“I want it to be a church for people who don’t like church,” said pastor Dr. David Guinn of Life Fellowship Baptist Church, in regard to the style he’s looking for with his new members.
The church, which officially started Feb. 1, is located in a warehouse just off Princeton Road, and doesn’t mesh well with traditional churches. Guinn, who has a doctorate in ministry, and church elder Bob Settle said they chose the location out of necessity.
Settle said they were in a situation where they could all disperse or they could form their own church after a pastor had left. The warehouse’s owners are current members of the church and offered the location after this group of around 40 people decided to collectively make a church.
From then on, Settle and other elders formed the church, tackling the lengthy process of planning, organizing and putting it together. Arduous, but necessary, obstacles have been organizing and promoting the church, filing for a tax-free exemption, and because of the non-traditional warehouse location, they needed to construct a main room to use.
At first, the warehouse owners let them set up for free before they were able to get together enough money to pay for rent.
For the first few months, Settle said the new group simply met and talked without leadership, as they were in the process of finding their pastor. They received help after joining the Holston Baptist Association, which aided in the process of finding a pastor. This process brought them to Guinn, who was looking to lead a church of similar-minded members.
Guinn said he was a little disappointed in traditional churches, and Life Fellowship is diverse without requirements about who attends and what they wear when they are attending. They have many kinds of Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics and whoever they can recruit. They’re accepting of same-sex couples, exposed tattoos and shorts and sandals at church.
“I wear shorts and sandals to our church in the summer,” Guinn said.
He said their goal is to make their members feel comfortable when they’re at church.
“I want people to find peace, joy and happiness with us,” Guinn said. “I think church should be the safest place on Earth.”
Life Fellowship doesn’t look to judge anyone, Guinn said, and it’s not his job to do anything but introduce his members to Christianity.
The church began with about 40 people, Settle said, and has basically tripled in size in the last seven months or so. He said they set out with focuses on the youth and fellowship, and that teaching “grace” will fill in the rest.
Kids from the church have been working hard recently, he said, to earn money through their work and through garnering donations to pay for a trip to the Xtreme Conference in Gatlinburg in late December. Settle said Life Fellowship has succeeded in making their kids feel just as comfortable at church as it does the adults.
For more information about Life Fellowship, call 631-0235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A correction has been made to the original article that had said a pastor had died, when, in actuality, he simply chose to leave the church.