Clayton pastor picked to lead church starters

ndunn@newsobserver.comJuly 7, 2014 

Andy Hale, pastor of Mosaic in Clayton, will oversee church-starting efforts for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDY HALE

Services at Clayton’s Mosaic and First Baptist churches are different, but pastors Andy Hale and Mark White are OK with that.

Hale was an associate pastor at First Baptist before helping launch Mosaic, a more-contemporary church that meets at a fitness center off of Shotwell Road.

“We didn’t start (Mosaic) because we thought the local church was doing something wrong,” Hale said. “There is an understanding that there are different types of churches that are needed.”

White agrees.

“They would reach someone who may not even be comfortable in a traditional church building,” White said of Mosaic. “There’s been some mistrust in the millennial generation of institutions in general. A new church-start like Mosaic is less institutional-seeming to them.”

The 30-year-old Hale, who has lived in Clayton for about 10 years, is now taking his approach to the national level, leading church-starting efforts for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. In that role, he will help people interested in building new churches complete the planning, envisioning and discernment processes.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, headquartered in Decatur, Ga., is a group of nearly 1,800 affiliated churches, regional fellowships and ministry partners that put an emphasis on “freedom in Biblical interpretation and congregational governance,” “the participation of women and men in all aspects of church leadership,” and “Christian ministry and religious liberty for all people,” according to its website.

Harry Rowland, director of missional congregations for the fellowship, said supporting church-starting has been part of the group’s DNA since its founding 24 years ago.

“We have tried to put a system in place that helps people discern their call and gives them the support they need and then work with them,” Rowland said.

People who want to start churches come together first online and then attend an exploratory conference before they are commissioned. The fellowship then provides one year of coaching and connects each church-starter to local groups in the community.

Hale came to the fellowship for support when he envisioned a new church in Clayton. He and a core group of about five people, including his wife Jennifer, looked to build a congregation that wasn’t defined by Sunday mornings, he said.

Mosaic, which opened in 2011, hosts community group sessions and play dates for children and their parents. Its offerings are far from traditional: A theological group meets at Clayton Beverage Company, a beer store, and another group gets together to watch “The Walking Dead,” a TV show about zombies.

“We want to support each other, live life together and serve alongside one another in the community,” Hale said.

First Baptist Church, where Hale worked mainly as a youth minister, helped sponsor Mosaic in its creation. White said the churches still work together.

“We really see ourselves as partners, not competitors,” he said.

Hale also works at the Smithfield Rescue Mission and Stephenson Insurance Agency in Clayton. He said his new role with the fellowship will not interfere with his duties at Mosaic. “It’s always been my hope to be a bi-vocational pastor,” he said.

Rowland said the fellowship chose Hale because of his track record and passion for the church.

“The fact that he is loved in the church and is a church-starter will really be a plus for those who are interested in that,” Rowland said. “He will be a good resource for those who are discerning that and thinking about that.”

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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