This past Sunday I had the privilege of attending Ridge Stone Church in Canton, Georgia.
Man, was I blown away!!! Not so much by the technology, set up or
location (they were all great, it’s just everybody has that stuff these days) I
was blown away by the people.
First of all, Ridge Stone meets in the biggest movie theater I have ever
seen. The screen itself has to have a listing in the Guinness Book of
World Records. Therefore, the volunteers actually set up a large stage
across the front of the room – along with enough sound, lighting and video to
power a small rock concert.
Secondly, the lobby set up is pretty inviting. From the coffee, to the
music playing, to the basket of goodies in the bathroom to the information
center – it all says "welcome".
However, as I said before, what makes Ridge Stone special is not the
"stuff" . . . it’s the people. From the leadership, to the
volunteers, to the musicians, to the regular attenders – there was an
excitement in the air! It was like they were expecting great things to
take place. There was none of the half-hearted, "Gosh, do we have to
set up for another Sunday?" attitude in the room like I’ve seen at other
church plants. There was buzz. There was electricity. There
was an infectious joy about the folks at Ridge Stone. It was so
contagious you couldn’t help but be caught up in it.
Also, Ridge Stone is one friendly church. I mean really friendly. I wasn’t like the some planned out,
rehearsed, fake friendliness. It was
genuine. From the host team to the tech
team to the people drinking coffee in the lobby – they love seeing folks come
through the doors!
I arrived early in order to meet Gary Lamb (we’ve emailed
back and forth for a year, but never actually met in person until this past
weekend) and to shoot some photos. That
didn’t stop folks from halting the set up to come over to shake my hand. It didn’t stop there. While shooting pictures of the morning band
rehearsal, several members of the tech team walked over to shake my hand. When I was having coffee in the lobby several
folks with kids walked over to shake my hand. Every where I went there was a friendly, inviting atmosphere. It wasn’t over done or sappy . . . just
Finally, there were the volunteers!!! Ridge Stone is what it is today because of
God working through the volunteers. That’s not to take away from Gary and the other staff, but the
volunteers are the back bone of the church.
The volunteers start setting up around 5:00 AM every Sunday morning. It is like a well-oiled machine. They’re loading equipment, setting up
lighting trusses, running cable, putting out coffee, constructing stage props,
tweaking sound gear, getting the childcare area ready, placing the signs, etc. After all this is done, then they work in
leadership in areas they just set up. When the service is done, they stick around to tear it all down and pack
it all up. Week after week they do this
. . . all with a smile on their face. In all my years of visiting churches and observing church plants, I have
never seen anything like it!!!
Over the past year many folks have blogged about Ridge Stone
and Gary. Almost every posting says they
are “getting it done”. I second that
statement. Ridge Stone and its
leadership planted a church the right way! Not based on technology, location or target marketing. They based it on loving the unloved,
connecting with the disconnected and providing hope for those that have lost hope in the church. Every church plant team
should visit Ridge Stone before they plant. Not to gather new ideas, but to embrace the spirit with which a true New
Testament church plant is all about.
Thanks to Gary and Ridge Stone for inspiring me. You guys are golden!!!