Leaving a spiritual-based legacy — in more ways than one — is the core mission of a new church that celebrated its first service Sunday in Menomonee Falls.
The church, appropriately named Legacy Christian Church, welcomed 319 people to its first service in the auditorium on Sunday. The number of faces in the crowd was a prayer answered for Lead Pastor Jerod Walker, who began the process of founding the church in January.
“You do a lot of things before you’re first service to create awareness, but there’s no formula gauging how many people would show up. It was a leap of faith,” Walker said. “We were ecstatic about the first service, and the feedback has been very positive.”
Legacy is a non-denominational Christian church that pegs itself as “a different way to do church.” The atmosphere is casual, a five-piece band replaces the traditional organ, and Walker delivers his message in jeans and an untucked shirt. In fact, the first thing the church asks of people who come to a service is to relax.
Putting real-world experience behind faith
Before founding Legacy, Walker was the children’s and family pastor at Central Christian Church in Beloit. Pastor Ben Davis, at River Glen Church in Waukesha, contacted Walker and said the church had a goal to plant five new churches in the metro Milwaukee area in the next 10 years. He chose Walker to plant the first one.
The only guidance Walker was given was to start a church in the Milwaukee area. That's it. Everything else was up to him. So on Jan. 1, Walker began the process of building a church from the ground up. The experience was invaluable to building his faith.
“This experience has given me the opportunity to live out some of the things I have always preached, which is to take a leap of faith,” Walker said. “Founding the church was my biggest step of faith, and now I have lived taking that step.”
It’s been a busy year for Walker. On top of opening the church, he also is a busy family man. Walker has been married for 14 years, and is raising a family of five children — ranging in age from 3 to 11.
And for Walker, building the church has been the fulfillment of a calling he has had since he was in high school, where counselors told him he would be a great computer technician or engineer.
“I was in high school and trying to decide on a career to pursue,” Walker said. “But when I started touring colleges and seeing the career path I would travel, I knew I would never be fully satisfied if I chose that path. That’s when I knew God had called me to the ministry.”
Although Walker lists his hometown as LaHarpe, IL, he grew up in a military family and moved around the country frequently. In his travels with his family, he also gained a liberal background in different churches. Walker said at some point in his life his family attended services in Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Mormon denominations.
“This last Sunday we had a lot of different people attend from a variety of church backgrounds,” Walker said. “My experience with the different denominations allows me to answer many of their questions because I had some of the same questions as I was growing up.”
Leaving a legacy
Walker said he has a goal of leaving a legacy on three different fronts that all extend beyond the four walls of the church. He said that want to leave a lasting legacy with the community, future generations and extend a legacy globally.
Before the first service was even held, members of Legacy were already active in community service projects. They helped the Village of Menomonee Falls with a cleanup effort at the industrial park, and gathered 50 grocery bags of food to donate to the .
Even the decision to locate their church at the high school was driven by the focus on leaving a legacy.
“We looked at holding services in theaters and hotels, but then your rent money is going into larger corporate coffers, in a sense,” Walker said. “But by paying our rent to the school district, that money will directly benefit education here locally.”
At the first service, 45 percent of the offering went toward an activity resource fund with the school district. The money helps under-resourced children afford the fees and equipment to play in sports or other extracurricular activities in the district.
And the focus on the next generation is also evident in the church's leadership team. Matt Berry, Legacy’s children’s and outreach director, and Austin Auberg, worship and creative arts director, are both in their mid-20s. Walker himself is just 35 years old.
Legacy also donates 5 percent of every offering to planting new churches, and funding missions across the nation and the state.
“We believe in leaving a global legacy as well. We believe that all people are important to God, and have an impact in this world that stretched beyond the borders of Menomonee Falls,” Walker said.
Legacy holds services at 10 a.m. every Sunday in the auditorium, and services last about 65 minutes.