1st century meets 21st in 1.21 church
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 23, 2009

1st century meets 21st in 1.21 church

1st century meets 21st in 1.21 church
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
September 23, 2009

Rick Hughes knows that if you train, equip and help a church planter, with God’s grace the man will produce a healthy church.

Stephen Wagoner is a young beneficiary of Hughes’ direct investment.

“Single handedly God has used Rick to make Stephen Wagoner a more sanctified version of Stephen Wagoner,” says the 25-year-old pastor of a church named 1.21. “He’s loving and caring so much that when he recognizes where we need help he lovingly steps in as a father figure and says ‘I want to help you.’”

1.21 is a church plant that meets in downtown Winston-Salem after an earlier start in the suburbs. Wagoner is one of three pastor/elders. Two members are going through “eldership” training.

The name 1.21 means “first century truth in a 21st century culture,” according to Wagoner, who wants to bring “orthodox Christianity and unfiltered Bible truth” into the 21st century, using 21st century methods.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Stephen Wagoner

He says 1.21 exists “to spread the gospel so that lives can be changed by that gospel.”

The church has outgrown its current meeting space in the Foothills Brewing Company and is renovating a showroom and warehouse on Cherry Street formerly occupied by a lawnmower company.

1.21 has church planting at its heart and Wagoner intends the church to continue to call out elders and train them for pastoral ministry and to plant churches, “eventually working our way through the Triad, trying to saturate the whole Triad with the gospel,” he said.

The church launched in January of this year with a “missional, incarnational approach to evangelism and social justice,” Wagoner said.

“If we really believe that Jesus has done this, then that pushes us out to a grass roots kind of evangelism to where we love and serve everyone like Christ has loved and served us.,” he says. “Pastors can’t change individuals. Encouraging people to do better and try harder doesn’t work. But the gospel is different. It is news showing people that this has already happened and you get to live like it happened.”

He admits 1.21 is “not very attractional.”

People don’t flock to the church to see a show. Worship is very intentional, communion is celebrated weekly and sermons are long.

“We put high priority on expounding the scripture and we send them out every week to be on mission with the gospel,” Wagoner said.

The new facility which they hope to be in by Christmas, will be a place from which to “bless the city” as a neighborhood resource.

1.21 will host art shows, local bands, a soup kitchen, food pantry and clothes closet.

“It is working by God’s grace,” said Wagoner, son of a church planter in Dunn. His father is pastor of Central Baptist in Dunn, which he started when Wagoner was just nine months old. Today Wagner has four children of his own.

Wagoner appreciates Hughes, who is working to nurture a discipleship culture in North Carolina Baptist churches, like a father.

“He coaches me with his life,” Wagoner said. “The way he displays the gospel in his life helps me in my personal life.

“He is a good example for what I want to be when I’m a grown man. When I’m a little more seasoned I wouldn’t mind having the demeanor and the character that he does.”

Find out more about 1.21 online at www.121church.org.

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