For roughly three years now the Summit Community Church in Hazard has grown into a congregation of hundreds, but the journey has not been without criticism and controversy.
“You know, one of our core values at Summit is whatever it takes, and what that means for us is that we will do whatever it takes to reach people. we won't sin, we won't compromise but we will do whatever it takes,” says Mark Combs, the lead pastor of the church.
You are hearing from mark combs, the lead pastor of Summit Community Church in Hazard, and that "whatever it takes approach" has made a few ripples in the water since it opened its doors 3 years ago.
“We were labeled as a cult, there was a lot of things on the internet a lot of things on gossip websites put up about us and our church and those kinds of thing. I wasn't really prepared for it,” Combs said.
Some of the churches promotional material contains images and videos not typically associated with Christian events (see video), but Combs says its purpose is not to shock, but to connect with folks in new ways.
“A lot of times what we think is what will someone who is not interested in church, be interested in, what will they think, what's an angle we could approach, what might grab their attention. Jesus used where people were and brought them to where they needed to be, and i don't understand why the church can't have that same approach,” Combs said.
Today, the church has 450 active members and hundreds more on the books. Both its leaders and members say that success continues to inspire belief in their approach...
“It’s exciting to be a part of this. It’s exciting to watch adults give their lives to Christ. It just gives me chills just talking about it right now. It’s just something I’m so grateful to be a part of,” says Angela Holbrook, a church member.
“As they say the proof is in the pudding. I just can't say enough good things about the success that we've had in what we've done so far,” says Ricky Steele, Worship Leader at the church.
Combs said, “We just want to continue to ride the wave and be faithful and to be thankful. That’s a big part of our church is to be thankful for what god has done and just to enjoy it while we are experiencing it.”