Adaption of an interview with Randy Valimont, from Church Executive magazine, Oct 2012 Edition.
I was given up for adoption at three days old – only because the planned abortion didn’t work out. Throughout my ministry, I’ve learned God values each person and that churches should fight fear with faith to advance the cause of Christ around the world.
I began as lead pastor at Griffin First Assembly in 1993. The church today provides a progressive Pentecostal environment of worship, fellowship, teaching, and discipleship that uses all available tools to move the kingdom of God forward. By “progressive,” I mean we look at technology and some of the modern ways of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Locally, we seek to reach diverse cultures by reflecting as closely as possible the racial and ethnic breakdowns in our area. Griffin is approximately 55% Caucasian, 35% African-American, 5% Hispanic, and 5% Asian. When the church needed a music pastor, I intentionally looked for an African-American because I realized that unless people can see diversity on the platform, there would never be diversity in the church. We have staff from India. My background is Persian. We have many races and generations represented on our pastoral staff. A church can say they are being multiethnic and multigenerational, but unless people see it, they really won’t believe it.
Another development since my coming to Griffin is we’ve seen almost 30,000 people find Jesus as their Savior. We’ve also overseen eight building projects, started a Christian high school and counseling center, and opened extension campuses. We host a college on our campus, run a radio and TV ministry, and are closely associated with a local Teen Challenge Center.
We have seen our share of challenges. When I first came here, the average Sunday morning attendance was about 400 – now its 4,500. We revamped administration, which included bringing in a consultant and creating five executive pastor positions: one each for business administration, music and media, pastoral care, missions and outreach, and Christian education.
I think one of the biggest challenges to a local pastor is how to fight fear with faith and remind our people who our source is. This is especially important when our church faces big barriers to our vision, such as the economy, which can produce fear in the hearts of many Americans.
Speaking of vision, it is incredibly important for your church to have a big vision. When there’s a big vision, God sees that and He provides for the needs of the church.
How you present your vision to the church is important. People give to ministry because of two things: the person presenting it and the cause. Before you fundraise, you friend-raise. What we found out is people don’t usually tithe to their local church unless there’s been a personal visit or relationship with the pastor.
The cause is equally important. Our motto at Griffin First Assembly is “One church can change the world.” I believe that when a church has a big vision with eternal impact, there are people who will want to support it with big money.
When asked what weighs heavily on my heart as a pastor of a megachurch, I’m most concerned about how the culture is having an impact on the church, instead of the church having an impact on the culture. Also, one thing we really want is to feel the power and presence of Christ when we come to church to worship together. Technology is a tool. So are buildings. These are great, but if the lights went off, can we still have church and an experience with God?