27 September, 2023

SPOTLIGHT: SouthBrook Christian Church Grows Through Teaching, Service

by | 6 June, 2023 | 0 comments

By Chris Moon 

SouthBrook Christian Church was one of the fastest-growing megachurches in the Restoration Movement last year. 

The Ohio church’s average attendance grew to 2,167 in 2022, a 67.4 percent jump from 2021, according to Christian Standard’s 2022 Church Report.  


Last year was one of continued rebuilding after the attendance decline that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, said Charlie McMahan, lead pastor of the congregation in Miamisburg, just south of Dayton, Ohio.  

“It’s amazing the people who still haven’t come back,” he said. “The recovery is still built on new people.” 

McMahan knows SouthBrook well. He’s only the second pastor in the 36-year history of the church—and he’s been around since 1991 . . . over 31 years. 

Southbrook was founded in 1986 by Tom Jones, who later served as executive director of Stadia Church Planting for many years. 

“It’s been quite a ride,” McMahan said. “I wanted to be at one place a long time. I got to live that out. I’m very thankful for that.” 

He compares the COVID-19 pandemic to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The two had opposite effects on the church in this country.  

American church attendance boomed following 9/11 in 2001, and it cratered following 3/11 of 2020—the date McMahan marks as the start of pandemic in the United States. On that day the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. 

At SouthBrook, attendance doubled after 9/11, McMahan said. On 3/11, something else happened. 

“On 3/11 of 2020, our church was cut more than in half,” he said. “It was an amazing reversal of what happened on 9/11.” 

He calls it the “anti-gathering.” 


So how was the church so successful in rebuilding its attendance following the pandemic? 

McMahan said SouthBrook tried to keep its messages focused on the concerns people were facing in day-to-day life in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. He listed the titles of some of the sermon series that have drawn the church’s attention during the past two years. 

“Your Inevitable Faith Crisis” addressed keeping the faith in difficult times.  

“Advice From the Most Influential Leader in History” focused on the apostle Paul, who gave ample advice to his student Timothy about how to live out the Christian faith during trials.  

“Trees and Ladders” compared the straightforward climbing of a ladder with the more complicated climbing of a tree. Life is more like climbing a tree than a ladder, McMahan said. 

“Power of Night” sought to demonstrate how the light of Christ shines more brightly in the dark. 

“Christism and Atheism” looked at how atheism compares with a life built on trust in Jesus Christ.  

 McMahan said people are hungry for direction these days. 

Bob Russell said it, ‘When the birds know there’s fresh food in the birdhouse, they will go back to the birdhouse,’” McMahan said. “I think we hit the issues people are dealing with from a biblical rationale and biblical basis.” 

The emphasis also was on personal application.  

“Here’s how it hits you today, and here’s how it hits you on Monday,” McMahan said. 


In addition to a strong focus on preaching and teaching, SouthBrook has encouraged its members to get involved in their communities throughout the week. 

In 2020, the church launched a City Lights program that divided the Dayton area into four regions and highlighted the various ways church members could volunteer in those regions.  

Sunday worship is one thing, McMahan said, but “if you don’t do ministry during the week, people aren’t going to stick.” 

In a more affluent area, church members are taking discarded furniture and giving it away in areas that are less resourced, where people could use newer beds and couches.  

This is how you “put flesh on the gospel,” McMahan said. 

The church also fed hundreds of people who were suffering in western Kentucky following the tornadoes that damaged that region in 2021. The church paid for mission trips to the region through revenue generated by the wedding venue on its campus, McMahan said. 

And now with its added attendance—McMahan said about 3,000 are attending Sunday services today—the church is looking at expanding. It might add another campus, McMahan said.  

The church already is renovating its existing campus to serve as a recreation center six days a week. 

“It’s a good problem to have. I never thought we’d get there this quickly,” McMahan said. 

Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.  

This is the fifth of several “Spotlight” articles we have planned to complement our May/June 2023 Church Report issue. 


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