They do so many things outside the church that I think of them as “a church in shoe leather” — walking out the Gospel in multiple ways.
Like the Bible, they seem to say, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).
A glowing example is their “Merry Christmas Mobile” project when, in 2012, they gave away to the needy 600 boxes of groceries with enough to feed a large family, along with a turkey.
They also gave toys to 500 needy children, and they have carried on this project for 12 years.
Mobile, a coastal city of nearly 200,000, learns about “Merry Christmas Mobile” each December through television, newspaper, handbills, and word of mouth.
All the needy are invited. The event takes place on Sunday and recipients must attend the morning worship service, where they hear a gospel message.
Named Pathway Church, the congregation is led by senior pastor Joey Turman, administrative pastor Andric Daugherty, and worship pastor Alan Malloy.
The administrative staff is college-trained, and are all down-to-earth people with a driving force to help others in need and to tell everyone of Christ’s saving power.
The Christmas giveaway is just part of the ministry of this selfless congregation. For example, at the beginning of each public school year they give backpacks, two shirts and a pair of slacks to students in need. (The schools require uniforms).
Sometimes as many as 200 volunteers are working like bees to help the community. Some of the projects have included:
- Renovating the Girls & Boys Clubs
- Building handicap ramps for homes
- Remodeling homes for those needing help
- Doing disaster relief, such as a team to Tuscaloosa after the devastating tornado.
The anchor of this progressive church is its emphasis on Christ and His power to convert, to change, and to grow. Regularly, people are being born again at the altar.
Their biblical education program is exemplary. Like many churches, they have Sunday school, along with two worship services. Classes are called “groups,” and that term is used throughout the church. A group runs regularly, but has Bible study and prayer beforehand. The same is true of a group of males who swim in the Gulf in season.
The choir is a Bible study group, and there are numerous other groups learning the Bible together throughout the week, but mostly on Wednesday evening. A large, open-study group meets in the sanctuary that evening also.
Christ said, “Occupy [do business] until I come back.” The thrust of Pathway Church is doing the business of God.
The Sunday I was present, the entire service was so wholesome, spiritual, and well planned that I was genuinely blessed and challenged. Pastor Turman preached a powerful sermon on the importance of God’s Word.
Now, a word about the music. There were no hymnals; all words were projected on a screen — choruses from Scripture or Scripture-related themes.
The instruments were not too loud — I learned later that the sound controller has a decibel meter with which he keeps the sound below a certain decibel. Wish some other churches knew about that! Did you ever feel your insides vibrate from the loudness of a bass drum and a bass guitar?
My generation may not like today’s changes in worship. Also, God may not have planned all the changes, but they are here and God is using them. Perhaps it is time for my generation to just get over it!
Sitting all around me that Sunday were young couples, attracted to the church by the changes in worship and they were being blessed by the powerful message of the Gospel. Isn’t that what it is all about?