When my friend Ferrell Hardison moved to Princeton, N.C., in 1990, he began pastoring a Pentecostal church with 70 people. Founded in 1918, it was an aging congregation with a tiny budget. Ferrell was the 25th pastor to lead the church, and some of his predecessors had stayed only a year or two. Not exactly a young pastor’s dream job!
Today, the church has a new name—The Bridge—and it has grown to 1,250 in attendance. Last fall the congregation broke ground on a new worship center, and they’ve planted a satellite congregation in Goldsboro, N.C., that already has 300 members. A large percentage of the church’s $2.6 million annual budget is marked for outreach, and Ferrell estimates that at least 3,000 people have come to Christ through their ministry in recent years.
Ferrell is a simple guy who believes in prayer. He’s not a celebrity CEO pastor who runs his church like a business, nor is he a self-appointed “apostolic” tyrant who barks orders to his staff. He believes in core biblical values like servanthood, team ministry and compassion. And people are flocking to The Bridge because they find Jesus-focused worship, Bible-centered preaching and, most of all, New Testament-style love.