By Brianna Gwin
In an age full of churches dying left and right, there is a church that stands out among the rest. Redeemer Community Church located in Birmingham, Alabama has a story like no other. Brought to Birmingham by God’s calling, lead pastor Joel Brooks uprooted his family from Atlanta and decided to plant a church in Birmingham. The church started in 2008 and began with 150 members. The interesting part of this church is that now, less than ten years later, they are pressing towards 1,000 members. This church is growing exponentially, but why are some churches like Redeemer Community Church and the Church of the Highlands growing on a weekly basis but other churches are struggling to keep their members? After researching the different beliefs and ideals of the church, there were a few things that stood out about the churches that helped me realize why people are constantly attracted to worshipping and identifying with this community of believers.
The Redeemer church was founded by a family who trusted God’s calling and in His promises. They continued to believe that He would provide where they needed to be despite the circumstances surrounding them. Joel Brooks decided to uproot his family and took a leap of faith by moving to Birmingham. His vision alongside of God’s grace has helped this church grow immensely. The one thing that stood out on their website was why they named it the Redeemer church. The church was founded on the belief and focus on redemption. Many churches focus on sin and hell along with the negative connotations of the Bible, whereas after reading about this church it looked as if they try to bring hope to the hopeless. Their focus stays on the redemption we receive from Jesus dying on the cross and they live to serve God with that everlasting hope. The vision for the Redeemer Community Church is “We strive to be a people who spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things through Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ transforms us to be a people who love God and love our neighbor.” The key word of their vision statement is passion. The church has a passion for God and for loving people with the same love that we were shown through Jesus. What more do people want in a church than people who are on fire for Jesus and live their lives how God commands? The belief is that when God’s word is preached and people life Jesus’s name on high, that He draws every man and woman to Himself. So they aim to live their lives in a way that reflects that.
One thing that makes the Redeemer church stand out is the belief that the church is not just a building, but the church is the people. The members do weekly Bible studies in the homes of the community and believe in the movement instead of the building. They appeal to outsiders by showing the love of Jesus and being open to any and all people to join in worship with them for the glory of God. The focus of this church is that they want to reach out to all communities and not stay comfortable within their own building. The realization that God loves the city and not the building motivates the church to expand their horizons and minister to the neighborhoods around them. A lot of churches keep their members tied up in outside activities where they do not have time to reach out to unbelievers around them. The Redeemer church maintains a steady schedule, Sunday worship and mid-week gatherings for prayer and Bible study, so the members have the freedom to go out in the community and bring others to know the love of Jesus by showing it and living it.
The Church of the Highlands has also grown in the past few years. Through a number of online posts and their website, the thing that stands out in this group of believers is their openness with each other and the way they surround each other through their sins and struggles. They are a church with a diverse range of backgrounds and their aim is to give each person a life-changing experience to come to realize who God is. The church adapts the worship to a time where members feel able to express their passion for the Lord in whatever way they feel is comfortable. The worship there with all the members is authentic. The openness the church provides helps them to feel free to let God into their lives and have a wholehearted worship. The biggest part of worshipping at this church is that you can worship however you would like without being judged. One of the ways they are able to have such amazing worship is through making worship relevant and practical. Many times churches overlook the cultural changes and decide not to adapt to the current ways of worship that appeal to the members. They make every service relevant to everyday life and focus the lessons to each person’s experience and testimony. The biggest thing that this church focuses on is building community and they welcome each person into their church wherever they are on their spiritual walk with Christ. The small group aspect helps them in build intimate relationships within the church. The pastor, Chris Hodges, is passionate about forming leaders that go to minister and plant churches worldwide. His church-planting story is similar to the one of the Redeemer Community Church. Chris dreamed to plant a church where their vision was to connect with God and to be able to reach their fullest potential in that relationship with Him. Formed in 2001, more than 350 people attended the first service and now a little over 10 years later, they have around 38,000 people participating worldwide. Their mission is to reach out to those who do not know God and give those people a community to depend on through small groups. The purpose that the Church of the Highlands lives by is “to reach people with the life giving message of Jesus that they might become fully devoted followers of Christ.” This church has the ability to grow immensely by living radical lives following Jesus Christ.
After looking at the Redeemer Community Church and the Church of the Highlands two simple words stand out about their church, passion and community. The passion that they have for following the Lord’s calling and reaching out to others to help them know Jesus is what brings people in. It is evident through their worship and lives that God is head and wherever God calls, that is where they will be following. The community aspect gives believers people to lean on in their highest times, but even more in the low times. Imagine hitting rock bottom and knowing that you have a group of friends to surround and love you no matter your circumstance? The unconditional love during the darkest times in life is how Jesus loved us. These churches choose to represent this love in the way they serve each other. If you are looking to build a relationship with Christ and want to serve him with all your life, look into one of these churches because you will be welcomed with arms wide open, the same way Jesus welcomes us back daily.
About the Author: This article was written by Brianna Gwin. Brianna is an intern at the Reid Law Firm. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Business Administration from Auburn University. She may be reached at Brianna.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Reid Law Firm and its staff, please visit www.reidlawalabama.com.