Faith Harvest Church in Lenoir City recently welcomed two new pastors to the staff and hopes to continue expanding.
The Rev. Phillip Smith, senior pastor, arrived at Faith Harvest 3 1/2 years ago. Until January, he was the only pastor on staff. He envisioned expansion but needed to make infrastructure changes.
“But as we got to a certain point, there were only so many changes I could implement myself,” Smith said. “Trying to bring on some additional help just to help keep that ball rolling and keep us moving toward becoming a healthy, reproducing church. That’s when you kind of have to bring on some help or pray that help shows up. … These guys and a few others just showed up, and we kind of started building relationships together.
“… I think one of the ways we described it is we have this puzzle with pieces missing, and all of a sudden these pieces just started showing up, and we’re twisting this one around going, ‘Oh, that fits right there,’ and we all kind of went, ‘All right, Jesus, let’s go,’ and that’s kind of what happened,” he added.
The church in January hired the Revs. Andrew Murray, student pastor, and Joseph Noah, administrative pastor.
Murray and Noah came to Faith Harvest with a group looking for a home church. The duo has served together in ministry for nearly five years but have known each other since working as counselors at a summer camp in 2013.
Murray said he, his wife and their friends were looking for a church that matched their vision and style of worship. While they visited several churches in the area, they said Faith Harvest was a match.
“We ended up visiting here, and when we came in the doors, it was immediately a warm atmosphere,” Murray said. “We knew a lot people that attend here and a lot of the volunteer staff and things like that were just really, really welcoming. They really just kind of brought us in and loved on us. They seemed really, truly interested in who we were and what we’re about. At that time I don’t think they really knew that I was seeking a role to serve students. It just felt really good to come into a place that had a real, rich atmosphere and felt like everyone just wanted to get to know each other and connect with people.”
Murray said he has always felt called to serve students.
Noah previously was in an administrative role with Murray.
“When we were looking for a church home as a group together, I just anticipated I would be below (Murray) again, and then Phil found out my calling wasn’t student ministry but administrative ministry,” Noah said. “Then the gears just changed, so we began focusing more on me serving the whole church, not just student ministry, administratively. In coming here, our group was looking for a church home. When the conversations were rolling, we started learning each other’s gifts and abilities, our passions, and that’s just where I landed.”
Murray said his goal with student ministry is to create disciples of children and teens.
“Teenagers are being pulled in a lot of directions,” he said. “The things they see on the TV and radio and just kind of where society wants us to be doesn’t necessarily always align with what Christ would have and what the Bible says. Definitely my goal is just to disciple them and help them dig into the word deeper, and if they haven’t already established a relationship with Christ, that’s my goal is to lead them to him. Then help them understand how to navigate the Bible. It can be tricky. There’s a lot there, and we want to help break it down to a level they can understand and then reproduce it and multiply and go and make disciples themselves.”
Noah has emphasized creating a church environment that will reach into the community. He wants others to have the same close relationship with Jesus that he does.
Church administration involves many roles on any given Sunday, such as operating audio and visual equipment, teaching young children and delivering messages, Noah said. He wants people to be willing to share their jobs and teach others how to fill the role.
“One thing that I always kind of teach the department heads is that we don’t want to do things ourselves,” Noah said. “We want to teach other people how to do what we need to do. … We have 35 positions on Sunday mornings that are serving. My goal is to make sure all of those people are reproducing ourselves, so that we can multiply out of this facility, outside of this faith family.
“When we multiply that way, the church is just alive, and then we don’t have to train this group of people to do this, this group of people to do that,” he added. “… The church multiplies itself, and that’s the ultimate goal I want to get to — that the church is alive, and we are reproducing ourselves as Christians, but we’re also reproducing ourselves and the skills and trades we have.”