Kelly and Terry Hollifield, from left, talk with a visitor to Paradigm Church in Asheville. The church began in October 2010 and meets in a shopping center. Paradigm not only receives support from the Baptist State Convention, it gets help from Pole Creek Baptist Church in Enka where Hollifield was minister of education.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – In his travels across North Carolina, Mike Creswell, who is a senior consultant for the Baptist State Convention, visits churches who receive Cooperative Program money. Here is a look at four churches attempting to share the gospel with their communities.)
Terry Hollifield is seeking unchurched people, but in a targeted way. Think of Paul addressing the Greeks of Athens.
The Paradigm Church Hollifield leads as pastor meets in the second floor of a strip shopping center near Asheville’s Biltmore Square Mall; downstairs there’s a sandwich shop and a martial arts center (paradigmasheville.org).
Hollifield says Paradigm is specifically seeking people who are unchurched or dechurched – especially those who have embraced other, non-Christian views. Paradigm’s aim is to clearly present the Good News of Jesus Christ, but is being innovative in its approach.
He says he is actually targeting himself, as he once was, growing up in “the new Asheville,” before the gospel changed his life and led him into ministry. He served as minister of education for six years at Pole Creek Baptist Church in nearby Candler; Pole Creek now supports his church-planting ministry.
“We invite people from all backgrounds, all belief systems, skeptics, you name it. We discuss things that really matter. We discuss the most important things in life like truth, the nature of God, and who God is, and has God spoken, and how do we know that?” he said.
Along with more traditional Bible studies, Hollifield seeks to answer such questions in small group meetings around the city. He wants to start a conversation about beliefs and answer questions from a biblical, Christian perspective, not just preach.
Many people in the Asheville area reject Christianity for New Age ideas or embrace spiritual truths from Eastern religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism, he said. “Asheville is interesting. People are asking the right questions here. Sadly, though, the church hasn’t done a very good job of answering them, engaging them with the Bible, who Jesus is,” Hollifield explained.
After a Sunday service, Hollifield throws the service open for questions and assures those present that any question is OK. An open atmosphere is needed for sharing Bible truths, he believes.
“Here, people are seeking, but they want to do so in an environment where I’m not going to shove truth down their throat. They want to talk about it. So we try to do that. It is a reflection of the culture here.”
Since Paradigm launched Oct. 10, 2010, the church has grown steadily, mostly as people engaged in small groups eventually become confident enough to attend a Sunday service.
River of Leland
Mention “Thunder Alley” in relation to most churches and maybe you’d be talking about the pastor’s preaching style.
But for River of Leland, a new church in Leland, near Wilmington, Thunder Alley is where they meet (riverofleland.com).
It’s a 20,000-sq.-ft. bowling alley. When co-pastors John McIntyre and Travis Currin looked for meeting space, the new, modern and well-placed bowling alley looked promising.
Owners/operators Ricky and Ginger Roberts were delighted to be asked to host a new church. As Christians and longtime staffers with a Christian family ministry, they were already exploring how to help churches.
The name-emblazoned River of Leland van and trailer parked outside are reminders of the set-up duties that come every Sunday with such meeting locations. Still, the facility’s lobby area has served well. The church is casual dress – who dresses up to go to a bowling alley? – and strong, contemporary music.
McIntyre grew up near Wilmington and served several churches, including Southside in Wilmington, before committing to starting a new church. Currin grew up in Angier.
The best problem the church faces now is that the seating space in the bowling alley is near capacity. Soon they’ll need a bigger meeting space. They’re hoping a new shopping area, delayed by the recession, will be completed when they’re ready to move. Home groups, an important part of the church, have grown from three to eight just this year.
As Greater Wilmington continues to grow, McIntyre and Currin want River of Leland to grow as well, helping bring increasing numbers of people to faith in Christ and helping start multiple new churches.
Head out North Center Street in Hickory on a Sunday morning and you’ll come to one of many strip shopping centers that dot the area.
Some of the Sunday morning traffic heads left to a gym for a physical workout. Even more people head to the right for the spiritual workout available in two Sunday morning services at Reflection Church (reflectionchurch.com). Lead pastor Ken Case and his staff recently contracted for more space in their former restaurant building by taking out a wall; steady growth was the reason.
Contemporary worship and casual dress do not obscure the truth delivered in Case’s plain talk and Bible-based sermons, usually delivered verse-by-verse and organized in series.
Home groups, studies and other activities are designed to bring people to faith in Christ and then to reflect Him in their lives, hence the church’s name.
Church planter Nathan Cline was living in South Carolina two years ago when God began to call him to start a new church. Over the next year he developed a core group of some 30 people who also wanted to “spark a revolution of life change through Jesus,” hence the name, Revo Church (discoverrevo.com).
The church started Sunday services Feb. 27 with several hundred people present; already they are considering moving to another location.
But their first meeting place has been impressive — the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in downtown Winston-Salem. Though actually a refurbished building, the center looks crisply new and modern. It opened September 2010 and is equipped with an auditorium.
The casual observer may question whether one more church is needed downtown; other church buildings are visible from the arts center.
But Cline answers that of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 in the city, 83 percent are unchurched, unreached, unevangelized. That is their primary target group, he says.