Love Alive Church is enjoying rave reviews.
The high-energy church that launched in a Baton Rouge movie theater four years ago and now holds services in a building on Jones Creek Road has become a big hit with more than 500 people attending four services each Sunday.
“There’s amazing things happening,” said the Rev. Ronaldo Hardy, pastor. “We have been able to build a unique culture for a church in our city, and I think that has contributed to our rapid growth.”
Hardy and his wife, Cristian, both 35, are lead pastors of the church at 5522 Jones Creek Road.
Services usually last about an hour.
“That’s something that people appreciate,” Hardy said. “It’s a cool experience. It’s an anointed experience.”
“We’re just a group of young people who love God and are on a mission to change the world,” said 38-year-old Remiah Trask, the church’s worship and creative pastor who oversees the music, technology, digital, marketing, video and social media along with his wife, Nikyla.
The church’s contemporary worship experience has attracted enthusiastic kids, youth and the young adult crowd. But Hardy said the church is striving to be multigenerational and multicultural.
“We’ve been able to focus our ministry in a way that the experience appeals to a wide audience,” said Hardy, who started preaching at 18, following his father, Ronald Hardy, and grandfather into the ministry.
Hardy acknowledges the challenges of building diversity for a black pastor. He said Love Alive hasn’t turned its back on the elements of black culture.
“Sometimes in our pursuit of diversity, especially when you’re African-American, there’s this need to kind of give up things that are the cultural norm. We haven’t done that,” he said. “We push for a true multicultural experience. We’ve started to blend multiple cultures in our approach to music, ministry style, all of that.”
Church leaders want the services to be approachable, not intimidating.
“I preach in jeans and LeBrons (shoes) every Sunday. If I don’t have LeBrons, I have Jordans,” Hardy said. “It’s that mindset, too. You don’t have that barrier up — what am I going to wear to church? Just be comfortable, and we’re going to see that it’s a great experience. People are being touched and minds being changed and people are developing a deeper relationship with Christ.”
Another aspect that has attracted younger churchgoers and others is Love Alive’s willingness to speak to matters that concern them, Hardy said.
“We’re seeing a large amount of young people coming to our church, and we’ve been super-effective in reaching people who are agnostic — one step from not believing in God at all. But people got tired of the church not paying attention to issues that matter to them,” he said. “Our church is very much focused on social justice.”
He said the church follows the lead of Jesus.
“Jesus was a social revolutionary,” he said. “While Jesus was on the earth, it was the one time where the government and the church were united. And they united in the idea that they did not like Jesus, because he was disrupting their environment.”
Hardy said the church has an obligation to become involved in those issues just as Jesus did.
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Source: The Advocate