I have been looking forward to making this announcement for some time. The reason is simple: I want to share with you the realization of a 10 year dream. It is a dream that began in college, and God has kept aflame in my heart ever since. That dream is the launching of a new church – specifically Discovery Church.
Now the first question that comes to many peoples’ minds is “why plant a new church, especially here in the East Tennessee area?” The answer is two-fold: 1) I firmly believe God said to. Not that I heard an audible voice, but I have not been able to let loose or even want to do anything else with my life than plant a church. Life isn’t always about doing what is easy, or seems to make the most sense. Life is ultimately about following God with all of your heart, soul and mind. 2) The Knoxville area doesn’t need a new church. Yes, you read correctly, it does not need a new church. However, Knoxville is desperately in need of different kinds of churches.
Less than 21% of Knox County residents attend church. Less than 21%! The numbers in the surrounding counties are even worse.
Here is a huge problem: 95% of our churches are trying to reach the same group of people. A subtle generational divide has taken place over the last 25 years. No longer do children inherit the beliefs and assumptions about God and church that their parents had. A generation is being lost, not because they don’t like Jesus, but because they don’t like the church or are not connecting to it in it’s current form.
Whether it is intentional or not, most of our churches are not reaching our current culture. Many churches are stepped with traditions, methods and messages that are not bad, but do not connect or resonate with new generations. Young Americans between the ages of 18-35 are spiritually in peril. This generation, my generation, is almost entirely absent from the church. Yet, they are making the most critical decisions of their lives: who to marry, how to raise children, career choices – all without Jesus Christ and the spiritual foundation of a church.
God’s vision, that He has chosen to put in my heart and call me to, is to start a church that will be strategically focused to reach a culture in the Bible belt that is unchurched, de-churched and anti-church. If we miss this generation, my generation – there will be no Bible belt in 50 years. That is what Discovery Church is all about. Helping people far from God discover Jesus, and discover life!
Unworthy but His,
Brad Raby, Lead Pastor
P.S. We are having our first “Vision Cast” cookout to talk about the heartbeat of what Discovery Church will be like this Sunday night @ 6pm. The cookout will be at my house, any and all are welcome – just go to our website and RSVP!