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Anatomy of A Growing Church

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2024 5:30 pm

Anatomy of A Growing Church

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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May 29, 2024 5:30 pm

Stu Talks with Pastor Andrew Hopper of Mecy Hill Church. 

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Hello, this is Matt Slick from the Matt Slick Live Podcast, where I defend the Christian faith and lay out our foundations of the truth of God's Word. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds.

Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Stu Epperson, you hear a lot about mega churches and church growth and a lot of people and a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, and so we found one of these pastors of one of these churches that is growing and going and glowing and sending out people all the time. They've launched a new podcast, they have a program that's growing and getting a lot of feedback, positive, encouraging feedback on the Truth Network, and I was able to track this pastor down.

I don't even know how I got him on the air. He's speaking, he's doing sessions, he's leading a vibrant church, he's just pastors, he's a husband, he's a father, he is Pastor Andrew Hopper of Mercy Hill Church based in Greensboro, North Carolina, but rapidly growing all over the place. Pastor Hopper, God bless you, man, good to have you with us. Man, it's awesome to be here, Stu, thanks for inviting me on, brother. Well, it's good to have you on, and good to put you in the hot seat, because if anyone ever wanted to have issue with a growing church, sometimes they call them mega churches, they say, this is the problem today.

Well, you're in the hot seat, but I'm excited because you're trying to grow. Tell us the story of Mercy Hill, give us the background. You guys just started with a handful of couples in Greensboro, North Carolina, and now you're everywhere. Well, man, we praise God for what he's done, and he's breathed life into our church.

When I was 28 years old, me and a group of 30 people that were all young adults, a third of that team was college students. We moved, we were very fortunate to be discipled and forged at a church that is very well known in Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina, called the Summit Church. A good friend of yours and mine, Pastor J.D. Greer, really kind of raised us up in terms of teaching me ministry and that kind of thing. So yeah, in 2012, we moved over to Greensboro, North Carolina, with the vision of planting a church that would grow and send people out to the nations.

And man, it just kind of took off. I mean, there's a lot that has happened, and we can talk about any other story you want to, but in general, we started here in a clubhouse, Burrell Park, in a clubhouse at night. Actually, we started in my backyard and then moved to a clubhouse, meeting at night, grew to a couple services there, ended up moving to a rented location, and man, our church broke 1,000 in attendance on our second birthday. We went multi-side on our fourth birthday, and it's just been a story of God's faithfulness. We've seen a lot of people come to Christ, we've baptized a ton of people, and now we're in that process of really multiplying and sending a lot of people out to the nations and to plant other churches.

Wow, what a story. And we do want to hear more about some of those details, and you guys had just a spectacular Easter, was baptized in so many. I guess a couple questions to throw out there, and by the way, he's pastor of Mercy Hill Church, a church that's growing like crazy. They've already planted a bunch of churches, we want to talk about that too.

He's also host of a radio program called Made for More, which is about to become even bigger, and it's about to get a whole repackaged sound recalibrated. Can I tell them, pastor, are we allowed to announce it yet? Yeah, do it now.

Do it now. Well, it's the name of your podcast which has really taken off, because you really have a heart to help other churches breaking barriers. Why that name, and why is this so strategic right now for your church and for the Church Universal?

Well, it's twofold for us, Stu. The first thing is the way the podcast and the ministry has really kind of grown out of Mercy Hill Church. That part of it at first has been towards other churches and really just trying to help other pastors grow so they can go. We see a real connection between church growth and church sending. So, man, if we're going to send people out to the nations, send people out to plant other churches, those people come from the harvest.

We tried very hard to keep Acts 2-41 connected to Acts 2-42-47. It is from the thousands that are being harvested that the discipleship of the church happens. We want to help other churches, so we're a very practical ministry to help other churches grow so they can go. We do one-day events. We have a conference in the fall. We have a podcast. We have a cohort. We take five churches 18 months at a time.

We meet quarterly, and we've been able to see just some off-the-charts things with them in terms of their growth. But it's not just about churches and pastors. It's also about sort of getting away from the limited thinking that many of us have and trying to break through, always breaking through the next barrier of growth that God has for us personally. Man, we just really feel like the Lord is kind of calling us into deeper waters every day of our life, all of our life.

And, man, we don't want to get static. We don't want to get stale. We want to keep pushing and asking the Lord to do more in us and through us. We really believe that people are made for more than possessions and promotions, and their kids are made for more than straight A's and soccer. And that's every single believer. And so we just want to help them grow, man.

