Formerly Jackson Christian Church, we opened our first location on Easter Sunday 1964 as a church plant of Canton First Christian Church to serve Jackson Township.
In addition to our current 8 RiverTree Campuses, we’re helping launch multiple networks of churches who will multiply the church at every level by equipping people to be disciple-makers of Jesus Christ. We are committed to linking arms with other churches and organizations to make Ohio a bright light for Jesus Christ for many generations to come.
We have 4 strategies to send 20,000 missionaries. We created an area platform for multiplying kingdom leaders called One Center for Leadership. We equip marketplace organizations to be liberating leaders through GiANT Worldwide. We train next generation leaders through church residencies and university apprenticeships. And we link arms with regional church networks around the world.
Local Elders are installed by the congregation to independently govern us. RiverTree does not belong to any denominational boards, hierarchies, or voting associations. Our current Elder Team is made up of 7 men and women.
Ohio is in the heart of the Rust Belt. Once filled with people alive, populating growing vibrant cities, but now, just like it’s lonely abandoned factories, many Ohio cities are filled with people who wake up to a gray, sin-tainted, hopeless existence. Who don’t know their real God-given identity or purpose they got out of bed to live. Who live hating people different than them and tired of trusting people who continue to hurt them. Who turn to numbing it, finding others to blame for it, and hiding in their shame of it. They look to a church that doesn’t preach a big enough gospel to fix it. And so many beautiful people in our communities, who God loves dearly, choose to simply check out and quit.
We are ready to wake up to something different. Ushered in by Jesus Christ, our torch-bearer of vibrant light. And we are His Church. People completely forgiven, resurrected, and restored by Jesus to live bright vibrant lives that shout to others, “Don’t hate, don’t hide, don’t blame, not anymore!” People who Wake up For the Light of Jesus, so that our families, neighbors, friends, students, and colleagues can wake up To the Light of Jesus. Wake up for new identity no matter what your past. Wake up for fighting a spiritual war against our real enemy. Wake up for deep reconciliation that covers over generations of sin. Wake up for God-given purpose and relationships that last forever. Wake up and look out the window and see your community transforming from dark and dull to colorful and alive. Wake up for the light of Jesus Christ, so that Jesus can bring his beautiful, vibrant, grace-filled color to our communities, that multitudes will be drawn to Ohio to see. And when they ask “What happened here?” we will only be able to say, “Ohio woke up to the Light of Jesus.”
The Church are people who Love Jesus. The Church is not a building but people who love Jesus so much that they allow Jesus to be Lord of every area of their lives. The Church of Jesus is meant to be reigning in every sphere, every nook and cranny of society and culture. We believe Jesus will return to reign forever and ever and that everyone will say that Jesus is Lord, and we simply want to get started now.
John 1:14 tells us that in Jesus the Word who created the world ‘became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” RiverTree churches show that tangibly to their communities. Each church has a deep God-given bias to their schools, their neighborhoods, their stores and local businesses. Our Campus Pastors lead the way by acting as the primary missionaries to love their unique community and context, and our churches are gatherings of people who want to see the Good News of Jesus saturate their communities.
Jesus was sent to go to the cross to forgive our sins, but he also was sent to show us how to live life as truly human (John 20:21). His life was driven by 3 primary relationships: UP to his Father, IN with his disciples, and OUT to the world. We are made to live in those same relationships now. Our dream is that God would send out 20,000 people who are devoting their lives to all three relationships.
It’s not hard to find stories of Christian leaders who started out well and then fell to burn out, moral failure, or abuse of power. Jesus said that if we don’t remain in him we can do nothing. Our hope is that every leader across RiverTree – paid or volunteer – would operate consistently from their true source, Jesus. That we would be humble, teachable, and always maturing in our first Love. RiverTree will invest resources into marriages, counseling, professional development, and sabbath rest for our leaders so that we are a group of leaders who are whole, live with integrity, and who are built for the long haul.
