Why Chattanooga 1st?
I asked this question for the first time when I interviewed at First Church back in 2008. I wanted to know why people would drive past all the other wonderful churches in Chattanooga to make our church their "home".
For some, the answer is relational. Chattanooga 1st is home to five generations of Nazarenes. We're a "family" church and work hard to stay connected. This sense of inter-connection is reflected in our worship... we "blend" our worship style so that everyone from the "grandparents" to the "children" enjoys our time of celebration. It's seen in our acts of service... children and teens often work alongside their parents and seniors. It's felt during the hard times when people show up to help and support one another. The most incredible part to this is that you don't have to be born into First Church to be part of the family. You just have to choose to make her your "home".
For others the answer is theological. Nazarenes are part of the Holiness Movement that so strongly influenced our nation during the late 1800's. We have a very optimistic faith. We believe that God not only forgives sin, but can give people victory over sin... he can give us the strength to walk away from the actions and attitudes that once controlled our lives (see the article titled "Entire Sanctification" under the Salvation Tab at the top of this page). This optimism (this confidence in God's transforming grace) is what helps us believe that God can re-create a life and make us fruitful sons and daughters of God... it's what helps us believe that God can renew a community and drive back the moral corruption that erodes our society. We really do believe that God can make our part of the earth a reflection of his heavenly kingdom --and we eagerly join him in that work.
Others have joined our church because they believe in the "vision". We believe that God is calling us to be the "heart" of the South Brainerd community. We are trying to become a "community church" at a time when almost all churches are drive in churches. We believe that God would have us make a practical difference in the lives of the people who live around us. So we're looking for ways to help our neighbors recreate by creating playgrounds, sport fields and walking tracks. We open our gym to sport leagues and we're working to become an emergency shelter. We've hosted community senior activities and children camps. We're starting after school programming (we're still very limited at this point) and look forward to the day when we can offer inexpensive childcare. We want our neighbors to know that they are "welcome" --that they will be loved, encouraged and helped.
Chattanooga 1st isn't for everyone... but if part of what you've read stirs your heart, I encourage you to join us for worship or give me a call. I'd enjoy meeting you and telling you more about our lovely church!