I feel like Perry Noble!
If you live in the Upstate of SC and have never heard of Perry Noble, eventually you will. Perry is the Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson "Electric City" SC. Perry started NewSpring church in the year 2000. As of 2007 they are running over 8000 people. It is one of the fastest growing churches in America. They are reaching hundreds of people for Christ ever year. He is so passionate about reaching people for Christ he's had people write the names of those they want to see come to know Jesus on the walls of their worship center. Try doing that at your local church and see how well that goes over with the building and grounds committee!
Anyway, Perry has a blog I read weekly (PerryNoble.com). He shares that he has received all kinds of criticism and the rumors flying around town about him and NewSpring church border on insane. There are even anti-Perry Noble websites out there from what I've heard. Anyway, I am learning this about ministry. You will have your critics, and the sad thing about it is it usually comes from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have been sheltered from criticism about our church over the last 3 years. Yes, I've heard a few things here and there, but nothing major. However, I got an email this week from a wonderful lady in our church who shared with me about criticism others have directed to her about our church. She said when she's asked about where she goes to church and tells them Ridgeview, the response is, usually from a couple of Pastors, "Well, that's great if all you want to do is show up on Sunday mornings and nothing else." They also say, "I hear they do things differently over there." Wow, I feel like Perry Noble now! Ha!
Here's the deal: Ridgeview Church has a purpose. That purpose is simply this: "To be a bridge of God's love to all people so they can experience His purpose for their lives." Our major thrust is evangelism with the goal of helping people experience God's purpose of coming to know Him personally, grow in their faith, serve Him, worship Him, and go back out into their community and be that same bridge of God's love to others. We meet for corporate worship on Sunday mornings. We have Bible study Home groups that meet during the week; mostly on Sunday nights. We have a first Saturday of service every month where we are out in the community sharing the love of Christ in real practical ways. This year already we've gone to the Palmetto Boys shelter, hosted a Superbowl Sunday, conducted a 3 on 3 basketball tournament and clinic, and in a few weeks will hold a community Easter Egg hunt in our community that has grown every year. This year will be even bigger! At all of these events we've rubbed shoulders with people who need to know Jesus Christ.
Some people just don't get us. It's not about coming together for meetings all the time in the church building. I want us out in the community. Those who accuse us of just having a Sunday morning worship time and that's all are sorely misguided. In fact, we ask more commitment from our people at Ridgeview than many other churches. How many other churches in our community have to set up everything in a school and then take it down after they are done on Sunday morning?
Finally, let me say this. 60% of our county is unchurched. 80 to 85% of churches are plateued or declining. They say the seven last words of a dying church is "we've never done it that way before." So, God help us. We need to do things differently. People are dying and going to a Christless eternity. Oh, by the way, as I'm typing this I just got a phone call from a lady we helped at our single mom's oil change a year ago. She's in trouble right now and our church is one of the first places she's called. Time to go; ministry calls. I like the way we're doing church around here. We're going to continue to meet needs, heal hurts, and share Jesus.