This is why we believe that being a part of a bigger tribe is so important. This is why we will give money and time and energy to more than just our own context. This is why we will partner with churches and organizations that are not RiverTree to multiply the Kingdom. This is why we want teams that are full of different kinds of people – different giftings, genders, ages, and backgrounds. Because it is in being a part of something bigger than ourselves that we see the Glory of God.
1. Missionaries are not just people who travel overseas. We want to see everyday missionaries following Jesus into their mission fields – their offices, their neighborhoods, their schools, and their ball fields. We want every person connected to RiverTree to wake up ready to join Jesus on mission.
2. It’s one thing to live as a disciple, a learner, of Jesus. It’s another thing to be able to give Jesus to others. We want to equip not just disciples but disciple makers. An army of people who are not just heroes, but hero makers. Learn to give of the Jesus they have been given to others, who will be able to do the same.
3. We desire to see real churches outside of a Sunday morning that are focused on being good news to a neighborhood or network of people. We call these missional communities and are the place where real tangible life on mission happens. We also develop covenant partnerships with many other organizations and churches so that we can multiply our resources, talents, and people for what God is doing in our communities.
4. Our in-person and online gatherings at our churches are designed to help everyone experience with family friends and neighbors. Many of our missional communities and discipling relationships attend or watch these gatherings together and then use the content for great discussion and prayer as they follow Jesus together. Each gathering will be filled with inspiration and high expectation that the Good News of Jesus really is Good News. We will creatively plan gatherings in-person and online that compel us to respond to the gospel as we read the Bible, celebrate communion and baptism, worship God through hearing the spoken word, singing worship, and giving generously to God.
5. We want to be a reproducing and multiplying family of churches at every level including new churches and networks of churches. Each of our churches will multiply new churches by bringing on church planting residents who they will develop and send out together. Our churches will also collaborate in geographic networks to care for each other, hold each other accountable and be good news to their regions.
There is one God who is the source of everything – God is one and He exists as three equal persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has existed eternally and is the creator of everything that exists in the universe, both physical and spiritual. He is actively involved in sustaining life and matter in the universe and also supernaturally intervenes in human existence to achieve His purposes. He has made mankind in His image and has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that He wants to be in a love relationship with his people. (Genesis 1:26; Exodus 6:7; Matthew 3:16-17; John 3:16; Acts 17:24-30; Romans 1:20; 2 Peter 3:9)
God lives in YOU – We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third, equal part of the Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit) who influences the lives of unbelievers and who comes to live within every Christian. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to every believer so that the church might be built up and fully function as the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit also influences the thoughts and actions of every believer for the purpose of increasing the Christ-like character of that believer. The Holy Spirit’s presence in a Christian is the assurance of God’s acceptance and of a place with God in eternity. (John 14:16-17; John 16:7-9; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
Every human being is made in the image of God and is also a sinner – We believe that human beings are created in the image of God, but that through Adam’s sin they now possess a sinful nature and also do actively sin. Because of this sin, without God’s intervention, every person is doomed to an eternity of punishment and separation from God. (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:16-17; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 1:17-3:12; Romans 3:23)
Jesus is the only Son of God, the only way to heaven – We believe that Jesus Christ is God’s only Son who was physically born as human being while remaining fully God. Because He was both fully God and fully human, His death was able to make the perfect and only payment for our sin and He is, therefore, the only way a person may have his or her broken relationship with God restored and enter God’s eternal presence in Heaven. (John 14:6; Romans 3:21-25; John 11:25-26 ; Acts 4:12)
What the Bible says about Jesus is entirely true – We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived and born of a virgin through the power of God’s Spirit, that He lived a sinless life, that He physically died on a cross, that He rose from the dead, and that He currently sits at the right hand of God. We believe He did all of this because He loves us. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 1:34-35; Luke 22:70; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Matthew 28:1-7)
