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.