Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What a great year in the life of Ridgeview Church! We baptized thirteen, gave over several thousand dollars to international missions, and continued to go about "bridging" in our community! It was great to cap off the last service of the year at the red barn where 300 people came to our Community Christmas eve service. It has been a great year!

I am so pumped about 2011! I look forward to our church wide time of prayer and fasting as we begin "Awakening" on January 9. We saw God move in our church this past year because of our obedience to the biblical practice of fasting. I can't wait to see what He does in 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Pictured above is our first Christmas Eve service in the red barn back in 2005. In the beginning stages of Ridgeview Church, I spent considerable time crafting our church's purpose statement. I have asked several people from time to time at Ridgeview to repeat it after me. They usually start out strong and then taper at the end: "Seeking to be a bridge of God's love..." I then say, "so that they may experience His purpose for their lives." I recently read a book that said if you can boil down your organization's existence to a few words or just one word, it will be far more memorable. The more I thought about Ridgeview the more the word "bridging" kept coming to mind.

Everything we do at Ridgeview is about "bridging" people to Jesus who is the bridge to God. 1 Peter 3:18 states, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." Once we bridge them to Jesus we want to provide bridges of growth and service and give them opportunities to continue bridging out to others and do for others what was done for them.

I am proud of our church and how we've tried to maintain a bridging focus over these last 7 years. I have made a renewed commitment to step up our bridging efforts. It's called the Bridge 200 initiative. As Pastor, I have made a commitment to make 200 touches in our community each week myself. It's been said if you want to measure the temperature of a church, put a thermometer in the Pastor's mouth. I am excited about possibilities of what can happen in our community, in our church, and in our own lives if we make 200 bridge touches of God's love with people. We will not be the same!

We are already seeing fruit in our church because of the seeds we planting. Allow me to share some examples just from this week:

*9 kids came to Christ in our Good News Club.
*13 bridging with bread visits were made Monday night.
*13 stick signs were placed by Ridgeview volunteers in our community this week advertising our Community Christmas eve service.
*Over 300 Christmas eve invite door hangers were delivered to homes in our community.
*By Friday at 8:30 am we will have served hundreds of parents free coffee as they dropped their kids off at school.
*By Sunday after church we will have baptized at least 3 people! (13 for the year!)

I am so encouraged by the comments left on our Connection Cards this week on how our people are bridging:

"Gave a Ridgeview card and a tip to a lady at the drive through Friday."
"Shared my lunch with a co-worker."
"Met a hispanic lady whose husband had left her and she needed a twin bed. Texted my Growth Group and we are gathering items for her."
"Prayed with a lady that works at AT&T store who is suffering from depression."

In this newsletter there are some great opportunities to go about the task of "bridging." Jesus commands we go and bridge (Matthew 28:19-20). I am so blessed to partner alongside you this Christmas season in this most noble duty of bridging!

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Bridging

If there is ever a season to seize the moments to show God's love to others it is during the Christmas season. It seems as though God just opens up the airwaves to his love and kindness during this time of year.

So, what can you do this season? Here are some quick ideas I have and some I gathered from

1) Invite them to our Community Christmas Eve Service
The photo above is the backside of the direct mail piece we're sending out to thousands in our community. We're providing air support for you as you invite those you know to this wonderful bridging event!

2) Bring Christmas goodies to your neighbors
It's a great conversation starter and can provide opening opportunities to tell your Jesus story.

3) Buy a Coke or candy bar for the cashier checking you out
People working cash registers around the holidays have a very high demand, low reward job. Surprise them by kindness and generosity.

4) Give 30% tip to your server
While you're out enjoying your shopping and enjoying your day, your waiter or waittress is working serving you. These are people that are so easily overlooked this time of year. A big tip is the perfect way to show them that God is a God who notices people.

5) See what God would say to you about you giving above and beyond in your time, talent, and treasure
Our annual Christmas missions offering is in full gear. We also have some great bridging opportunities available as a church (see the Bridge section). There are also opportunities in our community organizations to lend a hand as well.

6) Treat a coworker to lunch- boys with boys and girls with girls, please!

7) Take a poinsettia to work for your boss- if you are the boss, get one for your receptionist.

8) Take some Christmas goodies to the place you frequent
Every Monday I go to Moe's to eat after staff meeting. Last Monday my server Brian knew exactly what I wanted and what I wanted on it. (Joey bag of donuts!) Most likely these people "know you" even if you have never spoken to them before. This is a great way to break the ice and start having an actual relationship with them, even if it is just a small one.

Whatever you do this season, make sure that the people you serve know that God loves them. After all, the point of the season is, "For God so loved the world...that He gave His only Son."

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Our Largest Attended Worship Service Each Year Is Held In A Cold, Drafty Barn!

Five or six years ago I drove by the red dutch barn on Gap Creek road and the thought hit me, "That would be a unique place to have a Christmas Eve service." That first year at the barn Jennifer White and myself put the service together. We had around 100 people show up. The rest is history: In 2006, we had 400 people. In 2007, we had 381 people. In 2008, we had 472 people. Last year we dropped a bit but still had 237 people.

Now, I know a great thing when I see it! It turns out the Christmas Eve service at the red dutch barn has been a great way to bridge out to our community with the love of Jesus. It's one of our most effective events. Each year, the gospel is clearly explained and we share the real meaning of Christmas. This year I am praying our Community Christmas Eve services are the biggest we've ever had. Why? Because I want people to hear about Jesus! I am praying 500 to 600 people come this year. In order to see that happen, we must do several things:

1) Pray for our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers; pray for our community that they would be receptive to an invite to the service.

2) Invite them!
We are sending a direct mail piece to over 15,000 homes in the area. We are also making 200 personal visits a week leading up to Christmas eve. We are running an ad in the Greer Citizen and will be putting stick signs in the community. All that is great but none is as effective as you personally inviting someone you know!

3) Volunteer
We have numerous teams that you can be a part of: parking, photography, greeting & registration, set-up, take-down, ushers, refreshments, media and sound. Much help is needed to pull this event off. Every job is important! Did you know by serving on the parking team you will assist a family in finding a parking space. They in turn will come to the service and will hear the gospel and respond and find a church home at Ridgeview. You had a part in changing a family's legacy by serving on the parking team. Each volunteer position is part of the chain in bridging people to Jesus.

There will be two Christmas Eve services at 6:00 pm & 8:00 pm. May we all be part of praying, inviting, and volunteering for this event. I believe there is no more important investment of your time this Christmas season.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend at Ridgeview

I always look forward to Thanksgiving weekend at Ridgeview! We've used this weekend to do something once a year: a Thanksgiving brunch/worship service. We will have the morning worship at the same time (10:30 a.m.) in the Blue Ridge High cafeteria. You are encouraged to bring a food item to share "potluck style." If you are unable to bring anything, please come anyway. We will have plenty of food! Paper products and beverages will be provided. There will be a time of worship music, a Thanksgiving message from C.J. Cauble, along with the lighting of the Advent Candle and partaking of the Lord's Supper. There will be no Ridgekidz (elementary); we will provide a space with a tv/dvd player for preschool parents to take their kids if they get a bit antsy.