Yeah, wow. You know, you could call this segment the anatomy of a church that is growing and going for Christ. It's Mercy Hill Church, and they're not the only ones, but we were able to track down Pastor Andrew Hopper. It's strategic because effective next week, some of you are going to hear his daily teaching program under the new name, Breaking Barriers, a daily 25-minute program of his Bible teaching. And Pastor Hopper, when we look at all the marks of a healthy church and all the things you all are doing in discipleship, in missions, in sending, and really making people uncomfortable, a lot of this goes back to the teaching of God's Word. Will you talk about why the supremacy of the Word is so important, is so foundational to your ministry at Mercy Hill and to any church that's going to grow?

Absolutely. Well, we just look at the book of Acts and we look at the New Testament, and what we see is that almost everyone who came to Christ, in terms of the recording of the story throughout the book of Acts, did so when there was an anointed man preaching the gospel and there was a crowd. And that's not the only way people come to Christ. There are people that have high evangelism gifts and they're very apt at sharing the gospel, and even for people who don't have an evangelism gift, we need to equip the church to be sharing the gospel in the workplace, in their neighborhood, and I'm passionate about that. But the reality is that most people in the New Testament and in our churches today, when the Lord moves, he does so in a moment under the conviction from the Spirit brought by the preaching of the Word, and we just don't shy away from that. I do think that there are some who have kind of tried to move away, that the power is not in the preaching moment, and certainly it's not restricted to that. But, you know, more times than not, if you were to walk into a church and you said, hey, if you got saved and there was more than one person here and someone was preaching, whether that was a youth camp, children's camp, or just an everyday church service, or a Sunday night service, or whatever it is in churches all across America, most people that were saved would raise their hand. And we just really believe that that is a form and a model for us, and so we model our services off of the centerpiece being, you know, a 30 to 40 minute didactic deep dive into the Word of God, because we believe that's where his Spirit is going to move, and that's where the power is.

I mean, there's truly a power there that divides the heart and gets into us, and so we really want to make that shine. That's the voice of Pastor Andrew Hopper, the pastor, the senior pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and they've planted churches. Where all has God used your church to plant churches, Pastor? Yeah, so in the last four years, we've really begun to parent churches, and we make that distinction between parenting and partnering. We partner with a lot of churches before that, you know, we helped other churches get started, but about four years ago, five years ago now, we started to parent churches, and that means, man, elders raised up from within the house, and they're trained here, equipped here. It's not like we don't utilize other training and equipping, but they're coming from in the house, they're being trained here, funded here, and paired with people from our church that feel the call to go. And so we've planted new churches in Tampa, Florida, Waynesville, North Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Roanoke, Virginia.

And we have another one coming, man. This is new, Stu, I'll break it to you, but we have another one coming next year, starting the process now in terms of moving into the residency. A young man that has been with us for 10 years, met him on the college campus at North Carolina A&T, and he is going to be moving to plant a church, I say moving, actually he's going to be planting a church right here in our own backyard. We're really excited to plant a church in our own city. So we have multi-site, we have campuses around Greensboro, High Point, North Carolina, but now we're also going to be able to plant a new, autonomous church right here as well. This is just so cool.

Okay, look, give me the website real quick. We're going to go into our last segment with you, and we're going to put you on the hot seat. We're going to talk about, you know, we so often say, well, it's not about the numbers.

Well, it is about the numbers, depending on what you mean by that. Pastor, hold your powder, but I want you to share. I'm going to put Pastor Hopper on the hot seat when we come back with that question. And why could a pastor of a church, how could a church like this church, Mercy Hill, be so collaborative? When I talk to you, you're passionate about helping other churches.

Friends, what about that? We'll ask Pastor Hopper that when we come back, and we'll give the number you to call in at toll-free, 866-344-TRUTH. Pastor, give us the website of your church real quick before we come back so people can even check you out during the break. MercyHillChurch.com. Okay, MercyHillChurch.com, new program debuting just a week from now, just less than a week from now, on the Truth Network called Breaking Barriers. Stay tuned, we'll talk to Pastor about the numbers game in the church today, 866-344-TRUTH. Any of your calls or questions after this.

Hang on. You're listening to the Truth Network and TruthNetwork.com. What is the anatomy of a growing church, a church on the move? You know, everyone's picking on the church, beating up on the church. It's like if you want to throw your darts at the dartboard, you put the church on there. The church is doing this. Well, it's full of hypocrites. Well, they're doing this.

