Imagine life. . .
where people matter more than things, where relationships are authentic, where others accept you as you are, where addictions have no reign, where marriages are restored, where broken lives are healed, where you can live free from your past, where you have freedom to pursue dreams.
Imagine a place, or rather a faith community, that captures the attention of a city through the hope of Jesus Christ. Consider what God will do through a new community of faith that is not safe and comfortable, but dangerous, if you will — taking risks by boldly following Jesus.
This is our vision for Life Church… to be a creative, authentic, relational, and relevant faith community that intentionally seeks to free people to encounter Jesus and experience the life He offers.
Our worship is edgy and engaging, our culture is relational and outward focused, and our theology is grounded in the Scriptures. We desire to be a burning bush that captures the attention of a city — something out of the ordinary that draws people in, so that they can hear the voice of God.
And as we free people to encounter Jesus so they can take that next step in relationship with Him, we will equip and encourage this generation and beyond to Encounter God, Experience Community and Engage Culture.
The Need: Why Another Church?
Meridian lies in the heart of Mississippi’s Lauderdale County, about 90 miles from Jackson, Mississippi and 145 miles from Birmingham, Alabama. The sixth largest city in the state, Meridian ranks high in economic vitality among Mississippi cities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Lauderdale County was estimated at 78,524 in 2015 with nearly 40,000 of those living within the Meridian city limits. Despite its size, Meridian is still considered a small town by some, but it affords many of the amenities of a more urban population.
On the surface, Meridian appears to be saturated with churches — in fact, it seems as though there is a church on every corner. However, the reality is that while 50 percent of people in Meridian claim to have a church affiliation, only a small percentage are members of an evangelical church. At best, there is at least another 50 percent that do not — they don't even attend church. More importantly, we can see there is a massive shortfall of people who are in a growing relationship with Jesus, regardless of the number of churches in Meridian. Meridian churches are not reaching everyone — especially the younger generation and those who are far from God. Our observation is that a large potential of souls are being sacrificed because many churches are desperately trying to keep and satisfy a handful of traditional church-goers.
The idea behind Life Church rests upon the need to create environments where believers can be excited about bringing their un-churched friends; environments where the un-churched will experience something so different, unique, and life-giving that they want to come back, whether they believe the teaching or not. These will be environments where people can experience God through “touchstones” in their life experience and culture… environments where things are done with excellence and where adults, teens, and kids encounter a creative God as a result of what we do through Christ.
The Target: Whom Do We Intend to Reach?
We will design our services and events with the 18-44 year old in mind (ages 18-44 make up nearly 45 percent of Lauderdale County according to Census 2000). However, our programming will appeal to a wider audience from teenagers to Boomers to Builders. So while our style will resemble elements characteristic of this generation, we aim to reach people of all ages. We believe this goal is possible because it has been proven by communities like North Point Community Church in Atlanta, LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City, Journey Church in Bozeman, and SHEC in Missoula. These churches have demonstrated that environments designed for a younger audience are more likely to reach a younger generation AND also reach older adults. But the reverse is not true. When we design our services for an older audience, the younger crowd will not show up.
People Far From God...
Jesus came to seek and save what was lost (Luke 19:10). He commanded His followers to go into all the world and “make disciples” of those who were not followers (Matthew 28:19). One day Jesus pushed the concept to a radical extreme when He told the story about a shepherd who had one hundred sheep. He suggested that it was appropriate to leave the ninety-nine that were safe in order to find the one that was lost. What do you think Jesus would say about leaving the almost 50 percent who presently attend church in Lauderdale County to reach the 50 percent who do not?
We believe that, like Jesus, we must develop a heart for those who are far away from God, including those who are un-churched and those who have found traditional church lacking or irrelevant. All that we do in our programming, communications, and ministry will be considered through the lens of the un-churched in this generation.
Followers of Christ...
As we seek to reach the above-mentioned groups, we believe that we identify with the purpose and meaning of what Jesus intended His Church to be. In this, we give current followers of Jesus a community in which to live out and become Christ in this world. Through the environments we create and the lives we live, believers will be drawn to their purpose at Life Church to free people to encounter the Father’s heart and lead them into a growing relationship with Him.