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Eve Service @ Red Barn

Ridgeview Church will again have its Christmas eve service at the Red Dutch Barn off of hwy 101 & W. Gap Creek Rd. This is one of our biggest community bridge events we do all year. We will culminate our Christmas message series Christmas eve entitled "The Gospel." I will be sharing with as much clarity as I possibly can on what is the Gospel and will offer an invitation for many to accept the Jesus we sing about and celebrate during Christmas.

Much work is to be done in preparation for this event. The most important thing we must do is to bathe this in prayer. Second only to that is to invite our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who need a church home and/or need Jesus. I would like to ask you now to begin praying for this evening- that many would experience the salvation Jesus offers. Also, this will not happen without our volunteer teams. We will need a picture team to take pics of families, a parking team, a greeting and registration team, a set up/take down team, a refreshment team, a media team, along with an usher team. We will get more information on all the details of these teams soon. I look forward to this day!

Tommy Hargrove
864 630 9459

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How To Have A "Radical" Thanksgiving

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only two weeks away? It's one of my favorite days of the year! As I've been thinking about the upcoming holidays and in light of the Radical series we've experienced, I wanted to throw some ideas your way I recently discovered.

How to have a Radical Thanksgiving for individuals & families

*Fast and pray for those who don't have enough to eat
Did you know that according to the United Nations, over 5 million child deaths occur each year due to starvation. How about on or around Thanksgiving this year, spend a day in fasting and prayer for the world's hungry.

*Discover what the Bible says about thankfulness to God.
The Bible is full of references to thankfulness towards God. Grab a concordance, topical Bible, or online reference tool like and look up verses about thankfulness in the Bible. Choose one passage that seems relevant to your family. Meditate on it. Memorize it as a family. Think about what it would mean to live it out, and then act on that understanding.

*Give a secret gift of money to someone you know.
In tough economic times like these, you probably have several friends and acquaintances who are hurting financially this Thanksgiving. Maybe your finances aren't great either. But if possible, pick at least one person who would be encouraged by a gift of money. Send whatever cash you can afford to this person, along with an anonymous note of encouragement.

*Invite an international visitor to your Thanksgiving dinner.
The United States is one of only two countries to celebrate Thanksgiving (the other is Canada). Think of a newcomer to our country-perhaps an international student, whom you could invite to share your Thanksgiving celebration this year. Prepare to share with your guest(s) the history and meaning of the day. More importantly, share with this person what you are personally thankful to God for.
*I would recommend calling Joshua's Way Ministry in Greer (801-4804) and asking for Florine Palaghia. He works with their Cross Culture Network and knows international students from the colleges and universities in our area.

*Comfort a hurting brother or sister in Christ.
Think about people in our church who might feel as if they don't have much to be thankful for this season. The Bible says we are to weep with those who weep. Don't feel like you have to fix anyone's problem, or perhaps say anything at all. But give encouragement, a listening ear, and best of all, your presence.

These are some great ideas as we approach the Thanksgiving holidays! Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
(P.S. Don't forget to bring your Operation Christmas Child shoebox for our collection day this Sunday.)

Seeking to live radically for Him,

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Leaders Who Last Message Series Begins Sunday, November 7

The old maxim is true, "Leadership is influence." Everyone is a leader in some area because of their influence over someone whether it be a parent, a teacher, a coach, a friend, or a supervisor. But how are we leading in the marathon race of life? We have all seen runners running alongside us who have stumbled, burned out, or veered off the track. That may have even happened to you at one time or the other. It is not automatic that a leader finishes well. How do we finish well? Leaders Who Last message series will show you how to finish well based upon God's Word so you may hear from Jesus as you cross the finish line, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Radical: Where do we go from here?

This Sunday we finish our Radical message series but the journey is just beginning. The words Jesus spoke concerning the rich young ruler are haunting because they apply to me. "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God...It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23 & 25)."
Will we choose short term treasures we can't keep or long term treasures we can't lose? If we are willing to choose the latter, then let's not miss this Sunday as I share practical ways we can lay our treasure in heaven by meeting the needs of the poor and the lost. It will be a powerful day!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What a privilege it was to co-teach with Milo Wilson Sunday. It was a God-honoring day and I am grateful for the many of you who came and expressed your love and appreciation to the Wilson family in their last day with us. The fellowship reception after church was delightful! I was also proud of the willing servants who showed up Sunday afternoon to help them move. Ridgeview is a giving church!

This week you will be receiving your Ridgeview financial contribution statements for the quarter. As we looked at the story last Sunday of Jesus and the rich young ruler, let me remind us all of the take-aways from the message.

1) Our use of money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition.
2) Our use of money is a sure indicator of our future eternal destination.

When Jesus commanded the rich young man to sell everything he had and give to the poor, it says in Mark 10:22, "At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth." As I shared Sunday, the rich young man's eyes were blind. He suffered from the sin of affluenza. His face was sad. Little did he know the real treasure he was walking away from. His hands were full. He had great wealth and he wasn't willing to release his grip on things.

Fleeing from our grip on money & possessions is what Christ is calling us out from. Radical abandonment for Christ is what He is calling us to. He alone brings us ultimate joy in life. The love of money and possessions will simply rob us of that joy. Don't let your joy be robbed this week!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best wishes Milo, Erin, Daylia, & Hazyl Wilson!

1) This is a trustworthy saying: "If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position." 2) So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3) He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4) He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5) For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church? 6) An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. 7) Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil's trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 NLT

This Sunday will be the last Sunday Milo, Erin, Daylia, and Hazyl will be with us at Ridgeview. We have had quite a ride in ministry together! I have enjoyed working with both Milo and Erin as church staff members at Ridgeview. We have been a team; we have had a great partnership. When I was part of Milo's ordination, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is the Scripture passage we looked at for qualifications as a Pastor. His character and integrity as a minister has served our church well and brought honor and glory to Jesus Christ. I look forward to hearing how God will use their family in Bulffalo, New York to be a bridge of His love to a heavily lost population.

I would like to invite you to attend our morning worship service this Sunday as we commission the Wilson family to go make disciples in Buffalo. I would also like to invite you to bring your favorite dish for an after church potluck reception in their honor at Blue Ridge Baptist Church. There will be a money tree at the reception for you to give financially to their family. I know it will certainly help them as they incur moving expenses.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday. It will be a special day!

Tommy Hargrove

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sticky Teams

I just finished this great book by Larry Osborne. It is loaded with
tons of practical advice in leading a church. One thing that struck me
in the opening pages of the book was the warning about church unity.
He states that a unified & healthy leadership team doesn't just
happen. It must be a priority. He spent two years focusing almost
solely on building a cohesive leadership team. That's one area I am
looking to improve upon in the coming months at Ridgeview. If anyone
knows of some good resources, especially in the arena of Biblical
Church Leadership (i.e. Elders based) and some sample bylaws, I'd sure
appreciate it!