Well, it's all, you know, it's... and there are problems. But our guest believes that the church is plan A, and he's on the air with us right now, Pastor Andrew Hopper, Mercy Hill Church. I want to say a big shout-out and thank you to our friends at Vintastic. Talking about the anatomy of health, if you care about your health, and you're looking for something, they've got this new Mighty Muscadine and Le Bleu Ultra Pure Bottled Water, have joined forces to make a beverage that offers no carb, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no calories, and I drink one almost daily, loaded with antioxidants, and a lot of folks like to stay hydrated with this, because it has all these... it's got all these dozens and dozens of antioxidants, polyphenols, things I can't even pronounce, that's all natural. Anyway, thank you, Mighty Muscadine, Le Bleu Ultra Pure Bottled Water, for graciously partnering with us and supporting, underwriting all of the great stations and all the folks involved with Truth Talk Live. Their website information is found at MightyMuscadine.com to look at all their products, to learn more about the scientific studies, they don't sell the sizzle and the fizzle, they sell the science. MightyMuscadine.com, and if you use this promo code TRUTH, they offer special savings to our Truth Talk Live audience. MightyMuscadine.com, and the promo code at that site is TRUTH. Pastor Andrew Hopper, with all the criticism and all the negative about the church today, and sure, you know, maybe some of it's warranted, but you still firmly believe at Mercy Hill Church and all your church plants and all your church partnerships that the church is God's plan A.

Is that the case? I believe that with all my heart, Stu, and I know that there's a lot of doomsday talk about the church, but when you understand that God's kingdom is advancing globally and it will not stop until the end, it really can give us a more hopeful outlook. Wow. And I lead in a men's group and I get up just about every week and say, Men, get in a church, get discipled, get in the Word. I'll send my pastor my notes, who you know, I'll send him my notes and say, Hey, if I'm outside, you're my authority, so if you need to rebuke me or come in there and get up in front of the guys, come on. And we're really, I'm just encouraged by good things and God things happening in the church today, and at your church in specific, but you also, and we've got a caller on the line, we're going to jump right to him, if you have a question for Pastor Andrew Hopper, his church is growing and they're planting and they're going, but you have a question about the numbers, if you have a question and issue, if you want to, hey, here's your, take a shot of the pastor day, come on!

He's ready for it, man, he played tight end in college football, okay, so he's a baller, and a footballer, a basketballer, he loves Jesus and God's using him and he really doesn't care who gets the credit. We're going to take our call, but Pastor Hopper, talk about that part, how, like, I mentioned other churches to you, like when we've met several times, and you're excited about what God's doing in other church plants, you're collaborative, you want to see other pastors succeed, how can that be? Well, I think you're right, I mean, I want that deeply, I grew up in a very small church world, Black Creek Baptist Association in Northeast Florida, and I understand normative-sized churches across America, and there are many people that are grinding it out and doing incredible work all across the country, and there are other guys that are struggling, and there are churches that are struggling, and I just feel like it's been taught to me my entire life that too much is given, much is required, and, man, we've been able to be kind of front row at something pretty awesome with what God is doing here, not just in our church, but in a network of churches that we're part of, and so we want to, we really want to, you know, pass on anything that we're getting, and also point all the glory, like you said, to him, one of my mentors says it like this, Jesus is the senior pastor, all of us are just Sunday school classes that are leading churches, and if you can think about it that way, then, man, you know, you want all the classes to succeed, it's not about yours being bigger, somebody else's being smaller, it's like, man, we're all one church moving forward.

I love that, every analogy breaks down, Stu, but I'm just saying that's a good way to think about it. Yeah, I love that, it's very practical, and there are young people, droves of young people, I mean, you could be critical of a church like this that's growing leaps and bounds, he's preaching the gospel and he's preaching the Word faithfully, yet all these young people are going there, and they're getting excited, and they're connecting, and they're getting in community, and this is why the church is here, and we're going to talk more about why every single person listening to my voice today should become a part of a healthy, biblical-balanced local church, and Pastor Hopper's with us, we just have a few minutes left, if you want to call it with a question for him, a comment, toll-free, 866-34-TRUTH, that's shorthand, 866-348-7884 to join us on Truth Talk Live, I'm Stu Epperson, Pastor Andrew Hopper, the host of a new coming show called Breaking Barriers, that some of you in the Truth Network audience will be hearing at this very time, starting next week, let's go to Bucksman in Dayton, Ohio, 106.5 FM, Bucksman, you're on Truth Talk Live with Stu, and Pastor Andrew Hopper, jump on in here, sir. Pastor Andrew, I do have a question, sir.

