BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Bryon Lamb, left, pastor of LifeSpring Community Church in Franklin, participates in an observation exercise with other bivocational and small church pastors. Lamb approached his director of missions when he saw a visitor at his church looking uncomfortable because of his attire. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina provides training to more than 100 church planters each year. Coweeta Baptist Church in Otto has been assisting Lamb with planting LifeSpring Community.
Bryon Lamb knew God was calling him to plant a church that would intentionally engage the unchurched people in his community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Lamb was not trained in church planting, had never started a church, and he wasn’t even sure he had the means to start one.
Lamb soon learned that when God leads, God provides.
Lamb was serving as a bivocational pastor in what he described as a traditional church when he first felt God calling him to church planting. “There was an unchurched person who kept coming but did not fit in wearing blue jeans and Crocs,” Lamb said. “It was obvious they did not feel comfortable because everyone else was wearing suits and ties.”
That experience ignited a passion to start a new church where everyone would feel comfortable regardless of their appearance. “People need to know there is a place they can come no matter what they are wearing and feel accepted and loved,” Lamb said.
Lamb talked with his director of missions, Jeff King, about his idea for a new church. King put him on track to receive church planting training through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
The BSC trains more than 100 church planters in North Carolina each year. After passing an initial assessment, potential planters are eligible to receive basic church planting training through the BSC.
Lamb said the BSC training provided everything he needed to launch a new church. “I learned so much during basic training that I went back to our 10-member church plant group and we went through the material together,” Lamb said. “It has really blessed us.”
It was not long before the team was finalizing plans to launch LifeSpring Community Church in Franklin. They needed some help renovating the facility they rented as their worship center, and they wanted advice from an established church before finalizing the bylaws.
King arranged a meeting between Lamb and Davis Hooper, pastor of Coweeta Baptist Church, to see if Coweeta would consider partnering with LifeSpring during the launch period.
At first, this seemed like an unlikely pairing.
“We are two polar opposite church families,” Lamb said. “Coweeta is probably the most traditional church in the association. I never thought they would consider sponsoring a church such as ourselves.”
The generational gap and different worship styles were not a concern for Hooper. He knew Lamb had a passion to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
“I had no reservations about helping Bryon,” Hooper said. “We were eager to help.”
Coweeta did everything LifeSpring needed them to do. They helped LifeSpring finish their bylaws, and when LifeSpring had less than 30 days to complete the renovation of their worship center, they were there to help.
“Davis Hooper showed up with 25 people from Coweeta and they got more work done in one day than we could have done in a week on our own,” Lamb said.
The relationship formed between Coweeta and LifeSpring is one that has continued to grow. The two congregations have held joint worship services together, and Lamb and Hooper have invited each other to participate in ordination services at their respective churches.
“Coweeta has been wonderful for our church family,” Lamb said. “They are a much older congregation than we are, and their commitment to us has really taught our younger people how important it is to be committed to your church family.”
Hooper’s congregation has also benefited from the partnership. “Our partnership with LifeSpring has taught us that you don’t have to be traditional to reach people for Christ,” he said.
LifeSpring held its first service December 12, 2010, with 20 people in attendance.
Although not quite the beginning they expected, Lamb and his team did not give up. One year later, LifeSpring is averaging 50 to 75 people during Sunday morning worship.
It’s the life change, not the numbers, which excites Lamb. “I have seen people who were never churched become on fire for God during the past year,” he said. Lamb believes a threefold emphasis of boldly preaching God’s Word, intentional discipleship, and a contemporary worship style is making a positive impact.
“It has changed the way people view church,” Lamb said. “I had a young man ask to be baptized recently, and he told me he did not know church could be this fun.”
Part of the fun for Lamb is not being tied to a traditional set of rules. For example, the Sunday before Memorial Day, “we decided to go camping,” Lamb said. “We put a sign on the [church] door telling people to meet us at the local campground and to bring their flip flops and chairs.”
With LifeSpring growing numerically, and its members maturing in the Lord, Lamb and his team are preparing to plant more churches. “We want to start churches out of our church,” he said. “We just want people to be reached for Christ.”
Planting new churches might seem impossible to others, but Lamb knows all things are possible with God.
“Church planting was a whole new animal,” he said. “I never thought it would happen.”