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He turned toward ministry at Duke Divinity School. There, while camping out for Blue Devils basketball tickets, he met his wife, the Rev. Wendy Lyons Chrostek.
After graduating in 2006, Scott Chrostek, with his wife, began working in a suburban Detroit church while preparing to lead a new downtown Detroit congregation.
Amid setbacks to the opening of the new downtown Detroit church, Hamilton called. In summer 2009, the Chrosteks moved to downtown Kansas City to lead a church campus set to meet in the Grand Avenue Temple building. Congregation: nine. In search of more people, Scott Chrostek went on a coffee-shop tour, visiting 33 in 31 days, he says. (Recalling his caffeine walkabout, he says the Filling Station became his favorite.)
He began with small talk.
"The point in the conversation when I would say I was a church pastor was always so polarizing. They would either think it was cool or they'd leave," Chrostek says. "No matter what, it got people talking. Someone would leave and tell a friend or wife or husband, 'I was at this coffee shop today, and this pastor came up to me ... ' "
The new church downtown, Chrostek would tell those he met, didn't adhere to a stereotype. A church that transforms lives and communities, he told people over coffee. A place that's not about conforming. It's a philosophy that recalls Hamilton's successful Leawood recipe.
It's a strategy that also includes collecting names, phone numbers and addresses at each service. First-timers usually received a prompt thank-you note from Chrostek in the mail. Those who attended were encouraged to invite a friend. Regular attendees were invited — the word asked was purposely avoided — to join.
By summer 2010, the downtown church had reached 160 members and had outgrown its space. Next stop: the Scarritt Building, at Eighth Street and Walnut.
Still, the church sought a place of its own. Last year, while frequenting Crosstown Station for its music, Scott Chrostek heard that the bar's struggles were forcing it to close. He recognized it as a facility ideal for the 200 members then crowding the Scarritt's ballroom. (As the church prepared to make a permanent home downtown, it also opened its other planned branch: Resurrection Blue Springs.)
From the outside, Resurrection Downtown's new home could still pass as a club. It sits just a block outside the Power & Light District, and its neighbors include a strip club, a tattoo parlor and a handful of bars. That's the point: Hamilton and Chrostek want to reach the downtown set.
Originally an auto dealership, the building has brick walls, concrete floors and a wooden-beamed ceiling. Crosstown's drum lights and stage remain, though the bar is gone. Here to stay are wooden crosses on the stage, a cry room and a nursery, and a coffee bar that features a new blend from the Roasterie — the "Rez Downtown" blend, of course.
During church services, 33-year-old Chrostek wears jeans and a microphone headset. A seven-piece rock band jams onstage. Videos play on a pull-down screen. Attendees are encouraged to chat with one another. Everyone is asked to sit closer to the center of the rows, leaving the empty seats on the ends.
The scene — a room where something like an unusually respectful cocktail party might be about to break out — is in response to a question Church of the Resurrection's leaders asked themselves: If you lived downtown, what would your ideal church look like? The answer continues to woo those who never thought church could be cool.