Tommy Hargrove
864 630 9459

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Gospel Demands Radical Urgency- Sunday morning extension

I wanted to follow up from the message I preached Sunday on the radical urgency we must have in sharing the Gospel. I recently read a book by Mark Dever entitled, 9 Marks Of A Healthy Church. There are several insights he shares in his book that are helpful to us in the "Radical" series we are in.
First of all, in sharing the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must remember it is not about simply telling people they must live right. In sharing the Gospel with someone you are calling them to repent of their sins and rely on Christ alone to save them. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, "Repent and believe the good news!" There are many things we do that we chalk up as evangelism that are not evangelism. They build bridges for evangelism to occur. But, simply doing an act of kindness for someone is not evangelism. We must open our mouths and share the Gospel for evangelism to take place.
Secondly, how radically urgent are we to share the Gospel with people? Mark Dever makes several important points in the way we share:
1) Tell people with honesty that if they repent and believe they will be saved- but it will be costly.
We must share the truth and the whole truth with them- not holding back parts that we think will offend them.
2) Tell people with urgency that if they repent and believe they will be saved- but they must decide now.
They must not wait for a better deal to come along. There is no better deal.
3) Tell people with joy that if they repent and believe the good news they will be saved. However difficult it may be, it is all worth it!
What do we gain in coming to Christ? A relationship with God, forgiveness, meaning, purpose, freedom, community, certainty, and hope. Being honest with the difficulties doesn't mean we mask the blessings.
4) Use the Bible!
We must show we are not using our words and ideas but the words and wisdom from God.
5) Realize the lives of individual Christians and of the church as a whole are a central part of evangelism.
Our lives should give credibility to the Gospel we proclaim. This is one of the reasons why we should be involved in the life of the church and why church membership is important.
6. Remember to pray.
The Adversary does not want you sharing this radical message to others. He will do things to stop you. You must bathe your radical urgency with prayer.
 I have been convicted in my own life I must turn up the heat in my urgency to get the Gospel message to everyone in this community. There are changes I made in my life this week to do just that. I pray you would do the same!
Commissioning Service & Reception For Milo Wilson Family
Please make plans to attend the commissioning service and reception for Milo & Erin Wilson and their family next Sunday, October 17. It will be their last Sunday with us. We will commission them in the morning worship service as they head to Buffalo, New York to work with The Well Church, a new church plant. We will have a potluck reception immediately following the morning worship service at Blue Ridge Baptist in their fellowship hall. The church will provide the soft drinks and paper products. You are encouraged to bring monetary gifts to place on a "money tree" that will be at the reception. We look forward to blessing them as they embark upon their new ministry opportunity.
Pastor Tommy

Tommy Hargrove
864 630 9459

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


 Radically Concerned For The Lost
Last Sunday I challenged those in our worship service to write on the back of their Connection Card one thing they could do to reach out to the lost around them this week. It was great to read the responses such as: tell my boss God loves him, spend time with my unsaved family members, write a letter to my family member, take food to my neighbors and sit with them, fast and pray, and take gift boxes to the kids at the elementary school.
Each week we have divine appointments and opportunities to share with people about the love of God in His Son Jesus Christ. This week I've personally made some visits to people in our community and will be sharing with 80 kids at the Good News Club and speaking at Greer High's FCA. Yes, I'm a Pastor; I should be doing those things. But you are a missionary to the school you attend, the office where you work, the people in your cul-de-sac, and to your family members. You have incredible opportunities to build bridges in those places that no Pastor could ever replace. You are God's ambassadors! I look forward to hearing some stories this week of how you've been on mission.
Radically Generous Send-Off For Milo Wilson Family  
Please mark your calendars for Sunday, October 17. It will be a special day as we commission Milo, Erin, Daylia, & Hazyl Wilson to go to Buffalo, New York and be a bridge of God's love through the efforts of church planting. After the morning worship service, Blue Ridge Baptist has graciously allowed us to use their fellowship hall. We will have a reception there and allow everyone time to express their love and appreciation to the Wilson family. We also will have a money tree where you can give financially and bless them as they incur expenses in moving up to Buffalo. If you will be unable to attend but would like to give a financial gift, you can send it to Ridgeview Church, PO Box 1077, Taylors, SC 29687. Please mark it as  "Milo Wilson Gift."
Jenny Dunster To Step Into Role As Interim Worship Leader
We have asked Jenny Dunster to lead our worship team after Milo's departure in the interim period. Please pray for her and the team as they lead us in worship through music. They do an incredible job and I appreciate the musical talent they have!
Come help us Paint the Stage @ Blue Ridge High School!
I'm looking forward to bridging out to Blue Ridge High school Saturday morning by painting their auditorium stage. We use this stage every week and it's a great way to let the school we appreciate what they allow us to do. We are in need of some more volunteers. This is a great opportunity to help model for your kids a practical way to serve- so, your kids are welcome!
Hope to see you then!

Tommy Hargrove
864 630 9459

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What does success look like for us as a church?

I have been challenged recently with the question: What is the mark of a successful church? What does success look like for us at Ridgeview? Every person, family, team, & organization, etc. has a scorecard for success. For sports teams it is to outscore the opponent, or in golf, underscore the opponent. It may be making sales quotas, having kids pass the PACT tests & making good grades, or a good home & social life. For churches, we are measured by the big three: nickels, noses, and numbers or bodies/baptisms, buildings, and budgets. The most common question I'm asked by those outside our church is, "How many are you running?"
Having grown up in a large Southern Baptist Church and having attended some of the largest churches in the America while a student in Texas, I've seen large. I've enjoyed being part of something large like a church. There is an energy that can come from large crowds in a church. Also, there are many resources a large church can use to make an impact for the Kingdom. However, if I'm not careful I can keep score only to realize I'm measuring the wrong things. For example, I like to play golf. I will take a few practice swings before taking a real whack at the ball. I don't write on my scorecard at the end of the round how many practice swings I made. I don't consider it a win if I made more practice swings than my playing partner. I measure how many strokes it took me to get the ball in the hole and if that number is better than my playing partner, I win. That is success!
Jesus Christ gave us a scorecard upon which to measure the success of Ridgeview Church. It says nothing about how many people we have attending or how big our budget is or how many our auditorium seats we have. Jesus says the measure of success for a church is the Great Commission. We find it in Matthew 28:19-20. It says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." When He returns He will measure the success of our church on how well we implemented that commission.
Inherent in the commands of the Great Commission is that of making disciples. That is our scorecard. In fact, even more specifically, success is making disciples who make disciples. At Ridgeview, we are intentional about making disciples. We believe disciples are made in community with other believers. We believe our Growth Groups are huge tools in the disciple making process. We have seen life-change this year as people have been part of a Growth Group.
We want to grow as a church numerically but that can't be the only indication of a win for us. We want to make disciples. Let's measure how many people we have in Growth Groups and how many people are growing in their faith, serving in their faith, and sharing their faith. I believe that is the kind of measuring God wants us to do. When we are doing those things, God will give the increase.

Tommy Hargrove
864 630 9459

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just a few thoughts...

*Radical message Sunday was tough to preach but challenging to us all. Encouraged by the postive feedback!
*Points from message Sunday that I can't shake: 1) Do we believe this book (the Bible)? 2) Do we believe what it says about the church? 3) Do we believe what it says about the lost? 4) Do we believe what it says about the poor? It's time to get radical!
*Growth Groups have gotten off to a great start! We've sold out of the Lifejournals but more are on their way!
*Worship team did a wonderful job these last two weeks. Great job Jenny & team!
*So proud of our folks taking tickets at the Blue Ridge High Varsity football game!
*Interview this week with a potential part-time student minister. He will meet with Advisory team along with some parents of kids in our Ridgestudents. Your prayers are appreciated!
*Convinced we must change the scorecard to "How many are we running?" to "How many are we sending out each week?" Convinced we must do more sending out each week!
*Good News Club starts Thursday at Mtn View Elementary. Over 90 kids enrolled: 50% have no church home. Incredible opportunity!

