If you drive by the church on the corner of Hope Hollow and Cooper Roads, you’ve probably noticed some significant changes. A large gravel parking lot. Fresh landscaping. A big new sign. All of these things point to Sunday, October 25th, when the people of Berean Bible Church open their doors for the first time to the public at 11:00 AM.
Launching a new church is no small feat, a fact that Lead Pastor Dr. Rodney Massey knows all too well. But sometimes, things seem to come together in a rather divine way.
“It was back in May and June, I just took a day to pray for God’s direction,” Massey says during an interview in his office. “I took my bible, a notebook, and a pen, and I just spent the day praying and listening to God. In one day he gave me the name of the church, the vision for the church, and a sense of who I needed to bring with me to get it started.”
Massey’s list had 18 names–and all 18 are currently involved with the church in some way. One of those names was Dr. Jamie Merritt, the Discipleship Pastor for Berean. He and Massey worked together before, and both were excited for the opportunity to work together again. Part of their enthusiasm is their friendship, but they’re also connected at a deeper level: both received their Doctorate in Expository Preaching, which means both men are skilled at interpreting and explaining the bible.
“Because that’s the foundation, the Word of God,” Massey says. “Some churches may entertain, some may do other things, but what brings people together is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Bringing the Gospel is the mission for Massey and the members of Berean Bible Church, so much so it’s why they chose the name.
“Acts 17:11 – ‘Now the Bereans received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true.’ That’s how we want to be as a church,” Massey says. “People who examine the Scriptures every day.”
The church also wants to be somewhere that people of all different ethnicities, ages, and cultural backgrounds can come together as well.
“Multi-cultural ministry is so important,” Massey says. “In this day and age of Ferguson and other instances of racial division, we want people to walk into this church and see white and black not only getting along, but loving each other.”
Merritt agrees. “It’s about showing people how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can transcend the things that the world says should divide us, and unite us as one.”
Again, divine intervention would seem to reinforce their goal. Berean Bible Church is actually the merger of two churches–Berean Bible and the church formerly known as Bay Creek Community Church. In fact, Massey says the merger came about in such a way that only God could take credit.
“I knew I would need a place to share my vision for the church with the people I was recruiting,” Massey says, “and I knew Steve Gibbs, the Senior Pastor of Bay Creek. So I called and asked if we could use their building for a vision meeting and he said yes. That night, one of the elders of Bay Creek came up to me after the meeting and said, ‘I really liked what you had to say. Maybe there’s a way our church and your church could work out an arrangement for y’all to meet here on Sundays after we’re done.'”
That elder took the idea back to Gibbs, who called Massey a week later.
“Steve called me,” Massey says, “and goes, ‘The vision you have for your church is very similar to what we’re hoping to do at Bay Creek. What if we just dissolved Bay Creek and merged with Berean Bible? We could all have a fresh start in chasing what God wants.'”
Massey smiles. “And just like that, we went from 18 members to over 40. And we’re almost 50-50 black and white. Steve even joined our staff to work with students.”
Merritt laughs. “God is so good.”
While Berean officially launches this Sunday, they’ve been preparing to launch for months now. They’ve redone the inside of the church building, done extensive work on the property, and have even attracted several visitors to their preview services, despite not publicizing to the community at large.
“There’s been some Sundays where we ran out of seats,” Massey says. “But that’s a great problem for a church to have.”
This Sunday, the church is preparing for plenty of company–in addition to the service itself, the church’s Discipleship ministry is hosting a chili fest immediately after service from 12:30 until 2:30. They will provide chili, desserts, and plenty of fun activities for kids, all with the hopes of spending time with the people of Grayson and Loganville. The food will be provided by the various Community Groups from the church; Merritt says the small, in-home groups are Berean’s strategy for not only reaching people, but helping them grow as individuals.
“We want to get to know people, and let them get to know us,” Merritt says.
The corner church at Hope Hollow and Cooper Roads has certainly undergone some big changes. But they’re not too worried about it because they anticipate that transformation will simply be part of their church’s DNA.
“In a year, we hope we’ll have seen even more changes,” Massey says. “That’s because we expect God to do great things.”
The official launch service of Berean Bible Church is this Sunday, October 25th at 11:00 AM. The service will be immediately followed by the Chili Fest from 12:30 until 2:30 PM. For more information, you can visit the Berean Bible Church website.