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Vaughn Forestís endurance ministry reaches unchurchedcomment (0)

February 24, 2011

By Norman Jameson

Riding Administrative Pastor Hardy Sellers’ passion, Vaughn Forest Baptist Church, Montgomery, bridges the “church vs. world” chasm with an endurance ministry that involves dozens of church members and their unchurched friends who love to cycle, run and swim.

Sellers, who admits his passion for endurance sports like triathlons and marathons borders on “crazy,” created Team Vaughn Forest (TVF) when people grew curious about his regimen, which includes running as early as 3:30 a.m.
He recently took 40 people to the beach to participate in a triathlon, a dozen to the 100-mile 3-State 3-Mountain Challenge bike ride and two to their first marathon.

The Montgomery Baptist Association church is hosting the Vaughn Forest Resurrection Run 10K/5K/1 mile run/walk April 23, and Sellers, a certified running and cycling coach, is holding training runs from the church on Saturdays starting in March.

All this activity is a magnet for active, unchurched people. “We just tell our people to come out and invite your friends,” Sellers said.

A 35- to 40-foot cross hangs on the outside of the Vaughn Forest Baptist facility in front of the prayer room. It serves as a gathering point, where participants in TVF events can invite their friends to meet at the cross.

TVF members also hold hands to pray before their formal competitions, and Sellers said it is not unusual for strangers to ask to join them.

He wants unchurched participants to feel, “If I ever did go to church, I’d go to a church like yours.”

Active people are passionate about their sports. Vaughn Forest shares their passion, which gives the church inroads into that population. Such activity provides members a great opportunity to make connections with their neighbors who have similar interests.

“By creating a relationship with them through biking and running, we become close friends, and once we become close friends, I can share my beliefs and invite them to church activities and minister to them in various ways,” Sellers said.

Not only has Vaughn Forest attracted new members through TVF but also the group has helped several dozen members get fit, find energy, improve mental health and lose weight.

Sellers, who has been on the church’s staff for 12 years and has been an avid fitness advocate for about seven, said two participants have lost 170 and 165 pounds and have since run a marathon.

Another participant emerged from clinical depression and lost 70 pounds.

“We have story after story of incredible things God has done through this,” Sellers said. “You could write a book.”

For more information about the Resurrection Run, visit resurrectionrun.vaughnforest.com/index.php/team-vaughn-forest.

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