See you Sunday!

I am excited about our upcoming Fall Growth Group semester! Every semester we see people growing in their faith, connecting with one another in community, and serving their community in the name of Christ. I believe this Fall Growth Group semester will be one of our best! Based upon the best-selling book, "Radical: Taking Your Faith Back From The American Dream," we will be challenged to obey and follow Christ wherever He leads. Each week I will preach a message based on the words of Christ in the areas of radical living. The Growth Groups will meet throughout the week and will explore more deeply the Scripture passages and message notes. The Radical Workbooks will be used to emphasize key points and will have discussion questions. Life Journals will also be provided to encourage Growth Group members to write down what God is saying to them through the reading of His Word. The Radical Workbooks and Life Journals will be sold together for $10 total.

Now, you may be asking the question, "Why should I get involved in Growth Group?" Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan says, "We live in a culture in which the interests and desires of the individual take precedence over those in the family, group, or community. As a result, a high percentage of people want to achieve spiritual growth without losing their independence to a church or any organized institution...There is no way you will be able to grow spiritually apart from a deep involvement in a community of other believers. You can't live the Christian life without a band of Christian friends, without a family of believers in which you find a place." (p. 114, Transformational Church, by Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer)

There are several Growth Groups available for everyone in our church. Some are filling up and are full! You can sign up in the foyer on Sunday or by email (, or you can fill out your Connection Card during the worship service. Make the commitment to growth this semester!

Pictured above is an exchange student we hosted for the 2005-2006 school year. His name is Jirawut-Othni Wiraspun. We called him "Ong." Ong is from Bangkok, Thailand and is a Buddhist. For one year Ong lived with our family. Ong also became a part of our Ridgeview Church family. He attended Ridgestudents every Sunday night. Yes, as his American parent I made him go! The Ridgeview family showered him with love. I'm tearing up as I write this. I'll never forget several of our students at Blue Ridge High School invited him to sit with them at lunch and really included him in the social scene. Day after day, week after week, month after month, Ong lived among our family and watched our church intently. He was very quiet and shy. There were times Ong and myself ate breakfast together in the kitchen and after my, "Good morning, Ong," not a lot more was said. But, through it all, God was working through His Spirit, through His Word, and through His people in Ong's life.

I'll never forget a Sunday night as I pulled into the driveway to drop him off for the Ridgestudents gathering. He asked me, "Can I be a Christian and a Buddhist as well?" We sat in my car for at least thirty minutes as I shared the gospel with him and gave him the opportunity to respond. Ong was not ready yet to give full allegiance to Christ. But the seed of the gospel was planted in his heart.

I share that story with you because that's a very small way that I can be radical for the sake of 4.5 billion people who are lost without Christ. It's a drop in the bucket, but it's a start. Did it cost our family financially? Yes. Did it mean I lost some of my free time? Yes. Did it mean we lost some of our privacy? Yes. But these were small sacrifices to pay. Our family gained so much more. Jesus says in Luke 14:33, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

I want to warn you that this Radical series we begin Sunday will challenge you with the question, "Am I really a disciple of Jesus Christ?" It is going to make you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It is going to make you question some things in your life. But we must grapple with the question: Do we believe this book? And if we believe the Bible, then we must look at it with fresh eyes and evaluate what it says with our current way of life and our obedience to the clear commands of Christ.

Radical series begins this Sunday. I'm praying God would use this series mightily so His glory and fame would be spread throughout our lives and our community and our world.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Milo Wilson - Leaving Ridgeview Church from Ridgeview Church on Vimeo.

This past Sunday Milo Wilson shared with our church the news concerning the next step of God's will for him and his family. That next step will be to join Pastor Darrick Castranova and a new Southern Baptist Church that will have a September launch date in Buffalo, New York. This is a huge gain for the Kingdom of God! We get to have one of our own go and help start a new church in one of the least evangelized areas of our nation. Not only that, one of the values taught in our membership class is the "Multiplication of churches and leaders" (Acts 13:2). Did you know that the multiplication of churches is one of the most effective means of evangelism we have? Did you know that in order to reach our nation for Christ we must start new churches? Praise God for how He has been working in Milo's heart to take seriously his role in the Great Commission. Many lives will be changed in the great city of Buffalo because of Milo & Erin's obedience.

Now what? Obviously, there will be a need to replace his leadership in our worship and student ministry areas. Our Advisory Team will be working with me in finding the right persons to build upon the foundation he has built. I would ask you to do two things: 1) Pray for our Advisory Team as we seek God's will in the ministry search, 2) Let us know of anyone you feel would be a viable candidate for these ministry areas.

I mentioned Sunday that God has always provided great staff team members at Ridgeview. We will all miss Milo, Erin, Daylia, & Hazyl and their presence with us each Sunday as they transition out Sunday, October 24. But, as I said Sunday, I see some neat partnerships developing between Ridgeview Church and The Well Church in Buffalo. I am excited about what God is going to do in their lives and what God is going to do in our church! He is able to do "immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine..." (Ephesians 3:20).

In Christ,

Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall 2010 Growth Group Semester to be one of our best!

Brace yourself! I believe that if you sign up (& attend) a Fall Growth Group semester at Ridgeview you will be a radically different person by the end of this year! No small claim to make I know. But, I am passionate about the journey we will take as a church. Our theme will be "Radical: Taking your faith back from the American Dream." Much of the study will be based on the best selling book by Dr. David Platt. The power of this semester will be in its concentration. I will be preaching for 8 weeks on the radical theme. Our Growth Groups will align their study with the messages.We will be challenged by the words of Jesus and what it means to truly be His disciples and to obey what we know. We will also be challenged to take the "Radical Experiment," a one year journey of discipleship that will transform how we live in a world that has so many needs.

Here is what you will receive in the Fall Group Semester:

1. The Radical Growth Group material

Each Growth Group will go over specific facilitation questions related to the passages studied on Sunday morning and will explore them in more depth.

2. A Life Journal

Each Growth Group member will be challenged to read through the Bible and to journal daily. We will have Life Journals included with the Growth Group materials that will show you how to journal using the S.O.A.P. plan. Also included will be read through the Bible passages that will help you stay on track.

3. Summit Groups!

Our Ridgekidz will also be going through this material on Wednesday evenings during the Fall semester. We are changing the name to "Summit Groups" from Champions 4 Christ (C4C). They will also be provided a Life Journal known as SOAPY with a reading plan. The kids journal has a reading plan for different ages. Kids ages 8 and under read the first (pink) column of Scripture (usually 2 or 3 verse), kids age 9 & 10 read both the first and second (yellow) columns of Scripture (about 6 verses) and kids 11 & 12 read all three columns (purple is #3) and that's around 15 - 20 verses long. And of course, they can read beyond their age group if they want to!

