LifeBridge Church has begun meeting at the Historic Loudon Theater on Grove Street in Loudon on every third Sunday of the month.
The church, which started with a Bible study group in the home of the Rev. Ryan Moore, held its first worship night in August and has scheduled another service for Sunday.
Moore said his mission is to sustain the monthly worship services until regular weekly worship services are possible at the theater.
“We considered how fast Loudon is growing and we believe with all the new people coming in we could help reach the community,” he said.
A graduate of Loudon High School, Moore lives in Loudon. While studying accounting at Tennessee Tech, he served four years as a pastoral intern at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville.
He has also served as an associate pastor at several churches in Knoxville and is currently studying online for a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Moore has a long association with First Baptist Concord in Farragut. LifeBridge is an outgrowth of the Rise865 program launched by the megachurch in west Knox County.
“Ryan and his group are a part of the Rise865 initiative,” FBC Senior Pastor John Mark Harrison said.
Rise865 was created to help start-up churches build congregations all over the 865 area code of east Tennessee, Harrison said.
“If they are feeling they want to start a church, we want to help them,” he said.
One of the first churches started as a part of the program is Belmont Heights Baptist Church in Westview, which was launched in August 2021.
The broader goals of the initiative involve increasing the number of people going to church so that by 2030 the 865 area code is 1% less unchurched. The achievement of the initiative can be measured using statistics such as population divided by the number of new baptisms.
“We want to have an impact on the region,” Harrison said.
He said Rise865 is available to help jump-start small churches like LifeBridge by providing support for activities such as ministries, sports and other special needs.
“We want to provide all the resources we can deploy to help churches make more disciples,” he said.
Moore said the mission of LifeBridge is to inspire people to follow Jesus, find community, build strong families and be a part of a movement that helps the city.
“Helping Loudon is a big part of our mission,” Moore said.
The congregation currently contains a large number of young families but includes senior adults. Moore said he could tell during the first worship service that the congregation felt comfortable with the message he was delivering.
“We didn’t know how they would connect, but they connected,” he said.
Moore said he chose the theater in Loudon because the facility had enough room but wasn’t so big the congregation felt small in the space.
The theater also had the necessary lighting and sound equipment to create a stage atmosphere he envisions will attract more young worshippers. He said contemporary Christian music is a part of the services.
“When someone who maybe has never been to church but listens to Christian worship radio, it would be the music they are familiar with,” Moore said.
His goal is to build the congregation from the current base of about 60 worshippers. The theater can hold roughly 150.
“The average size Southern Baptist church is about 75 people,” Moore said. “We have the intention of staying in the theater even after we go weekly.”
Moore said the congregation will help the Rise865 goal of introducing thousands of new people to a relationship with Jesus. He said there are different ways of doing the math, but a rough calculation of the overall goal would be around 7,000 new churchgoers across east Tennessee.
He said the connection with First Baptist Concord will continue, including contributing to mission work in Loudon and internationally.