“My heart breaks for my friends who don’t know Christ,” says Chris Springer, a 20-year-old student at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. The native of Waldorf, Md., believes that the best way to reach non-believers is through the local church.
For that reason he has joined with Mike and Connie Pumphrey in planting Awaken Church, a developing Grace Brethren congregation that will meet weekly beginning in March in the revitalized Town Center area of Virginia Beach.
As a full-time student majoring in Christian ministries (and minoring in government), Springer’s plate is plenty full. Yet he finds time to help with the details surrounding a fledgling church plant.
“I guess you would call me a jack-of-all trades,” he says. He helps Mike Pumphrey, the church planter, with administrative tasks and financial record-keeping. When ministry teams visit, he’s the one making arrangements for their lodging and helping train them in their tasks.
But he says his most important role is that of relationship-builder. Between classes, you’ll find him hanging out in the library with other students. “I do all my homework out and about,” he admits. “I put myself in the community where people will see me. It’s a shift in thinking from what I used to do,” he adds.
He says that he’s been careful not to become enveloped in a Christian “bubble.” He spends time with friends at a nearby secular university and he’s contemplating joining a local fitness club.
“We don’t want only to have a church of Christian people, we want to reach the lost.”
“What we’re doing isn’t any amazing plan,” Springer emphasizes, noting that most of the core team at Awaken Church follows a similar philosophy. “I’ve come to realize that how we live on a day-to-day basis (building relationships to reach others) is how all Christians should live. It is easy to coast through the day and never interact with people.”
He quotes Bob Combs, the recently-retired pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Norton, Ohio – “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“If you take interest in them, get to know them for who they are, then you can show them Christ’s love,” Springer says.