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Christian Life Center’s Servants of Praise Breaking Down the Walls Between Gospel and Contemporary Christian Music

image003 (1)It’s been said that Sunday morning during the 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated time in America.  With many worship styles rooted in diverse cultural expressions, parishioners tend to flock to churches they are familiar with, churches that worship God in ways they are comfortable with.  Churchgoers join houses of worship similar to the ones their parents dragged them to as children and in most of those churches, the faces looked the same.  But heaven will be different; every nationality imaginable will be represented.

Christian Life Center is already setting the stage down here with a diverse and multi-cultural congregation.  Located on the outskirts of Chicago, the congregants are led by Pastors Jerry & Chris McQuay.  A Caucasian pastor, Jerry McQuay urged his congregation to go out into the community and bring in people of other ethnicities when the church members began to look alike.

The church isn’t just diverse culturally, but also musically.  Comprised of about 30 adults, the ministry of Servants Of Praise, CLC’s mass choir, embraces a collage of music styles: Contemporary Christian, Contemporary Gospel, Traditional Gospel and many others.  The debut release of the group, CLC:Live, is a spirited, assorted collection of praise to God.

The example doesn’t just come from their pastors – who are passionate about their congregation looking like the Kingdom of God – but also the group’s leader.  Jon Jones, the Worship and Fine Arts Pastor of CLC, has been called to a varied core of believers as well.  Years ago he received a prophetic word of his specific call: “You are created, called and uniquely gifted to reproduce the Atmosphere of Heaven on Earth!”  It’s a mandate that Jones has taken seriously.

“We have a hodge-podge of music,” says Jones.  “In our services, we’ll sing CCM and Gospel.  I believe our church has a special sound and I’ve seen that it’s palatable to those who love Gospel music and those who prefer CCM.  It has a Christian feel.”  It wasn’t until congregants approached him that he considered recording.

“After we sang songs on Sunday morning, people would ask me weekly if they could buy the songs.  There is such an atmosphere of worship in our church and people wanted to take that home,” says Jones.  At that point, they recorded the songs and sold them to church members.  But then Jon began to feel that the songs were for a larger body of believers.  That’s when he decided to record CLC: Live, Servants Of Praise and release it nationally.

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Taking the lead role on the project, Jones co-produced and arranged the CD as well.  The new release contains tunes penned by Jones, including the island-themed “Higha”.  The track segues into straight worship with “Higha Flow”, a medley of well-known Gospel songs including Bill & Gloria Gaither’s “There’s Something About That Name” and Kirk Franklin’s “Something About The Name”.  “Higha Flow” allows a sweet presence to permeate the record providing an intimate time of worship with the Lord.  Lamar Campbell’s “More Than Anything” and a new song, “Raise Us Up” round out the moving medley.

Worshippers will enjoy the worshipful “You Are”.  Songs like the up-tempo opener “I Am Forgiven” to the unforgettable “Love Song” show that this choir knows how to give God His due.  The “Medley”, featuring I Will Exalt You” and “Hosanna”, move the worshipper even closer to the throne.  The project ends with a phenomenal reprise of “The Anthem” and a soft and meditative “Hallelujah”.  One listen to Servants of Praise’s CLC: Live and the world’s cares just got a little bit lighter.  From beginning to end, the CD is an impressive body of work.

The church itself is impressive as well. Started in 1990, the Christian Life Center began with just 147 members.  Now the church boasts over 2,000 members and three campuses, one of which is the Tinley Park Campus, a multi-million dollar site.

It’s been said that praise goes forth all day long in Heaven.  With all types races represented, the sound is most likely just as varied as the people.  One listen to CLC’s Servants of Praise CD and the atmosphere of Heaven is set here on earth.

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