Thursday, September 6, 2007
Tricia and I had an opportunity this past week to visit Cleveland Community Church in Clayton, NC, about 20 miles SW of Raleigh. C3 was planted by Pastor, Matt Fry in the fall of 1998 and has grown to over 2000 attenders, being named #100 in the "Top 100 Fastest Growing US Churches" by Outreach Magazine in 2006. The church is in the middle of a building project, expanding their space from about 25,000 to close to 100,000 square feet.
The first Wednesday night of every month is reserved as a vision-driven, members-oriented service, and the first Wednesday of Sept. is reserved especially as a kick-off for the new school year/end of summer. I suppose we picked as good a night as any as our first experience at C3...the atmosphere was high energy as the band rocked for at least 40 minutes and the pastor gave a very clear picture of where the church has come in the past 9 years, and where it is headed in the very near future. With the help of a cool video of clips from past church highlights, Fry especially focused on the the opportunities that the new facilities will give the church to reach their community.
I really appreciated hearing the pastor's heart, and it seemed as if I was having a bit of deja vu as much of what he said is stuff we've been talking about at NHC over the past few years through our building project. It's exciting to see a church much like ours doing bigger things...it gives me excitement to imagine that God is going to do some bigger things with us as well.
It's also fun to see how churches with similar music/worship styles as ours can do things so differently than we do and yet do it just as well. The worship leaders did a great job of leading the people into an exciting and celebratory place of giving thanks to God. A few of the songs were new to me, a few were a little familiar, and a few are songs that we do at NHC. The highlight of the worship for me was watching about 25 people get baptised at the front of the worship center as the rest of the congregation sang to God...every time a person came up out of the water, the place errupted in cheers and applause. Few things make me want to cry more than seeing the joy of a new believer being baptised.
And, to boot, I got to see a few classmates from LU and meet the pastor and his wife.
As Tricia and I spend some more time in Durham over the next few months, we're looking forward to checking out some more churches as well as spending some more time at C3.