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New Marshall Association church targets nontraditional crowdcomment (0)

September 7, 2006

By Erica Harms

If we’ve been doing the same thing for a hundred years and getting the same results, maybe we should change the package — not the gift but the package,” said Neal McKinney, recovery pastor at the new LifePoint Church, Albertville.
That very idea led a group of former youth ministers to start this contemporary church in Marshall Baptist Association. 
McKinney, who at 28 is the oldest on staff at LifePoint, was studying at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary when Hurricane Katrina altered his plans. “The Lord completely opened the door after Katrina with the opportunity to be on staff at a new church start. I’ve always had a passion for church planting, and now I have the chance to do it.”
Since June 18 — LifePoint’s first Sunday — the church has had more than 75 people in attendance each week. And Aug. 20, the congregation’s first Sunday in a newly acquired facility on Motley Street, attendance reached 187.
When the group first began brainstorming for starting a new church, Lead Pastor Matt Brooks asked, “Why wouldn’t God start another church with this many lost people in the area? And if He’d start another church, then why not use us? And if He’d use us, then why not now?”
Brooks, who often preaches in blue jeans and a golf shirt, said, “We’re trying to create an environment where an unchurched person can come in, even as a skeptic, and have his questions answered. We want to be seeker-friendly.” 
So far, LifePoint has seen people from every age demographic get involved and its outreach continues. For example, each weekend in July, volunteers from the church set up a blow-up slide at a local apartment complex for children to play on and passed out free hotdogs.
“There’s got to be something more to church than what we’re experiencing,” Brooks said. “We asked, ‘What would happen if we just let God be God?,’ and 12 kids made professions of faith in those apartments.”
According to Randall Stoner, director of missions for Marshall Association, LifePoint wants to target a segment of the population that would not come to a traditional Sunday service, including those recovering from drug use.
McKinney said there’s a very large crystal meth problem in the area, noting that the “sheriff’s department in Marshall County says that 15 to 30 percent of the 100,000 people in the area are chemically dependent.”
One of his primary goals as recovery pastor is to establish a Celebrate Recovery group — a program that he has seen prove successful in other churches across the state — at LifePoint.
“We want to bring in ‘the least of these,’” McKinney said. “We want to reach those struggling from addictions of all kinds.”
The staff at LifePoint acknowledges that they could not reach the folks in their community as effectively without the help of several other churches. LifePoint currently has partnerships with CrossPoint Community Church, Gadsden; The Fellowship, Albertville; West Ridge Church, Hiram, Ga.; First Baptist Church, Boaz; and First Baptist Church, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
For more information, visit www.discoverlifepoint.com.

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