BYRON -- Mike and Heather Rady have long been involved in serving young people.
Heather Rady has been a children's and youth minister, and Mike Rady is a special education math teacher who's been involved in church ministry. Together they're the parents of three.
Now the two lead Pursuit Youth Ministry, a non-denominational ministry they say is for young people in passionate pursuit of Jesus.
"The group's name comes is from a verse in the Psalms that asks how a young person can keep their way pure," Mike Rady said. "It answers the question saying it's by passionately pursing God's word. That's our focus: passionately pursing God and his word -- passionately pursuing Jesus."
He said the group began in their home with a handful of young people, grew to 20 or more and now has 80 to 100 young people gathering each Wednesday for worship and teaching.
But it's not at the Radys' home anymore.
Pursuit moved its meetings to an empty building in the shopping center that once contained Giant Foods grocery. It moved there after another young people's ministry the Radys are involved with started meeting there. The Radys also lead Acting for the Almighty, a Christian drama ministry that needed a practice place and theatre. Pursuit moved there and continues to grow.
Rady said from the beginning, worship has been central to the youth fellowship. As result, he said a worship band developed that goes by the name Pursuit Worship.
He said Pursuit Worship will be featured in a pre-game concert before the Macon Mayhem hockey team plays March 18 at the Macon Coliseum. During the game, he said the band will do an acoustic set on the ice during the first break.
"At any given time there are four to seven people in the group," he said. "It's a bit flexible. They're definitely a youth-style, contemporary worship group reflecting music done like the worship songs of Bethel Music and Hillsong Worship. Sometimes the entire night turns into just worship, and I'm proud they've matured as musicians and worshipers who can just go with that and be led by God's Spirit."
At other times, Rady said the evening is typically made up of worship, a time of Bible teaching and an ending time of worship. There's also time to just hang out.
"On Friday nights -- basically every other Friday night -- we've added a youth outreach program we call The Chase. It's a Friday concert with Christian bands from all around. There are all kinds of bands and all kinds of genres. There's our band, gospel music groups, rap, acoustic groups, there's a little of everything. It's free and, like I say, usually every other Friday."
The Friday outreaches reflect the Radys' hope to reach all manner of young people for Christ.
"We are just trying to let everybody we can get a hold of know about Jesus and show them there's a difference and an alternative to the way things might be in their life," Rady said. "We love all the kids who come but we can't stop thinking about the others out there who are wandering through life have no hope. We want to show how good life can be with Jesus, especially with so much hurt and heartache and anger in the world. We're just trying to do that."
With Pursuit Youth, The Chase and Acting for the Almighty, Rady concedes he and his family stay pretty busy. That includes his two oldest children, Madeleine and Samuel, who are part of Pursuit Worship and act in dramas, and their youngest, Jillian, who has her first dramatic role as the young Cinderella coming up in an Acting for the Almighty production in April.
But there's more.
"Late last month we started Sunday evening worship times for anybody who wants to come," Rady said. "We've had parents of kids in Pursuit Youth who've been asking, 'When do we get to come to this? When will there be something for us?' and we finally started doing something. It's at 7 p.m. and has been going well."
So does that mean Pursuit Youth is starting a new church? Is Rady now a pastor?
"For us, it's just always been about doing what we felt God was telling us to do," he said. "Doing what we did, having kids at our house, starting Acting for the Almighty, seeing Pursuit Youth grow, it's all been just doing what we believe God wanted, and sometimes we were dragging our feet about it. But God always came along with such clear guidance we couldn't help but move forward. That's the way it is with this. We just see ourselves as a movement of people pursuing Jesus. People who aren't anything special but are pursuing God and trying their best to do what he wants. I'm pretty reluctant to title myself pastor or anything but some people are calling it church. If you think of a church being where two or more are gathered in Christ's name and he promises to be there in their midst, then yes, I guess we are. But to us, it's just continuing to follow him and do what he puts in front of us. To us, it's simply ministry. But I guess it may be evolving into church for some who want to come."
Pursuit Youth Ministry has a Facebook page that can be found by searching Pursuit Byron.
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: 202-C Ga. 49, Byron
Phone: 478-319 3069
Leadership: Mike and Heather Rady
Meetings: 6 p.m. Wednesday