Bella Eden church is breaking traditional norms at Spider House

Mackenzie Palmer

A typical visit to Spider House Cafe usually includes slam poetry, open mics or local bands, but Sunday afternoon, the sounds of worship ring through the coffee shop and bar.

Husband and wife Chris and Crystaline Lopez founded the Bella Eden church in January 2013 after previously holding sermons in their apartment. They hold an open church service in the Spider House Ballroom at 1 p.m. Sundays. 

Bella Eden is a Christian-based congregation of about 50 members that preaches the importance of an inclusive community.

Callen and Stephen Husband said they have been attending the church for a year and a half and feel right at home. 

“I loved the space and the people so much,” Callen said. “Chris and Crystaline even married us in the ballroom at Spider House on a church Sunday.”  

With Bella Eden, the Lopezes said they wanted to break away from traditional church norms and create a community that focuses on building authentic relationships. 

“We’re not here to build a brand or even our name,” Crystaline said. ”We genuinely want authentic, organic relationships to be formed within the community and with God.”

Bella Eden recently added a new element to its main service called “Love Feast.” On the first and third Sundays of each month, the church offers food to those who attend. Crystaline said the best way to build healthier relationships is by inviting people to dine.

The couple plan to make “Love Feast” a weekly part of the service.  

“We want to have the normal staples of church: worship and preaching,” Chris said. “But we want to experiment and figure out where you build community.” 

The couple said their location on Guadalupe Street is exactly where they need to be. 

“We want to build [a] healthy community with college students,” Crystaline said. 

The Lopezes said they use their mutual passion for music to worship. They both have musical backgrounds and are in a worship band together that plays at nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters.

Chris said he likes to write original songs. He encourages others to not be weighed down by the music already out there.

“We want the church community in Austin actually singing Austin’s songs,” Crystaline said, “There is a sound from Austin that can be heard too.”

Ultimately, the couple said they want the church to add to their members lives.

“We don’t want you to cater your life around what we’re doing at church,” Crystaline said. “If you are connected to our community, we genuinely want you just to flourish in who God created you to be. Your dreams, your passions — that’s where we want your time to go.”