Jesus will be back – We believe that Jesus Christ will return to this earth to judge the world, to gather those who have put their faith in Him and to punish those who have continued to rebel against Him. While the exact moment of his return will not be known, the fact that He will return should cause us to live with urgency and should be a great hope to everyone who trusts in Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; Mark 13:32; Philippians 2:9-11; Titus 2:13)
Heaven and Hell are real – We believe that Heaven and Hell are both real places for human beings to exist after death and that every human being will exist for eternity either in God’s presence or separated from Him. We believe that the Biblical descriptions of Heaven and Hell are meant to give us a basic understanding of these places; but that each will be more wonderful and more awful than we can comprehend. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Acts 24:15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:31-34,41,46; Revelation 21:3-5; Revelation 22:5; 2 Peter 2:13-17; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 14:9-12)
Salvation is by grace through faith – We believe that salvation is a free gift from God given to any person who puts their faith in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. This gift of salvation includes an immediate restoration of a person’s relationship with God and, through yielding to the Holy Spirit, a lifetime of continuing transformation of that person’s character into the character of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3:21-22; Romans 10:9; Acts 16:30-31; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:29)
Faith is more than just believing – We believe that Biblical faith is more than just mental agreement with a list of facts about Jesus. It begins with a faith-decision to trust the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to be the final payment for your sin and to follow Him as the new leader of your life. This true faith in Jesus then naturally influences the thoughts and actions of the believer and is therefore evident in how the disciple actually lives. (James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:24-27; John 14:15)
The Bible is the absolute truth – The Bible is the source of truth about the origin and purpose of the human race and reveals the nature of our Divine Creator. It communicates God’s perfect standards concerning human life and is the truth by which every person will be judged. We believe the Bible was written under the guidance of God himself, that it contains no errors in the original texts, and that it is sure, safe, and reliable in all matters when appropriately read and interpreted. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Peter 1:24-25; Isaiah 40:8)
The Bible is completely relevant to life – We believe the Bible is entirely relevant to human existence today and provides the best information for living the highest quality of life on this earth and for all eternity. (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:16)
The local church is the hope of the world – We believe that the local church is the living, breathing body of Christ on this earth, whose purpose is to continue with the mission that Jesus had when He was here. We believe that all believers are meant to be an integral part of the local church where they will collectively use their God-given gifts to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world around them and to grow together in community and character. (Ephesians 4:4; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:41-47; John 14:12; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 16:18)
Preach a big Gospel at weekend gatherings – Each weekend gathering at our churches will be filled with inspiration and high expectation that the Good News of Jesus really is Good News. We will allow room for the Holy Spirit to do his mysterious work in everyone who attends. We will creatively plan gatherings that compel us to respond to the gospel as we read the Bible, celebrate communion and baptism, worship God through hearing the spoken word, singing worship, and giving generously to God.
Equip all people to live naturally supernatural – All people were meant to have a real active relationship with God. Hearing God’s voice and cooperating with a living God was not meant for just a few spiritual elite. We will equip and send all Christians to live empowered by and actively learning to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Saturate neighborhoods and networks with disciple makers – Every learner of Jesus is made to be a disciple maker. We will equip people to be individual missionaries, start missional communities, and invest in intentional discipling relationships. We will create 3rd spaces as platforms for apprenticeships, marketplace missionaries, and education centers.
Invest in the next generation – God has placed in us His unique love for children and students. Jesus said some powerful statements about how much God values the next generation. We believe they are the church of the present, not the future, and we will dedicate our time, resources and imagination to help the next generation – around the world and in our own backyard – know Jesus and follow him.
Multiply the church by sending leaders to plant churches – We form apprenticeships and residencies to equip and send leaders to plant churches in Ohio and around the world. We will have new church planting residents on our team every 2 years. We will put 5-10% of our movement missions resources back each year for future church planting efforts. We will lead area network gatherings with other like-minded churches. We will develop a culture where it is normal at every RiverTree church to send out our best leaders to change the world for Jesus Christ.