A church whose name symbolizes its commitment to changing lives is seeking to do just that by being “a blessing in the community” on a variety of levels according to one of its co-founders.
The Rev. John Henderson and his wife, Laurie, founded Life Changing Ministry in 1999 and Henderson delivered his first sermon as the church’s pastor in 2000. Henderson, a Union native who graduated from Union High School in 1983, didn’t originally start out to be a minister. Someone else, however, wanted him in the ministry, and began a process that culminated in the founding of Life Changing Ministry five years later.
“That was the last thing on my mind,” Henderson said of being a minister. “But I received Christ in March 1994 while watching a gentleman on TV deliver a message from the word of God. Then shortly after I joined Bethel Baptist Church and a year or two later I started teaching Sunday School. Shortly after that I was called to the ministry.”
Since receiving the call to be a minister, Henderson has returned to school, getting an Associate Degree from USC Union in 2004 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Liberty University in 2010. Henderson, who began preaching in 1997, said that while his studies at Liberty were in Business Administration, the university teaches all of its courses from a biblical perspective, thus preparing its graduates not only to enter their chosen field but to also minister to those they encounter, both in a church and other settings. While getting his Business Administration degree, Henderson also took 33 hours of biblical studies at Liberty University. For the future, he said he plans to get a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling.
“I see myself as a student for life,” Henderson said.
Being a minister is challenging enough, but Henderson not only took on that challenge, he, with the help of his wife, took on the even greater challenge of starting a church. He said he did so because he felt it was what God wanted him to do in order to have the kind of ministry he felt led of the Lord to establish.
“When you have a vision of what God wants you do to, it’s very hard sometimes to do that through an existing church,” Henderson said. “I just felt led by God to start my own ministry.”
Henderson said he sought to structure Life Changing Ministry in accordance with the Bible.
“Churches are established different, but I believe church structure is very important,” Henderson said. “If we structure the church according to God’s word, then Christ is the head of the church followed by the pastor and then the congregation.”
Henderson said this understanding of the structure of the church is important to understanding the mission of the church.
“Church is not what we do, it is who we are,” Henderson said. “It is not about Sunday services or Wednesday services. Those are important, but it is about being a blessing to the community.”
For Life Changing Ministry, that blessing takes several forms, including the church’s efforts to minister to the spiritual needs of the community by ministering to its material needs.
“We have a clothing ministry that is really open all the time,” Henderson said. “We’ve got clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, a little bit of everything in the clothing room and it is all free.
“We also have a food ministry that is open always when the need arises,” he said. “We give out food boxes, about 14 or 15 of them about four or five times a year.”
In addition, Henderson said the church also has a utility assistance ministry and provides free budget counseling.
While it seeks to provide for the material needs of those less fortunate, the thrust of the ministry is, as always, about helping people finding meaning, purpose and salvation through Jesus Christ.
“Through sound biblical teaching, people will come to know who God is and then they will know their purpose for existing,” Henderson said. “It is about winning souls. It’s about helping people. It’s about helping them get peace of mind. It’s about helping them discover a purpose-filled life.”
Since it was founded more than a decade ago, Life Changing Ministry has grown from 23 members to a congregation of 85-90 members. Henderson said that while this growth and the ministry of the church is good, much remains to be done.
“We have not yet reached the potential of what we’re going to be,” Henderson said. “We have done much but much remains to be done. We have made some progress, but not to where we need to be. However, we are moving forward.
“Our vision of the ministry is to be a ministry that will minister to the needs of the people regardless of background, color, and gender,” he said. “Christ is our example and we have every intention of following Him.”
Worship services at Life Changing Ministry are held Sunday at 10 a.m. and Wednesday at 6 p.m. For more information on the church, call 429-8339.