Reaching Out to the Community and the World
By Andy Rector
In 2018, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, experienced gains in many ways. “It truly was a year of growth,” said Dave Stone, senior pastor.
Growth occurred in evangelism: “The majority of people who were baptized in 2018 were baptized by the person who led them to the Lord,” Stone said.
Growth occurred with the facilities: Construction began on the Chapel in the Woods, only a quarter mile from the main campus. The chapel is designed for weddings, funerals, and worship.
There also was numeric growth: “Our attendance grew more than any year in the past 16,” Stone said. “In fact, every campus grew, and all of this happened in spite of the fact that we didn’t start a new multisite campus in 2018.”
All six campuses continued to reach out to their surrounding communities during the year. “Our people have a heart for service, and they are deeply involved throughout our region,” Stone said.
People at each site helped their neighborhoods by mentoring students and building frames for houses—27 in total—for those in underserved areas. Southeast also continued its “Celebrate Christmas Together” program.
“It is our gift to the community,” Stone said. “It’s free and has become a great encouragement and outreach for those who maybe can’t afford many Christmas activities. It is a nonthreatening and easy invite for our members to get co-workers and friends inside of Southeast.”
Southeast satellite campuses continued to serve beyond their local communities by reaching out to the world. For example, all six campuses worked together to pack 1 million meals to help with famine relief in Africa.
Southeast’s Elizabethtown, Kentucky, location, which opened in 2017, began last year by packing 44,000 meals.
“Entire families can serve together,” said Michael Kast, campus pastor at E-town. “I love looking across the room and seeing moms, dads, and kids serving together, shoulder to shoulder. Even though the jobs were fairly simple, the food made a huge impact to those in need.”
During July, Southeast’s lowest attendance month, the church rolled out “At the Movies,” a sermon series designed to make it easy for people to invite their friends to church.
“It caught some real momentum,” Stone said. “It grew each week, as people who had never invited a person to church invited freely. Somehow, other than Easter, it became our highest attendance month of the year. God truly showed up and it gave us great momentum going into the fall.”
And fall is when Stone announced he will pass the baton of leadership at Southeast to Kyle Idleman sometime this year. “He’s been given more and more leadership responsibilities and our members are excited for him to lead,” Stone said.
Idleman said he feels both humbled and confident as he assumes his new role.
“Beginning with my dad [Ken Idleman], and then Bob Russell and Dave Stone, I have had a front-row seat to see leaders who walk in true humility and integrity,” he said. “I am especially grateful for the way Dave lives that out. Not everyone gets to follow someone they genuinely love and respect. I don’t take it for granted.”
The handoff to Kyle Idleman has been “carefully planned for years,” Stone said. “The future looks brighter than ever for Southeast.”
Andy Rector is a writer and graphic designer from Louisville, Kentucky.