MOODY — Matt Scott said his church is bearing much fruit, and it is slightly overwhelming.
“Everyday,” he said. “Absolutely.”
Since its first Sunday in January 2011, The Gathering Place — a United Methodist congregation that began at Moody High School with 189 people — has seen its congregation swell to over 700 in two services, now meeting at the former site of Raceway corporate headquarters on Park Avenue (St. Clair 10). Scott says church officials are preparing to add a third service, and exploring options for a second campus.
“We prayed for all these people,” he said. “Now they’re here, and we have to figure out what to do with them.”
Scott, 33, is the son of pastor Robin Scott, now a district superintendent in the North Alabama Conference. He said he felt the call to ministry “early in life,” but did not answer it until later. His first role was as a youth minister in Palmerdale; there, he says he felt called to become a “church planter.”
“I prayed about it,” he said. “And I just asked God, ‘If this is Your will, show me the avenue in which to do it.’ Shortly after that, I was contacted about planting a church.”
Originally intending to plant in Alabaster and then in Leeds, Scott said they approached officials in Moody about using the high school as a church facility.
“Dale Stripling was the principal there, and he had coached me when I was at Pinson Valley,” Scott said. “It was an easy thing to use the facilities here.
“Our third choice was definitely the right choice.”
After 10 months at the high school, Scott said the facility on Park Avenue became available. As a licensed local pastor, he says the church is a prime spot to attract “unchurched” residents.
“Our mission was to create a space that was conducive and inviting to unchurched or dechurched people,” he said. “We were intentional about our desire to be a church where unchurched people felt welcome to come, and to invite their unchurched friends.
“We believe the reason God wanted us to plant a church is to reach His lost children.”
The church hosts two contemporary services, at 9 a.m. and 10:45. Scott described the atmosphere as “relaxed.”
“A building can be very intimidating,” he said. “We allow people to eat in the sanctuary. We do a lot of things people consider unorthodox, while staying very deeply rooted in Scripture.”
Additionally, the focus of the church is deeply rooted in missions, both local and abroad. Scott said members take “four to six” mission trips outside the country each year, and takes part in “50 to 100” local mission projects two times per year in an event called “City Wide.”
Scott said family ministry is also a high priority for the church — The Gathering Place Christian Academy, in its first year, serves students “6 weeks through 6th grade,” according to Scott.
“We have 30-plus teachers on staff,” he said. “We have registration next week, and it will fill up in one day.”
Scott is married to Stevi, and the two have five children: daughter Elliott, 7; son Elijah, age 5; daughter Ellison, 4; and 10-month-old twins, Emmerson and Emmett.
Though he admits being overwhelmed at times, Scott says the church is fulfilling his personal passion.
“It’s not a job to me,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to do the thing I love most. It does come with stress.
“Whenever you walk toward the messes of people’s lives, it is stressful. But that’s what we’re called to do.”
For more information on The Gathering Place, visit gpchurch.tv, or call 205-640-2715.