I strongly encourage you to sign up for a Growth Group this semester. Our Growth Groups are listed below in the Grow section of this email newsletter with options on how you can sign up. I also encourage you to involve your Ridgekidz or Ridgestudents in the groups we have for them. I believe this will be a time of unprecedented spiritual growth in the life of our church. I look forward to seeing you on this journey!

In Christ,

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What is God's Will?

What is God's Will?
This Sunday I will begin a new series entitled, "What's God's Will For Me?" There are so many decisions to be made in life. Should I get married? Is it him or her? Should I go to college? Should I take that job? I already have a good job. Should we have another baby? Should we adopt? Our decisions do matter! It's been said we make our decisions and then our decisions make us. Many people, perhaps even you, wonder what is God's will concerning the particular issue they are facing. I look forward to this series as we unpack this great question many have, "What's God's Will For Me?" I am not promising a mechanical formula of step one, two, three equals knowing the will of God. What I am promising is God wants you to know His will and there are things you can do today to discern it.
One thing I do know; God's will is that we seek to be a bridge of His love to all people. 1 John 4:18 states, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." I am so proud to be part of church that puts actions behind it's love. Pictured above is Blue Ridge High Principal Renee Watson (center) and teachers as we served them Wednesday morning with Panera bagels and coffee. We're serving the Blue Ridge High marching band dinner Thursday night. We served over 90 kids last week through the Mega Sports ministry and we saw over 40 receive Christ! God's will is being accomplished at Ridgeview Church!
See you Sunday!


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Owning our Community

Owning our Community
Last night we began our first night of Mega Sports Camp with Northwood Baptist Church (see picture above). It got off to a great start and I came home grateful for the volunteers from Ridgeview and Northwood who made it happen. It is a Kingdom thing and it's great to see two churches working together for one purpose: to see kids come to know Christ and to help them grow in their faith. I've been challenged this year to "own" my community. That is to say, to take responsibility for every man, woman, boy, and girl in Blue Ridge. I want to make sure that every one of them has an opportunity to hear the good news of Christ, to repent of their sins and trust Christ for salvation, and to see their lives transformed as they live for Christ and not for self. I also realize that our church cannot reach them all. We must partner with other churches in our community. It is not about being the biggest church in our community (and yes, we want to grow numerically) but seeing our community churched. So, if a church down the street is doing a wonderful job in a certain ministry, let's pray for them, support them, encourage them, etc. Let's celebrate they are reaching people and look at a need in our community that no one else is meeting. It is about the advancement of the Kingdom of God! To this end we must labor!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mega Sports, Mega Bridge!

Mega Sports, Mega Bridge!
Next Monday, August 2, Ridgeview will join forces with Northwood Baptist for our second year partnership of Mega Sports Camp. Last year, around 100 kids enjoyed sharpening their basketball, baseball, soccer, and cheerleading skills. Not only that, the worship time rally, the huddle coach times, and the gospel presentation Thursday night all worked together to see many kids place their faith in Christ. There are several things I am asking everyone to do as we lead up to camp:
1) Pray that many kids would come to know Jesus Christ as forgiver of their sins and leader of their lives.
2) Pray for rally worship leaders and speakers, basketball, baseball, soccer, and cheerleading coaches along with the huddle coaches.
3) Invite the families and kids that live all around you to come. There will be invite cards in the program this Sunday.
Many thanks in advance to those of you who will be participating in this bridge event, especially our director, Beth Farmer. It takes a lot of work, time, money, and people to pull something off of this magnitude. But, to see kids give their lives to Jesus makes it all worth it!
See you Sunday!

Tommy Hargrove

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bridging Out In August

In our email newsletter this week you will find many opportunities to get involved in being a bridge of God's love to our community. I am especially excited about the month of August. I don't believe we've ever had so many opportunities for outreach as we have in August. I especially like the fact we are partnering with other churches in our community. We as a church will not be able to reach everyone in our community. We must partner with our sister churches in our community and own our "circle of accountability" which is the Blue Ridge area. So, peruse the many bridge opportunities in this newsletter. Then, sign up and get involved as we partner together with God's people not only in our church but sister churches to give every man, woman, boy, and girl the opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Connecting & Growing!

Connecting & Growing!
Pictured above is the Eill Growth Group that meets on Tuesday nights this summer. I've enjoyed being a part of this group! We are studying the book of John, praying together, and connecting as a group in fellowship. I enjoy the times before and after the "official" group time where we share some food and desserts, catch up on how things are going, and just hang out. A couple of weeks ago several people stayed over at my home to watch the college world series after the Growth Group Bible study time was over. We had a blast!
This summer we continue to do what Christ has called us to do; seek to bridge people to Himself. I'm fresh off our church mission trip to Staten Island, New York. I get a chance to catch my breath and then bam! August will be here. During this month our church will be partnering with Northwood Baptist for Mega Sports Camp. Then, we are involved in a community back to school bash. Then, we will provide a meal for the Blue Ridge High School marching band. There's a "whole lotta" bridging going on! But, there's a "whole lotta" connecting going on as well through our Growth Groups.
I believe spiritual growth occurs through bridge projects that our church does. But, I also believe we must have a steady diet of God's Word in our Growth Groups and times for just enjoying the fellowship of one another in those groups. There's a giving out and a taking in. Some Christians are always looking to be fed and the taking in of another sermon, Bible study, conference or retreat, etc. Other Christians are always looking to bridge and serve others and never take time to care for their soul and they wonder why they are burned out.
Let me encourage you in this mid point of the year and this very hot month of July to strike a balance between the giving out and the taking in. Don't let your burden for those who do not know Christ wane. Take the summer bridge challenge seriously! But also, don't neglect to care for your soul. Hebrews 10:25 states, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." By engaging with others in our Bible study Growth Groups your soul will be fed and you will be encouraged! All of us need to be engaged in both the taking in and the giving out!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Every Member A Missionary

This week Brian Bowen, Brian Green, Milo Wilson, and myself are on our church mission trip to Staten Island, New York. We are involved in a sports camp in the mornings and have done free bottled water giveaways on behalf of Crossroads (Southern Baptist) Church. We are seeking to build bridges with people here in order to connect them to Christ and His Church here on the island.

Every person who calls Ridgeview home is on a mission trip this week. You may not be 12 hours away but you are on a mission nonetheless. As you go to work, take a walk in your neighborhood, etc., look at those around you with missional eyes. What kind of impact could we make in our community if we went about each day as a mini mission trip?

On mission with you,

Tommy Hargrove

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why our 4th straight mission trip to Staten Island, New York?

