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Live Oak Christian Church doesn't have a physical place of its own yet, but its members feel that over the past four years it has become a home to many in the community. And, a new lead pastor is looking to deepen those roots locally.
Michael Beaumont takes over at Live Oak for founding pastor Mark Jones, who left earlier this summer to start a new church in Indiana.
Beaumont gives his first sermon Sunday at Bluffton High School, where the congregation has met since starting four years ago, as a daughter church of Savannah Christian Church.
The church established itself as an atypical place of worship: a church that doesn't look like a church, as its pastors say. The church has grown to 230 members, mostly young families, said worship pastor Jeremiah Smith.
Members are encouraged to come dressed as they are -- no need for Sunday's best. Sermons use video clips of popular movies to demonstrate points -- a video shown during the holidays of "How the Grinch Saved Christmas" provoked a discussion of how the joy of Christmas can affect everyone. Music in the form of a "praise band" resembles a rock group more than a church choir.
Beaumont is looking to continue the church's approach to worship, including the ideology of placing the needs of people above proselytizing. His philosophy is that if you present yourself as compassionate, then people will warm to a Christian message.
"Especially these days with the economy the way it is, people are hurting," he said. "We want to be there for them."
Beaumont comes from a Christian church in Avon, a town in his home state of Indiana. A mutual acquaintance between Beaumont and Smith introduced the idea of the relocation. Beaumont, 35, is moving with his wife, Karrie, and two young daughters.
"The Lowcountry is just stunning," said Beaumont, driving the half-day trip from Indiana to Bluffton on Thursday. "The people have been very generous."
Beaumont is waiting until settling in before creating new programs. He knew the move was right once he spoke to Smith and the other church administrators and agreed with their people-first philosophy. As for an actual church building to call its own, he believes it will come in time, but it will not distract too much from the church's mission.
"That's definitely needed in forming an identity in the community," he said. "I don't want it to get to the point where money is going toward facilities instead of to people. That's a dance we're going to have to dance in the future."