne Tribune stated that this was untrue, and that alcohol was not served in the service.[12]

In February 2011, Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra was criticized for purchasing a car and a house after a building campaign. This campaign was typical of nonprofit capital campaigns, and was titled “The Code of the Samurai.” The people of The Crossing were challenged to give above and beyond to make it possible to expand the Elk River Campus and eventually open additional Crossing campuses across Minnesota. Church members, including the Dykstras, donated large amounts of money to the church, and raised pledges that totaled three million dollars to finance the vision. When asked about the purchases he’d made after the campaign was finished, Dykstra explained that he and his family had moved because “2,000 plus people knew exactly where we lived...we had people stopping over at the house constantly to the point where I actually had less peace at my house than I did at the workplace.” He added that because they lived further from work and from their three children’s schools, they needed a second vehicle, purchasing a 2000 Chevy truck.[13]

In September 2011, the church was accused of having “too much control” of its members; former attenders voiced fears that the church was becoming a cult. Pastor Kelly Dykstra responded by saying that The Crossing is not a cult; they follow Jesus, but “anytime an organization does something differently it becomes suspect.” Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra stated that he had been “misquoted” and that he simply “follows Jesus and teaches the Bible [in a way that] ordinary, beer-drinking, McDonalds-eating, average people” can understand and relate to.[14]


THRILL+MOVE Conferences[edit]

The Crossing hosted its first conference on June 8, 2010. The name of the conference reflected the church’s vision to “thrill seekers and move believers.” Pastor Eric Dykstra stated in an article that “the Thrill + Move Conference is a great opportunity for pastors and church attenders alike to benefit from leadership principles [I have] learned over the past several years.” The conference hosted more than 200 pastors and church leaders from all over Minnesota and was intended to share leadership principles in order to inspire church leaders to grow their churches.[15] The Crossing’s second Thrill+Move Conference occurred on June 7, 2011.

J12 Conference 2012[edit]

Crossing Recovery began meeting in Elk River in 2006. In 2012, it had grown from a group of seven to more than two hundred people at four different locations. Moved by the life change taking place in Elk River and the surrounding communities, and having set a goal to “see an end to addiction,” Pastors Eric Dykstra and Bruce Rauma hosted the J12 Conference to share The Crossing’s experiences with starting and maintaining a faith-based recovery program. Having invited pastors and church leaders from all around Minnesota, Rauma hoped to “take the mystery out of starting an effective recovery group.” [16]


In 2010, Pastor Kelly Dykstra started TWIRL, the first women’s ministry at The Crossing. According to the church’s website, “The purpose of TWIRL is to thrill the women of The Crossing (and their friends) with the truth of their unique design from God, and to move them to TWIRL – with open arms, generous hearts, and meaningful friendships that together will change the world.” Through TWIRL, the women of The Crossing joined together to support the A21 Campaign to help abolish human trafficking and the sex slave trade. They have also raised money for various local and global initiatives.[17]


Crossing Recovery[edit]

Crossing Recovery (CR) is a 12-step, faith-based recovery group that “gives people a safe place to find freedom from anything: from past pain and present struggles to hard-core addictions.” Hundreds of people in the Elk River area, including many teenagers, have found freedom from all kinds of addictions through the CR program.[18]

Compassion For All Orphanage[edit]

The Crossing fully sponsors Compassion for All orphanage in Haiti, through an organization called C3 Global. Since it first took up the orphanage in 2010, teams from The Crossing have visited many times to encourage, bring supplies, and assist in repairing the facilities. Fundraisers have also been organized at the church to provide the children with a clean water source, a much-needed propane stove, and a roof.[19]

Local Outreach[edit]

Since it first began in 2004, The Crossing has reached out to its surrounding communities in a variety of ways. An ad the church printed in a local paper stated, “not only do we want to see life change within the church, we want to see people’s lives being changed in a positive way in our communities and throughout the world.” [20] Below is a list of some ways that The Crossing has been proactive in helping families in need beyond its church doors:

  • The church has hosted multiple food-drives at weekend services. Attenders brought in non-perishable items to give to those in need. In total, the church has donated over six tons of food to food shelves in Elk River and surrounding areas.
  • In 2011 alone, the church donated over $50,000 to people in the community to help pay for mortgages, electricity bills, gas, and groceries.
  • The church donated 1,874 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls in 2011. Crossing attenders spontaneously left the shoes they were wearing on their chairs and went home from church barefoot.
  • In winter of 2008, attenders were challenged in weekend services to give their coats to people in the community who needed them. 300 coats were spontaneously donated to the local food shelf.
  • Over 1,250 shoeboxes filled with gifts were donated to Operation Christmas Child. An annual tradition at The Crossing, children assemble the shoeboxes to send Christmas presents to kids around the world.
  • Crossing attenders packed over 85,000 meals at Feed My Starving Children that were sent to children all over the world.
  • The Crossing gave away three cars over Easter weekend in 2010.
  • In August 2012, the church assembled backpacks full of school supplies for local children. Church attenders donated money to purchase the backpacks; more than $4,209 worth of backpacks and school supplies were then donated to local schools and organizations.

Along with these material contributions, The Crossing has made an impact on attenders and their friends and families. Pastor Tom Tuckey stated in an interview that the church does things differently, but “we are really only pointing people towards Jesus and giving them hope for a better tomorrow.” [21]


  1. ^ "The Crossing Church - Elk River". Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Core Values Converge MIBC". Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Dykstra, Eric. "The Crossing Church Story". The Crossing Church. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Edwards, Jennifer (2010-11-11). "See the church without the steeple". West Sherburne Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  5. ^ Nygren, Casey. "The Crossing church or cult?". Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "What we believe". The Crossing Church. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Marcus Theatres". Marcus Theatres. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  8. ^ "Our Story". The Crossing Church. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Crossing Recovery Info". The Crossing Church. 
  10. ^ Dykstra, Kelly. "The Crossing Church Giving Away Free Vikings Season Tickets.". High Heels & Duct Tape. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Church lures worshippers with TVs, Nintendo". KARE 11. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2012.  (Speaker Icon.svg Page will play audio when loaded)
  12. ^ Edwards, Jennifer (2010-11-11). "See the church without the steeple". West Sherburne Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  13. ^ Collins, Liz. "Pastor Addresses Controversy at the Crossing". Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Collins, Liz. "Elk River Church’s Practices Stir Controversy". CBS Minnesota. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Inaugural church conference draws lots of attention". Star News. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "J12 Conference 2012: Rescue the Broken". Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  17. ^ "TWIRL". The Crossing Church. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  18. ^ "The Crossing Celebrates 7 Years in Elk River". Ad (Star News). 2011-10-22. 
  19. ^ "Our Hearts Are With Haiti". The Crossing Church. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  20. ^ Edwards, Jennifer (2010-11-11). "See the church without the steeple". West Sherburne Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  21. ^ Edwards, Jennifer (2010-11-11). "See the church without the steeple". West Sherburne Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-09.