Why our 4th straight mission trip to Staten Island, New York?
This Saturday night we will embark upon our fourth consecutive mission trip to Staten Island, New York. And, for the fourth straight year, we will be working with Pastor Ray Parascondo and the Crossroads Church family. We have developed a great partnership with this church. They are much like us; a church plant that meets in a school seeking to bridge their community to Jesus Christ by serving them.
Why are we going to Staten Island, New York? That's a great question. To help answer that question, take a look at some facts about the state:
*The population in the territory served by the Baptist Convention of New York is 26 million.
*The area is 95% unchurched.
*25 million unchurched people live in the territory.
*429 Southern Baptist churches serve the area.
*That is 1 SBC church for every 61,000 unchurched persons.  In the south the ratio is 1 SBC church for every 1,000 unchurched persons.
*One out of three adults in New York State do not speak English at home.
*One out of five living in New York State were born in a foreign country.
*Ten percent (10%) of the lostness of North America lives in the territory of the Baptist Convention of New York.
The needs are great! Please pray for Brian Green, Milo Wilson, and myself as we seek to bridge people to Jesus Christ through the work of the Southern Baptist Crossroads Church of Staten Island.
Summer Bridge Challenge & Woody Allen
I recently read an article/blog about sharing Jesus with people. I felt it affirmed exactly why we are doing the summer bridge challenge (mowing or paying for your neighbor's grass to be mowed & inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue, ice-cream, etc). In the article, Christian intellectual and historian Eric Metaxas was asked the following question: "How would you share Christ with Woody Allen if he were sitting next to you on a plane."
He replied, "I have to somehow figure out how to connect with him. . . . If you come across as morally superior, that's unbiblical, that's wrong, it's a lie, so you're confused. But also you'll push the person away. You've got to find a point of connection, otherwise they won't hear you. If you walk around New York you might see someone, semi-homeless, almost always from out of town, with a hat and a Bible "preaching the word" on the street. Nine times out of 10 they are not preaching the Word any more than Satan was when he was quoting the Bible to Jesus in the wilderness. The words are not magic. Some people will respond, "The word of God will not return void," and yes, the capital-w Word of God, the Logos, will not return void—but the words of the Bible can certainly return void unless they're anointed by the Holy Spirit. Many people think that if they just spew out Scripture or something that people are hearing them, but it's not true. Jesus never did that. He always connected with everyone around him."
Let me challenge you this summer to find a connection with those around you who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Doing an act of kindness for them and developing authentic relationships with them open natural doors for you to share your faith. Remember, every member at Ridgeview should look to themselves as missionaries to those around them. We go to Staten Island as missionaries. We are going internationally next year as missionaries. But, we must also go as missionaries across our yard as well!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Walt Disney World Can Teach All Of Us At Ridgeview

What Walt Disney World Can Teach All Of Us At Ridgeview
Last week we made our way to Walt Disney World for our family vacation. It is the most visited vacation destination in the world. I read that twelve million people come through their gates annually. They have around 62,000 employees they call cast members which makes them the largest single sight employer in the United States. What stuck out to me was their attention to the details, their making me feel welcome, and their going the extra mile to help me with my questions.
This was my first trip back to Disney World since 1986. I was a little overwhelmed and confused after being away for twenty-four years. Questions arose in my mind like where's my hotel, what bus do I get on to get to the park, how do I purchase the tickets, how do I use the meal plan, and what are the essential rides I need to experience in the park? Disney cast members were extremely helpful to me. They were easily accessible out by the doors and gates showing me exactly where to go and answering all my questions. They took pride in their jobs and who they worked for and the experiences they were providing our family.
I know I have to be a little careful in comparing Disney World and the Church. But, here are the takeaways for me: We have guests who show up at Ridgeview who have similar questions I had at Disney. Where do I park? Which entrance do I use? What do I wear? Where do my kids go and are they going to be safe? Am I going to be made uncomfortable/look silly in the worship service because I don't know what to do? Are the people greeting me in the parking lot and doors glad to see me? Did I experience the love of Christ at this church and love from His people?
As Christ followers we must do everything we can to help people who show up at Ridgeview for the first time experience the love of Jesus Christ and hear the gospel message. We must be extremely diligent in removing any and all barriers that may hinder people from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. So, that means we put people in the parking lot to welcome and direct first time guests, we put people at the doors as greeters to welcome and direct where to go from there, we buy the best children's curriculum out there and expect a lot from our Ridgekidz leaders, and we put our best efforts into our worship gathering. If Walt Disney World puts all that effort and hospitality into people coming to see Mickey, how much more effort should we put into what we do as people come to see Jesus?
I was challenged to continue giving my best to Christ and His Church by watching those who work at Disney. I am thankful that many of you at Ridgeview have that same attitude. Let's keep at it! The stakes are high!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We are part of something much larger than us!

We are part of something much larger than us!

Our family is in Orlando this week mixing vacation and attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention. As a messenger from Ridgeview Church, I will be voting today on our next SBC President and some very important proposals.

As Southern Baptists we come together for one main purpose; the Great Commission. Small, medium, large, and megachurches within the SBC pool their resources together in seeking to win the world for Christ. Ridgeview Church comes along over 40,000 SBC churches to take the light of Christ to our community, our state, our nation, and our world. It is all about His Kingdom!

See You Soon!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Pure & Faultless Religion

Pure & Faultless Religion
This past weekend we had two teams from our church ministering to people in the name of Christ. The first team helped put a coat of primer on the walls of a Habitat For Humanity house in Travelers Rest. They also helped put siding and steps leading out to the back porch on the house. They worked alongside Ms. Floyd who will be moving in to the house when it is completed.
The second team helped moved a widow in our church and her son out of their home into a new place. Due to unfortunate events, she was forced to move. She had no one to help move her. What she would have done without the wonderful caring people at Ridgeview Church, I don't know?
I am grateful for those who gave of their time and abilities last Saturday to work on the Habitat House and to help a widow move her belongings. It's not the kind of ministry that is glamorous or will end up being on the front page of the paper, but it is as important nonetheless. James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." For those that volunteered last Saturday and all the ministry that happened in the life of Ridgeview Church that I know of and don't know of, thank you! You are beautiful people!
We need a Great Commission Resurgence!
I will be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando next week. It will be a historic time for Southern Baptists. As a messenger to the SBC from Ridgeview Church, I will be voting on a motion from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. The Task Force has brought to all Southern Baptists a report detailing a new direction for the SBC to be more effective in reaching our world for Christ. I ask that you pray for for the Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination for wisdom in this very important matter. I am so grateful we are part of a denomination that is focused on the Great Commission. Several billion people in our world do not know of the love of Jesus Christ for them. Millions of people in America are without Christ and are heading to a Christless eternity. We must do everything we can to reach them!
I encourage you to check out the website It has much more information. Two important links I also encourage you to check out from the website are:
The lostness of America:
The Great Commission Resurgence Report:

See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy


Tis the season where many are gearing up for summer vacation. I have to admit there is much work to do to get ready for it. Many things need to be in place before I leave. Sometimes it feels it would be easier not to go and a lot less stressful. Actually, going on vacation for me really does not provide rest. In fact, it adds to my load. The reason I do vacation is for my family. It builds memories that we will be able to look to years down the road. That's what makes it all worth it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cut the cords; burn the ships (or ski boat)!

