Why I Refuse to Give Up on the Local Church
When my friend Ferrell Hardison moved to the town of Princeton, N.C., in 1990, he began pastoring a Pentecostal church with 70 people. Founded in 1918, it was a tired, aging congregation with a tiny budget. Ferrell was the 25th pastor to lead the church, and some of his predecessors had stayed only a year or two. Not exactly a young pastor's dream job!
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Today, the church has a new name--The Bridge--and it has grown to 1,250 in weekly attendance. Last fall the vibrant congregation broke ground on a new worship center, and they've planted a satellite congregation in the town of Goldsboro, N.C., that already has 300 members. A large percentage of the church's $2.6 million annual budget is marked for outreach, and Ferrell estimates that at least 3,000 people have come to Christ through their ministry in recent years.
"In a down economy, our giving has been up," Hardison told me. "We have discovered that people give when they understand how their giving changes lives for eternity."
Ferrell is a simple guy who believes in prayer. He's not a celebrity CEO pastor who runs his church like a business, nor is he a self-appointed "apostolic" tyrant who barks orders to his staff and treats people like dirt. He believes in core biblical values like servanthood, humility, team ministry and compassion. And people are flocking to The Bridge because they find Jesus-focused worship, Bible-centered preaching and, most of all, New Testament-style love.
I'm pretty sure this is how church was meant to be.
I'm sharing this success story because I hear a lot of complaining these days. I know people who have stopped going to church altogether, for myriad reasons: (1) They were hurt by a pastor or snubbed by church members; (2) They think all Christians are hypocrites (I don't know one Christian, myself included, who does not have at least a streak of hypocrisy); or (3) No church within an hour of driving distance meets their standards or suits their tastes.
Because of this pervasive negativity, many Christians have settled into a gloomy cynicism. They think America is ripe for judgment (Haven't we been for decades?) and that we might as well shut the blinds, curl up on the couch and wait for the rapture.
That is really sad, because this dark hour is our best opportunity to shine.
SOURCE: Charisma News
J. Lee Grady
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