Blankets and camping chairs may not immediately come to mind when you think of Sunday church service. But that’s the vibe built around Life Dallas, an outdoor church developed by pastor Grant Myers.
“God opened the door,” he said. And he means that rather literally. “If Jesus walked here on Earth again, the last place he’d enter is a church — church didn’t start in a building.”
Myers admits his own love of the outdoors. He grew up in Georgia, attended seminary in Tennessee, and worked in ministry in Colorado for a few years. He enjoys taking his dogs, Huckleberry and Sammy, out on hiking trips.
But the church is about more than just his own passions.
“I think you’ll see that God’s here,” he said. “What better place to meet than in God’s creation?”
At its essence, Life Dallas is a non-denominational church, in that it doesn’t subscribe to the doctrine of any one denomination. But that’s not a term that Myers likes very much.
“We do church differently,” he said. “Non-denominational means you’re basically saying, ‘we’re not a part of something.’ We’re a church where people find out about God and Jesus.”
Myers led the first meeting of the church in Caruth Park on May 25, though an official kickoff is scheduled for Sept. 14, following summer vacation for many families.
In fact, families and children are a large demographic for Life Dallas. Myers worked on the staff at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church for about seven years, so many of the initial families came from that congregation, or those who had children at Wesley Prep.
Myers feels that having kids engaged in a church service is key, whether they are high-school students or younger children.
“I like how real Grant is,” said Peyton Moore, a senior at Bishop Lynch High School who plays guitar and sings at Life Dallas. “He’s very open and willing to talk about anything.”
As evidence of that, Myers’ summer series, entitled “Fake I.D.,” examined the roots of identity and how to face insecurities from a Christian perspective.
And though many families are traveling during the summer months, Myers’ sermons have drawn as many as 120 listeners at one time.
“Our kids hated going [to church],” said elder Neiman Hill. “We were out here the first Sunday, and now the kids can’t wait to go to church.”
For her kids, the attraction is simple.
“I like it better outside,” Tate Hill said. “When it’s inside, you have to get fancy.”
As far as University Park goes, city spokesman Steve Mace said there’s nothing on the books that would restrict such gatherings from taking place in the park.
Even still, Myers hopes the church will eventually have its own building, keeping the outdoors in mind.
“We’re going to have land one day for a building, but we also want to have the option to meet outside if the weather’s permitting, whether we build an amphitheater or have a grassy area,” he said. “We would like the option of both.”