BYRON -- Redeemer Church grew out of a group of people meeting in a home in Warner Robins, said Jesse Fortson, pastor of the new Byron fellowship.
They had been meeting for a while, and then I joined them as sort of their teaching pastor near the end of 2012 -- thats basically what I still am, Fortson said. We outgrew the living room after several months and found space at the Timber Ridge Preserve subdivision clubhouse in Byron. Many of us live in Byron, and we decided Bryon is strategically best suited for a church of our style.
Fortson said the church met at Timber Ridge until moving to its current location in the Hamilton Pointe Centre behind Wendys and Zaxbys off Ga. 49 west of Interstate 75.
He said the facility was perfect for the small, growing church.
We looked at remodeling an old feed and seed place, but this place was ideal, Fortson said. Were not looking at growing a mega-church but at building a smaller community of people that can replicate itself by planting other churches as we grow. This is a large enough place for now that gives us meeting space and room for children. Its really nice not having to set up and take down equipment every Sunday. We can focus on other things.
Fortson said the church, which is not affiliated with a denomination or church network, was helped in its initial startup by a generous private donation. He said the church focuses on biblical theology and being a family with a mission.
Our goal is to be a close- knit family, he said. When we cant sustain that feel because weve grown too large and start feeling more like distant cousins than brothers and sisters, we want to start another church. We believe theres a hunger for that sense of family and community. We dont have anything against humongous churches -- and there are a lot of really good, big churches around -- its just not us.
Fortson said in five years Redeemer would love to have other Redeemer churches growing in other communities. He said he believes theres room for all churches to reach out. He said Redeemer is also open to partnering with churches that share Redeemers values but may need a hand in their location.
He said Redeemers stress on biblical theology is a duty and a safeguard.
If your theology is right, then things fall into place a whole lot better as a church and as an individual, he said. If we think biblically and systematically in our worldview, were prepared to discern issues when they come up. Things as far ranging as homosexual marriage, abortion, helping the poor, how to go about relationships and how to do missions.
Fortson said inherent in Redeemers goals is to be a place where anybody can feel welcome and comfortable, where everyone can experience and grow in the love of God.
What people wear is certainly not an issue. Be comfortable. Wear what you like to wear. Of course, be modest, dont wear your bikini, but in what you wear and who you are -- just be who you are in Christ. Be part of the family. We want to make the Bible real in our lives. We want to contextualize truth when we teach and in how we live. That simply means speaking the truth in an understandable way and living it, so people can see it.
Fortson said he and others in the church have a heart for those who may love Jesus but have fallen out of love with the church as well as those who have no church experience at all.
Fortson has degrees from studies at the College at Southeastern at Wake Forest, N.C., and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has previously served in Georgia as a student pastor and lead pastor. He and his wife, Brandi, have one daughter.
Fortson serves Redeemer Church bi-vocationally and also writes for LifeWay Christian Resources series, The Gospel Project.