January 2012

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Called, Connect, Catalyst, Compassion

By Michelle A. Ziner | Photography by India Sullivan

Posted: Friday, Sep. 02, 2011

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If you hear the sound of incredible music and see hundreds of young adults flocking to Crosspoint Worship Center on a Sunday evening as you travel past the campus of UNC Charlotte, you should stop and experience a phenomenon occurring in the University area.

The start of each new semester at UNCC brings students from more than 60 countries to the University area to pursue their academic goals and take steps toward their dreams. Adjusting to college life, many students find themselves feeling alone, disconnected and possibly spiritually empty. Having been in this situation in the past and realizing the great spiritual need of college students, three young Christian professionals from Charlotte answered the call in late 2009 to become the catalysts of change to the campus at UNCC.

Roshan Varghese, a U.S. history teacher and soccer coach at Butler High School, and Christopher Claud of Wachovia Bank contacted Tyson Coughlin, a campus pastor and real estate agent in Charlotte. Together, the three researched and visited many of the other 30 Christian campus ministries and discovered a troubling statistic: less than 3 percent of the campus was being reached.

“We knew we could reach more,” says Coughlin. Believing that they could radically improve this statistic, C4 was created to “do something new” by offering a relevant, interactive experience, connecting with the heart of the students.

“C4 is a rapidly growing movement of college students and young adults who gather weekly to glorify Jesus, while being catalysts of compassion to UNC Charlotte and all campuses throughout the greater Charlotte and metropolitan area,” says Coughlin.

The combined creative talent of the three proved to be explosive. Approximately 20 students attended the first Sunday meeting held on campus in January 2010. A small group of student leaders and volunteer musicians from the Charlotte area set the stage for Coughlin to bring his powerful message. Word spread quickly about the talented musicians, professional set design and Coughlin’s unparalleled ability to bring the word of God straight and simply to this generation. Attendance swelled to hundreds in the first year.

When UNCC passed a new noise ordinance during winter break in 2010 prohibiting amplified music, C4 needed a new place to meet before the students returned for the second semester.

The C4 leadership approached Pastor Theron Hobbs, Sr. at the newly opened building of Crosspoint Worship Center, located directly across the street from the entrance of UNCC, with their need. For years, Hobbs had been praying for the campus and knew his church was positioned to be of service to the students and families at the university. Due to unfortunate events with a general contractor, the construction of his building had remained incomplete for many years, but the church occupied its new building just before C4 approached him. Hobbs says the partnership with C4 has been a fulfillment of years of praying by the church. With the new facility and C4 ministering with Hobbs and the congregation, Crosspoint is becoming the church it was intended to be. “We love and support this ministry and are excited for the things to come,” Hobbs says.

Since January of this year, C4 has seen hundreds in attendance each Sunday evening, with hundreds more expected as the fall semester begins. “This is not just another campus ministry; it is non-denominational and open to everyone,” says Coughlin. The students have a voice and are welcomed to be part of many unique service opportunities, including social media, welcoming, ushering, creative production, prayer and parking. C4 is entirely led and run by a leadership team of students and adults in their mid- to late 20s. Weekly small groups meet in area homes and coffee shops, and a more intimate service is held at Crosspoint on Thursday evenings with quieter, unplugged music and a teaching.

C4 combines different genres of music into the worship experience. Some music is original, and the ministry has even rewritten secular hip-hop songs with praise lyrics.

C4 attracts Charlotte’s most talented volunteer musicians who rotate on a weekly or monthly basis. “I guarantee C4 has one of the best bands in the city,” Coughlin says. Worship leader and recording artist Jordan Connell agrees. “I have led worship and played at a lot of ministries in the city of Charlotte, but C4 is the only one where I feel at home. At C4, I have found amazing Godly friendships, and I am definitely not just another musician. I'm so happy that God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve Jesus alongside such amazing people,” says Connell.

Students and attendees are amazed each week by the enhancement of the creative aspects of C4. Recently, Coughlin launched his illustrated sermon series containing artistic visual elements to communicate the gospel. A recent series called “Reflections” dealt with how people perceive themselves. Mirrors were set up throughout the auditorium and on stage. On the mirrors, Coughlin wrote the ways people misunderstand themselves and then shattered the mirror with a nail resembling the nails from the cross, symbolizing Christ consuming and abolishing their insecurities. Then, students wrote on the mirrors how they think God sees them: beautiful, free, strong, courageous and bold. Coughlin designs his messages to engage the logic and heart of every student and young adult.

Although C4 is a mission to UNCC and constantly strives to reach the campus in more innovative ways, C4 encourages people of all ages and denominations to come and experience the variety of art, music, talent and most importantly, Coughlin’s messages.

“Tyson and the other leaders of C4 have tapped into more than just the lives of students, church members and people of the community; they have helped to ignite a fire in the souls of everyone who attends, in order to spread the love of Christ. I am blown away by the genuine, true compassion they share with and for each other,” says 20-year-old Kenna Ehman, who drives from Waxhaw each week.

C4 is not funded by any larger group or organization. It survives only by donations from students and others who believe in its mission. In the future, Coughlin intends to connect with other area college campuses. He desires and welcomes the community to come as well. Crosspoint Worship Center is located directly across from the main entrance of UNCC on Hwy. 49. C4 meetings are held every Sunday night at 7 p.m. When you hear the music and see the excitement, turn in. Don’t miss what’s happening in the University area.

Want to go?

C4 Charlotte, Crosspoint Worship Center, 9116 University City Blvd.

www.c4charlotte.com.

C4 is available to travel to other locations and Tyson Coughlin is available for speaking engagements. Contact Tyson Coughlin at info@c4charlotte.com.

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