I have a friend named Lee. He called me Friday as he was coming in to town. I caught him up with my life briefly. He did the same. He then shared he was going to meet with a potential buyer of his ski boat. Many who know Lee know that waterskiing is his passion. He has taken hundreds out to Lake Hartwell. This is a bold move. Why is he doing it? Because he feels God leading him to serve a people group outside of the United States. He's cutting the cords, burning the ships. He is moving in that direction and making every effort possible not to turn back. I admire that. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No one who put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer Bridge Challenge

We have some great opportunities for bridging people to the love of Christ this summer. We have tons of people ready to go this weekend for the Habitat for Humanity project. We will be in downtown Greer June and July hosting the kid's area for Greer Idol. We are partnering with Northwood Baptist for Mega Sports Camp in early August. We are headed to Staten Island, New York to work with Crossroads Church in their sports camp. These are some great opportunities!
I also want to lay out another personal bridge challenge. It involves two things you can do for your neighbors. The first is to mow your neighbor's lawn or pay to have it done. What a great way to serve them in the name of Christ. The second way is to invite your neighbor(s) over for a summer party. It might be relaxing at your pool, grilling some burgers, or enjoying some homemade ice-cream. You do all the planning. You do all the work. You do it all in the name of Christ!
Why the challenge; what's the point? The Bible says in Romans 2:4, that "...God's kindness leads you to repentance." We want to show the kindness of God in order to bridge people to God. Good works can be the bridge upon which the good news of Jesus Christ can travel. It provides great opportunities for relational evangelism.
I look forward to sharing more about this with you Sunday as we begin a new series on the book of Ruth. If you get the opportunity, how about reading the first chapter of Ruth?We will see in this great story how God works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
See you then!


Update: Nathaniel and Morgan Balough

1LT Nathaniel and Morgan Balough were married by Pastor Tommy on 20 December 2008. They are living at Fort Knox, KY where they have been for about two years. Nathaniel is working as a Basic Training Company Executive Officer. They will be moving to Hawaii later this year, and Nathaniel will be heading to Iraq for a deployment in the near future. Nathaniel is looking to get his Masters in Physics and Morgan is looking receive her Masters in Marine Biology hoping to get some experience while in Hawaii. They are both North Greenville University graduates. They are looking to start a family in the next few years, but right now have two dogs, Baxter and Oreo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bridge Initiative Summit This Sunday!

Dr. Frank Page, Keynote Speaker For Bridge Initiative Summit This Sunday!
This coming Sunday, May 30, we will have our first Bridge Initiative Summit. It will be a time to share what God is doing in our world and how we can join Him on mission. We will hear from our own Ed Niles on international bridging. We will also hear about how we can be involved in national, state, and local bridging. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Frank Page. No stranger to many at Ridgeview, he is the former Pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church. He was instrumental in leading Taylors to start its first daughter church we know as Ridgeview. He is currently the Vice President of Evangelism for the North American Mission Board. He has been nominated to be the next Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a sought after speaker all over the nation. It will be his first visit to Ridgeview. This is a don't miss event!
Last Week To Sign Up For Summer Growth Groups
Our Growth Groups director, Paul Eill, is extremely pleased with Growth Group sign ups for the summer. We are coming off a great Spring semester and have had almost a month off. Like all good weight lifting programs, there is a principle of stress and release. Many were stretched spiritually this past semester. We have now given you a month off and now it is time to hit the gym again for some more growth. We have some great Groups being offered. You can sign up by filling out your Connection Card on Sunday, signing up at the Grow table in the foyer, or emailing Paul Eill ( The list of Growth Groups being offered are in the Grow section of this email newsletter.
Great Baptism & Barbecue Fellowship!
What an incredible night we had last Sunday at O'Neal Village! The weather, the pool, the food, and the fellowship were fantastic! Most importantly, we saw ten people baptized! Praise God for what He is doing! We give Him all the praise and honor. Special thanks also goes out to Brian and Kathy Green for catering the barbecue. It was delicious!
See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day weekend as we remember those who have lost their lives fighting for our country, please also remember two soldiers near and dear to the Ridgeview family. Andy Howell, the son of Bill & Deb Howell, is stationed in Iraq. Nathaniel Balough, a former North Greenville University student who made Ridgeview his home church, will be heading for Iraq soon.
Thank you!
Pastor Tommy

Monday, May 24, 2010

What a wonderful time we had Sunday night as we baptized 10 people at O'Neal Village in Greer. It was a celebration of changed lives by the power of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." I was recently asked what I enjoy most about ministry. Just look at the picture; that's my answer!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Outdoor Baptism & Barbecue Fellowship At O'Neal Village This Sunday!

Outdoor Baptism & Barbecue Fellowship At O'Neal Village This Sunday!

Make plans to be here this Sunday evening for the baptism and barbecue fellowship. It will be held at O'Neal Village on highway 101 right down from the Lake Cunningham fire department in Greer. The party gets started at 5:00 pm. We will be baptizing nine people! God is so good! After the baptism, we will enjoy some great barbecue catered by Brian Green, who will also be baptized along with his wife Kathy. There will be swimming, games, and some great fellowship to enjoy. Please bring a lawn chair and $3 suggested donation for the barbecue plate (maximum $10 per family).
Baptism illustrates our new life in Christ. The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)." During the morning worship service we will share video testimonies of those being baptized and their new life in Christ. I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning and Sunday evening as we celebrate Jesus and the lives He's changed.
Pastor Tommy
A Divine Mentor

Over the last couple of years I've been involved in a number of mentor/coaching relationships. They all have been beneficial to me in helping me grow as a leader. As I am reading Wayne Cordeiro's book, The Divine Mentor, I am reminded that there is no greater Mentor than God through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. There are loads of great resources out there to help coach/mentor you in any field you are in. They are important. But, they must always take a back seat to the ultimate wisdom found in God's Word. It is timeless!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Month In The Life Of Ridgeview!

I could not be more excited about the month of May at Ridgeview Church! Great things have already occurred such as a record number of cars serviced and ladies helped for the single moms free oil change, the graduation recognition/student Sunday, the Ridgestudents 30 hour famine, a new children's minister in place, one-hundred Panera bagels provided to the faculty at Blue Ridge High for teacher appreciation, several families joining the church in our last membership class, and our volunteers helping out with the Greer Family Fest, to name a few. God is at work through His people!
I do not judge a church solely on numbers but I believe they do point to a level of church health. Let me say that our "numbers" already in May 2010 are much better than May 2009. That is very encouraging! There are some great coming events still left in May: our "Can You See Him?" second coming of Christ series, the outdoor baptism and barbecue May 23 at O'Neal Village, and our first ever Bridge Initiative Summit (May 30) with keynote speaker Dr. Frank Page, North American Mission Board Vice President of Evangelism and former Pastor of Taylors First Baptist and past President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
May is a great month in the life of Ridgeview Church! It is so encouraging to see the people of Ridgeview Church fulfilling their purpose of being a bridge of God's love to all people and making disciples of Him!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Second Coming of Christ series continues Sunday

