By Laura Camby McCaskill
TAYLORS—One pastor has a passion to reach the unreached with new options for those who come to worship.
Dr. Clay Faulk and his wife, the Rev. Beth Faulk, have been serving Lee Road United Methodist Church, Taylors, since 2017. Now, with the help of the Greenville District and other community and church support, they and a team of others have raised the funds to convert a gym next door into a new worship space they call “Connect Church.”
“I talked to a friend of mine and I said it would really be great if I could help churches that need help in (the) area (of) growing and reaching people,” Clay Faulk said. “I was one of those people. I stayed away from church from the ages of 13-21. I wasn’t active; I had a bad experience when I was 13.”
Former pastor of Providence Church in Southeast Texas, Faulk is a graduate of North Carolina State, earned his Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Austin Theological Seminary. In March 2017, Faulk and his wife, Beth, moved to Lee Road as co-pastors.
Along with Faulk, the core group and steering committee for the creation of Connect Church included Steve Frantz, Jimmy Gaddy, Jim Gilliam, Carlie Stevens, Karen Moffett, Kyle Brazell, Laura Moffett and Trace Silvers.
“Connect Church happened because people saw a vision of what could be,” Faulk said.
Through a fundraising campaign, they raised $175,000. Of that, $24,000 came from a district grant.
“We did a renovation of the gym and turned it into Connect Church,” Faulk said, “We were able to imagine what that might look like as a worship space.”
Just before Easter, Connect Church opened its doors right beside Lee Road. Connect Church is run by the same council and staff as Lee Road UMC but considers itself its own entity. Connect Church has a contemporary worship service at 11 a.m. every Sunday, and Lee Road offers a traditional service at 10 a.m.
“We wanted a sense of something new, something different,” Faulk said. “(For) people that don’t know church, it’s a different view of what they had perceived. It’s a different feel. We have a wonderful traditional church, Lee Road, and a wonderful contemporary church, Connect Church.”
Connect Church’s mission statement is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
“My goal is to do what Jesus did, to reach people who aren’t being reached. I look at people that ride by as, ‘They just don’t know yet; they don’t know yet that God loves them.’ Maybe they had a bad experience,e or maybe they haven’t understood the love of God. Sometimes, I believe, people don’t know church can be a great place to be,” Faulk said.
Faulk said Lee Road has been going through a time of transition, both losing some members and gaining new members. Connect Church has been enjoying attendance of about 80 people each week.
“We’re trying to move forward. Change is hard. Everything does change and continues to change,” Faulk said.
He said he’s learned over the years that creating a very casual and enjoyable worship service can be appealing to all ages, races and backgrounds.
“I believe there are a lot of churches, United Methodist churches, across South Carolina that can take this model and copy it and do the same thing,” Faulk said. “It offers a chance to revitalize and reach people—new people that aren’t coming to church.”
Faulk said he believes God put him on this planet to help churches do this.
“Every church I’ve been in, I’ve tried to leave it better than I found it, (to) reach people,” Faulk said. “I pray that Lee Road and Connect Church will continue to grow and reach people that aren’t being reached. That’s what I prayed for the last church, this church and any other church I work for in the future. It’s a wonderful thing to lead people to Christ. Even if one person comes to Christ, all of Heaven rejoices. Everything we did up to that point was worth it.
“If this article will help another church do something like this and again change one person’s life, all this is worth it.”
To learn more about Connect Church, email [email protected].
By Laura Camby McCaskill