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Crossroads Church's sights set far

Crossroads Church holds the grand opening of its new $11 million building at 5900 Woodbury Drive in Woodbury this weekend, but the church already has bigger things in mind.

Not size-wise, but it has big ideas of expanding through satellite campuses in other parts of the metro.

"There's a real movement of these satellite campuses at churches that are larger -- kind of like what Starbucks does, it's a franchise," said the church's senior pastor Phil Print. "We figure if something is working in one place it might work somewhere else."

The church hired a worship pastor and campus pastor to serve its Eagan campus, which it took over in late September, and weekly services are virtually identical. The same sermon and music are delivered each week, but through different people.

In the month since Crossroads took over, the church attendance tripled.

Print said the church is considering opening another location in St. Paul's Grand Avenue area in the next 12 months. Quite a few people who attend its Sunday evening service, called Sanctuary, come from that area, he said.

"Instead of buying these big monster $11 million buildings, we'd rather maybe find churches that are struggling or even churches that are closed down and their building's still sitting there and then spin a campus off in that area," Print said.

That's not to take away from the role of the church's new building, though. At the church's previous spot on Jamaica Avenue and 80th Street in Cottage Grove, there was no room for the youth to meet at the same location -- they had been meeting at a renovated barn near Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park.

Now, for the first time in five years, junior high and high school students have their own space in the same building. The old sanctuary had 375 chairs, compared with 900 in the new one, Print said.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that a coffee and seating area now beckons people to hang around before and after church services and talk with each other.

"We don't have to kick people out now after the service because we need the parking place," Print said. "They can sit around the fireplace and drink coffee and talk to other people and get acquainted."

Heather Simon, whose family has attended Crossroads for almost 10 years, said the surroundings are so comfortable in the new building, she loses track of time when she's there.

"When I first walked in, what I saw were people socializing and laughing -- it was high- energy," Simon said. "It was a place you weren't wanting to run out of real quick. It's warm."

Crossroads Church has grown steadily since Print started working there in 1992, from around 100 people to a couple thousand per weekend, he said. With the new building, it is definitely poised for more growth, but Print said the goal has never been to become a "megachurch."

"Our goal is just to do what we do, do it well, when people gather on the weekend make the experience something where they encounter God and have a plan for bringing them someplace where they can mature," Print said. "We built this building so we could have more space so more people could come in and find out who God is and find out that he loves them."