Second Coming of Christ series continues Sunday
As we continue our "Can You see Him" message series and pick back up on the Second Coming of Christ, we will be focusing on Matthew 24 & 25 for the next three weeks. This passage is known as the "Olivet Discourse" and it is the second longest message of Christ recorded in the Bible. We will look this Sunday at what Jesus says about the Tribulation. We will examine what will happen during that time and what we must do in light of that knowledge.
Very Proud Of Our Graduates & Ridgestudents
I cannot say enough about the fine students we have in our Ridgestudents ministry. It was an honor to spend some time with them serving for the 30 hour famine. It was inspiring for me to see many of them serving on Sunday in some capacity. Paul shared with Timothy, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12.)" Thank you Ridgestudents for the example you set. Also, congratulations to our high school and college graduates. We are proud of your academic accomplishments and wish God's very best for you. A verse that meant so much to me as I graduated from college was Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." I promise you if you put Jesus Christ first in front of your plans, ambitions, career, interests, relationships, and worries He promises to provide and guide you in all things. That's a great promise!
Growth Groups- Thank You Paul Eill
I would like to thank Paul Eill, our Growth Groups minister, for a great Spring semester. It was one of our best! Just as the name Growth Groups implies, we certainly saw growth and life transformation in the lives of those involved. Paul Eill was a great help to us in the administration required in overseeing our Growth Groups. I am grateful for his leadership!
Please be aware that we will take a break from Growth Groups for the month of May. The summer semester will begin June 6 - August 8. We will begin sign-ups this Sunday for our summer semester. I am excited about the Growth Groups being offered!
Mother's Day & Parent-Child Dedication
Looking forward to this Sunday as we celebrate Mother's Day and as we also hold our parent-child dedication. If you would like to have your child dedicated, please let me know before Sunday. It is simply a covenant before God, the Ridgeview family, and the parent or parents to take seriously the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-7, 4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6) These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
We have some great worship experiences lined up for the month of May. I hope to see you this Sunday as we celebrate and worship Jesus Christ who gives us fullness of life!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy
Is God's Word Enough?

A belief system has developed in our day that gets people to buy in to the lie that they cannot cope on their own. Therefore, they need medication, counseling, etc. to make it through. Now, there is a time and place for those things. My wife is a child and adolescent counselor. But, the centrality of God's Word, the Bible, must be our first choice for dealing with life. I believe what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3-4, 3) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4) Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. Whatever you may be facing in life, turn to God's Word first. All other remedies are secondary in nature.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ridgekidz has a new leader!

I am pleased to share with you upon the recommendation of the Advisory Team our new Ridgekidz children's minister, Shannon Cole. Shannon is married to Tom Cole who is best known now as our famous Easter Bunny at the egg grab. Shannon is also the mother of four beautiful children; Hunter, Chase, Carleigh, and Dillon. She brings many gifts, abilities, and experiences to lead Ridgekidz. Many of you already know her and her family. If you do not, please make an effort to introduce yourself and hear her story. It is an amazing story of God's hand of providence that brought the Cole's to Ridgeview! Lastly, I encourage you to pray for her as she builds on the great foundation that has been laid in our children's ministry.
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Body of Christ at Ridgeview

The Body of Christ at Ridgeview
The Bible says "4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us... (Romans 12:4-6 NIV)." I am so grateful to be a part of a church that is seeing the body use their gifts in service. It is adding so much to our worship services, our Growth Groups, our bridging out to our community, and our ministering to one another. It is a beautiful sight to behold!
New Message Series on the Second Coming of Christ
The bodily return of Christ not a point on which Scriptures are ambiguous or unclear. As the disciples watched the resurrected Christ ascend into heaven, Scripture tells us,  10) They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11) "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11 NIV)."
The Second Coming is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity, yet many of the details are surrounded in mystery. We must be careful about being dogmatic on certain finer points. Jesus says that "no one knows the day or hour (Mark 13:32)." However, we must also be ready. Jesus says,  "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Luke 12:40 NIV)"
I look forward to this four part message series entitled "Can You See Him"  because Jesus Christ is coming again. The Bible commands us to know the signs of the times, to remain watchful, and to be ready. This series will help you do just that!
See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy 4 Years, Nathan "Milo" Wilson!

Four years ago Ridgeview Church stepped out on faith and brought a second full-time minister on staff. His name was Milo Wilson. From the moment he came on board I knew we had someone special. He was a gifted musician and worship leader and brought many other gifts, talents, and abilities to our staff team. We have spent many hours working together. We've been on leadership retreats in Columbia and Anderson SC, mission trips to Staten Island, and men's retreats to Flat Rock. We've done tons of bridge projects in our community that literally have touched thousands. We've worked together to plan and lead over 200 worship services at Mountain View Elementary, Blue Ridge High, and the Red Barn. We've hashed out strategy in the office and debated with one another our points of view, always respectful of one another. I was privileged to be part of his ordination. I have seen him in the good times and in the most trying of times. Through it all he has been a man of integrity. He has been a pleasure to work with these past four years.
Bill Hybels says in bringing on a staff member they must meet the "three C's." They must have competence in their field. There must be chemistry with you and them as far as the working relationship. And, there must be character. Milo meets all three! Concerning character, Scripture teaches if one aspires to lead in the church as an "overseer" (pastor) their character is what is most important. Paul writes concerning character qualifications to serve in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. One of the values of our church is integrity and it is an honor to serve alongside Milo because of his character.
Please express to Milo this week your appreciation for his four years of ministry at Ridgeview. My how the time flies! 
Pastor Tommy

Friday, April 09, 2010

Is a "Christian" who is not a disciple really a Christian?

We had a great Growth Group last night as we are making our way through Francis Chan's book Crazy Love. Chapter five is entitled "Serving leftovers to a holy God." Francis Chan pulls no punches when he says on pages 83-84, "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven."

He shares the passage in Revelation 3:15-18 where Jesus says because they are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, He will spit them out of His mouth. I can't see how that would refer to a person who is saved if Jesus spits them out of His mouth.

So, is a person really a Christian who calls on the name of the Lord to save them but never gives Christ their time, their talents, their treasure? Basically, he or she never obeys Christ but likes the idea of not going to Hell when they die and spending an eternity in Heaven. Is that person a Christian?

Being a disciple is to be a learner and follower of Jesus Christ. To follow Jesus means to obey Him. Is it perfect obedience? Of course not. We all fall short. Even the apostle Paul did, and Peter, etc. But, it is a growth process where there is a passion to follow Christ and obey Him. After all, Jesus said if you love Him you will obey His commands (John 14:15). Please do not mistake my advocacy of a works salvation. I know there is nothing I can do to save myself (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ." I am passionate about following Jesus and giving Him all that I have. I want to be His disciple. My calling as a Pastor is to lead a church to make as many disciples as we possibly can. It's our marching orders found in Matthew 28:19-20. To this end I labor.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Two Hundred and Three!

Pictured above is the attendance number from Easter Sunday written on the backside of a Connection Card. I shared that number at the end of the worship service with those present. Although we did not reach our goal of 215 people, there have been only a handful of times we have ever had over 200 people on a Sunday morning. It is cause for celebration! Why? Because 203 people gathered at Ridgeview to worship Jesus Christ on Resurrection Sunday. Because 44 kids were learning more about Jesus in our Ridgekidz area. Because the Gospel was shared and seeds were planted in the hearts of those who have not yet claimed Jesus as forgiver of their sins and leader of their lives; I believe they are one step closer. Because there were families there who have not been in church for years and we are seeing them get connected. Because we were able to be a bridge of God's love to 203 people through the way they were greeted, through the music and message, and through the connections made through fellowship.
Let me thank the many of you who invited someone to come with you to church. The most loving thing we can do for people is invite them to hear about the good news of Jesus!
Pastor Tommy