by David Bounds, SBC of Virginia Regional Missionary
A new chapter is being written in the story of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, where “It’s Not Just Church, It’s Life.” Pastor Grant Ethridge shares that “It’s Life” is more than attending church on Sunday morning—it’s about being a devoted follower of Christ every day and carrying the light of Jesus everywhere you go. At Liberty, God is at work in the church and in individual lives. According to Pastor Grant, the church has a vision of “wrapping their arms around Hampton Roads” through multi-site locations. Unlike church plants, these multi-sites are extensions of the main campus, each with a campus pastor, a praise band, and a simulcast of Pastor Grant’s message.
It’s been a journey to get to this point, beginning with the congregation’s move 15 years ago to Big Bethel Rd. and what is now known as the Hampton campus. About two years ago, Liberty opened up its first multi-site location—the Harbour View campus—which is thriving in that community. Liberty has recently launched its newest location, the Greenbrier campus in Chesapeake. Liberty Baptist Church is one church in three locations with the simple mission of “Changing Lives, Communities, and the World.”
The Greenbrier campus opened on October 4, 2015 with a full staff and a core group of 150 members from the Hampton and Harbour View campuses. Despite bad weather from a large storm that weekend, there were 997 in attendance across two services. Since then, they have averaged 640 in attendance each Sunday and an amazing 400 in Connect Groups (small groups that meet in homes).
Liberty Greenbrier’s campus pastor, Dalton Stoltz, shared the following stories of changed lives, which can’t be seen by numbers.
First, there is Lindsey, a single mom who worked for the construction company that built the Greenbrier facility. She was drawn to the Lord through the staff of Liberty Greenbrier and is presently being discipled by one of the staff members.
Next is Chris, whose wife begged him to come to church on numerous occasions, but he found ways to avoid going or created excuses why he didn’t like the church they had just attended. Through an invitation from his wife’s sister, Chris’ family attended Liberty Hampton and liked it. His excuse for not returning, however, was the 40-minute drive. That excuse disappeared when Liberty Greenbrier opened up a block from his home. Chris came to know the Lord through the prayers of his wife and the outreach ministry of Liberty Greenbrier.
Then there is Rod, a longtime member of another church, who came to the opening of Liberty Greenbrier and joined a Connect Group. This changed his life. He shares, “At Liberty, I know people on a more personal level primarily because of the Connect Group. Our multi-generational Connect Group is incredible. Different life experiences and wisdom acquired through long life make for interesting and positive group dynamics.”
There are many more stories like that. “It’s Life” is not just about what has happened in the past but also the stories yet to be told. Looking ahead, there are more chapters to be written in Liberty’s story. Liberty may be one church in three locations, but every campus’ mission is still the same: “Changing Lives, Communities, and the World.” Liberty is alive!