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CURRENT SERIES: Chances are good you’ve heard the Christmas story.  You know it involves a manger, some angels and sheep, and of course, the drummer boy.

But while the iconic characters may be familiar, it’s easy for the deeper themes and promises of Christmas to get lost in the chaos of the season.

And so this Advent — instead of adding more glitz, glamour and noise — we’re choosing simplicity and consistency.  We want to carve out the space needed for our hearts to be able to hear again the depth and beauty of that first Christmas.

Towards that endeavor, we are committing ourselves to read the Bible every day of Advent — following the lectionary.  Our hope is that this ancient and widely used way of reading the Bible (millions of Christians every week use the lectionary) will keep us rooted in the preparation, hope, joy, and love of Christmas.

For a link to a lectionary, click here.

We hope you’ll join us this Advent.

Want to get to know us better?  Click around … you’ll see what we’re all about.


location-bricksThe Branch gathers every Sunday morning at 11:00 AM.

973 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids

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We Heart GR

we-heart-grWe believe that God calls all his followers to be missional.  God desires us to look around and love the people we see.  Since our zip code is 49508, we are looking around Grand Rapids and loving its people.

Our mission plays out in many scenarios.  It’s as basic as feeding the homeless and as organized as running an art camp for kids.  It includes neighborhood barbecues and teacher appreciation nights for Alger Middle School.  The experience varies, but the motivation is constant:  we want to see our city transformed by the love of Jesus.

To learn about how we’re serving our neighborhood and city, click here.

Sunday Morning


Sundays — 11AM

The Branch is committed to knowing God better and loving others more.  We believe, wholeheartedly, that gathering together can be transformational.  Group worship offers an unique opportunity to live into the body of Christ.  Sunday morning isn’t everything, but it is a cherished experience at the Branch.

We worship with rhythm and flexibility.  We approach God with expectancy and questions.  Our community is authentic and interested.

We look for God through teaching, music, art, film, design and food.  We seek God in weekly communion, and we respond to God with our hands, our mouths, and our feet.  Our people love creativity.

Worshippers at the Branch are invited to participate.  However, there is always space to sit and watch.  Our style is relaxed and intentional.  Come in jeans or your favorite dress.  But, definitely drink coffee.

Interested in when and where?  CLICK HERE FOR A MAP.

The Team

From the beginning, the Branch has been relational.  College roommates became copastors.  Church planters formed out of small groups.  Church bodies agreed to be “mothers” and “sisters.”  It’s natural that our leadership is team focused.  Together, we celebrate our different strengths and our need for each other.

Our staff is made up of individuals who serve as point people for the rest of us.  They will lead, design, and dream – but not by themselves.    And, definitely not without coffee.  Meet them.

Andy Dragt (andy@thebranchonline.org)

andy-webThere is just no simple way to sum this guy up.  You name it, Andy’s done it.  Or, at least he’s googled it.

Andy is usually sitting in front of his Mac or squinting behind his camera.  He is often barefoot.  He knows the Grand Rapids bus lines as well as anyone.  Looking for a good, local restaurant in GR?  Ask Andy.

As a Branch co-pastor, Andy leads in areas of mission and culture.  He helps us ask “what should we be doing?” and “how do we engage those around us?”  On Sunday mornings, Andy might be preaching, running a video, or holding a baby.  He prefers not to sing into a microphone.  But, yes, he does love a good cup of coffee.

Andy has been married to his wife, Gina, for 13 years.  They have 2 daughters, Haeli and Maya.  When not serving the Branch, Andy is running his video and web design business.

Chris DeBlaay (chris@thebranchonline.org)

chris-webChris’ life is defined by the days of the week.  On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays he is a wellness guru, helping people live better, fuller lives.  Some evenings and afternoons he is a stay-at-home-dad, fulfilling his role in the school car-pool, while not forgetting to pick up milk.  On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays he is a branch co-pastor.  With such a complex schedule, you might imagine Chris has the ability to create excellent Excel spreadsheets.  You wouldn’t be wrong.

As a Branch co-pastor, Chris leads in areas of community and transformation.  He helps us ask “with whom are you connected?” and “is Jesus more obvious in your life today than he was yesterday?”   On Sunday mornings, Chris might be preaching, playing his guitar, or teaching a kids’ class.

Chris has been married to his wife, Bethany, for 11 years. They have 4 children: Raya, Zeke, JP, and Ruby.  When not serving the Branch, Chris is … oh yeah, you already read that stuff.  What you don’t know?  He manages it all with a double-tall, white chocolate mocha in his hand.

Nate Winkleman (nate@thebranchonline.org)

Profile: Love God, Love my beautiful wife Elizabeth, Love my two crazy cool boys Ammon and Eli. Son of Robert and Carol.  Friend to people, enemy to all super villains. Creative arts and worship at the Branch..

Experience: I was raised by wolves till the age 5.  I was abducted by aliens till the age of 10.  Trained by ninjas till the age of 21.  Now I do art & music stuff for churches.

Education: I watched the Discovery Channel once, and Sesame Street as much as possible.  I have a doctorate in groove.  Central Michigan is a cool place. They gave me pieces of paper to say I am smart.

Skills: I can curl my tongue.  I can also lift a lot of weight.

Referrals: My mom can vouch for me.  Andy and Chris like me.


If you find community at the Branch, we invite you to become a Partner.  Partners make a year long commitment to intentionally live out the Branch values together.  It’s that simple.  No dues to pay or vows to take.  No special outfits to wear or fancy perks to receive.  Partners simply decide to lock arms and love others in the way of Jesus.


We identify a few individuals at the Branch as Stewards.  These leaders offer their time, discernment and skills to the Branch to care for its people and its resources.  The Stewards are always up for conversation about the Branch.  Contact any one of them if you have questions or a need: stewards@thebranchonline.org


small-group-picJesus definitely thought community was important.  He included his friends throughout his ministry: they traveled together, ate together, and served together.  Like Jesus, we prioritize togetherness in everything we do.  The Branch is led through community, worships in community, and serves a community.

People at the Branch love to be together.  Some like to join groups who follow a planned schedule and have a defined purpose.  Others gravitate to spontaneous gatherings which form out of shared hunger (“who wants to get pizza after church?”) or hobbies (“anybody want to go for a run?”).  Click on the links below to find out where you fit.


Meal Night

Small Groups


branchkidsGod has hopes and dreams for the future of every child.  Which is why we gather kids every Sunday and invite them to learn about their God; to live into the story of redemption; to experience the joy of community; to learn, laugh and play.

Sprouts: Birth – 24mos

Sprouts: 2year – 3year

Buds: 4 – 1st Grade

Twigs: 2nd – 5th Grade

Got questions before you come?  Wondering how you can help make an impact? E-mail mindy@thebranchonline.org

Parents: we are in the process of registering all children as a new school year begins.  Please click here to complete the registration form.