The Apostle Paul used his Roman citizenship to get out of some jams, let's just say there in the New Testament, and I love the fact that you're a student of the New Testament, sir. So many churches are Bible-believing churches, but they're not Bible-teaching churches, I have found. So at Mercy Hill, sir, do you, and Jesus also dealt with the government when he talked to Pontius Pilate, do you position your congregation to get involved in the cultural warfare that's among us all, or do you just have them refrain and say, we'll pray about this and leave it at that, sir? And I'll take your answer off the air there, Pastor Andrew, thank you, sir.

Okay, good question. Pastor, how do you handle these cultural issues, you know, the gender nonsense out there and all this stuff, you're a pastor at a church, you might offend someone if you speak to that, or abortion is another one, what do you say, Pastor? Well, I think for what you said, Stu, you said it earlier that young people are drawn, and I think there's a reason why you see some mainline denomination churches that have decided to not even just stay out of the fray, but they have decided to take an affirming position on many of these things, and what they say is, man, that's being culturally relevant. The problem, of course, is that cultural relevance and the way they're defining it has created a situation where they almost have nothing to say to culture, and when you have nothing to say, because you have no power, because you're not standing on the Word, and I'm not saying, not all of them, but many of the churches have gone down this road, then, you know, you see what follows. If you have nothing to say, there's no one that's lives are really being changed by the power of the Word, and therefore, there is sort of a dwindling. My point would be, I think that some people would say, staying away from any type of cultural issues like this is going to help your church grow.

I think the opposite happens. Now, what we don't do is, and your caller mentioned culture war, you know, I would not say we are at war to win a culture in terms of an argument. What we are trying to do is win the culture for Christ, and what we want to see is salvation more than winning on an issue. And the issues that you brought up, the Bible speaks, you mentioned sexuality, you mentioned abortion.

The Bible is so crystal clear on God's heart for these things. I think it's incumbent upon us to teach what the Word says about these things and then allow the Spirit of God to kind of move people in the different ways that they're going to be involved. For some, that may mean voting this way or that way. For some people, it might mean getting involved in the issue. We're very involved with our local pregnancy network here, for example, certainly discipling their kids to understand biblical sexuality.

There's a thousand ways that plays out. So yeah, I'm concerned with these things, but I'm not concerned primarily with winning an issue. I'm primarily concerned with teaching people to think and be formed through the Scriptures so that really every situation they approach in life, they can go back to the book and understand how God's heart for it should play out.

Yeah, very good. I mean, we have a mutual friend, Congressman Mark, right? Who's engaged, and we need godly people engaging, and you lift up the truth. You know, I'm convinced, maybe I'm wrong, I don't think a pastor needs to tell his people how to vote, because you lay down the Word and there's a framework.

It kind of becomes almost common sense. Pastor, would you agree with that? I think that, yes, teaching the Word is our primary objective. And yes, our common friend Mark, he's engaging in the political sphere in that way, and I actually love to see it. He's a great friend of mine.

We were together shooting guns last weekend, actually. But I also think about that's not more important than the principle who's formed by the Scripture or the stay-at-home mom who's formed by the Scriptures. Our conception of justice needs to be, first and foremost, to create people who understand what the Bible means by justice, and then kind of march into whatever nook and cranny they're in in society, and breathe the aroma of Christ there.

I love it. Pastor Andrew Hopper at Mercy Hill Church. We're almost out of time, Pastor. Real quick, breaking barriers.

Tell us your vision. Speak to every pastor out there, you know, about how you love them and how you want them— now you're traveling to speak in South Carolina, Florida, to different pastor associations. Speak a word of encouragement, will you, to the Church, and how breaking barriers, you want that to be a resource to everyone listening. Not a competition, but a blessing.

Exactly. So the website for breaking barriers is breakinggrowthbarriers.com, and it's a resource for pastors to help their churches grow so that they can ultimately send people out to the mission field and send people into their community and, like I said, be the aroma of Christ there in every nook and cranny of society, also to plant churches. My word of encouragement would be, Stu, and you and I have talked about this, we have the opportunity—we can't control what God is going to do with us, but we do get to control what we're asking Him for. And for churches in very rural areas, for churches that might be a megachurch, we have said it is still incumbent upon us to be dreaming big things and asking big things of the Lord.

We read a book that says in Ephesians that God can do far abundantly more than we can ask or think, and it's important that we're asking Him and we're pushing the limits of what we feel like He can do. I love it. Pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and give that Breaking Barriers website one more time for folks to learn more about this amazing resource for so many churches. They're loving it. BreakingGrowthBarriers.com. Thank you, Pastor. God bless you, and we're excited to hear this new relaunched program here soon on the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-29 19:10:01 / 2024-05-29 19:20:01 / 10

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