From the moment you walk through the doors, you will find an authentic, relevant, energetic worship experience, along with people from many different backgrounds. The music is God-focused and exciting, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is Bible-based, relevant to everyday life, and inspiring. You are welcome, and there is a place for you at Abundant Life Church in Matthews, North Carolina. “Each of our worship opportunities is an exciting time to connect to faith, to family, and to friends,” said Pastor Brent Watts. “We call them Life Connections. Life is made up of relationships, and we want to help you grow your relationships with God, with your family, and with a great group of people that are waiting to befriend you.”
The old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is very accurate, and Abundant Life Church puts this philosophy into action. “We try to love God, love people, and love truth,” said Bro. Watts. “The purpose of Abundant Life Church is to glorify God and help people experience abundant life through Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by leading people to a New Birth experience, integrating them into God’s family, forming them into mature disciples, and equipping them for their unique ministry. To connect, to grow and to serve is the process, and God’s ultimate purpose for every mature believer is servant hood.”
Located in a metro area, with a population of 2.4 million, Abundant Life Church does its best to cast a wide net so that as many people can be reached as possible. With a current growth rate of 10 percent over the last five years, which Bro. Watts attributes to a well-balanced approach between all of their ministries, they saw their attendance rise to a high of 130 in Sunday services in 2012. “The majority of our visitors come from personal invitations of our saints,” said Bro. Watts. “The next level of visitors comes from our location and website. We have distributed thousands of flyers, post cards, etc. as well, and our Home Bible Study ministry has been equal parts evangelism and discipleship. These ministries are needful and very important, but one of the key elements that we must not overlook in having a growing church is to maintain prayer, give to missions, and to have consistently good church.
“Our church is all about people, not programs,” he said. “We have programs, but they are designed to serve the needs of the people. We are happy to serve as a connect point, and around here we call them Life Connections. We strive to make every time we come together as the body of Christ a meaningful and inspirational experience. From the opening prayer or song to the last amen, it is our desire that lives be transformed through the power of God’s Spirit.”
Bro. Watts has served as pastor of Abundant Life Church since November 2006. He and his wife, Paula, both have a heart for ministering to people in word and in song. They have two daughters, Ashley and Alyson. Currently, he serves as presbyter of Section 3 of the North Carolina District.
Bro. Watts graduated from Christian Life College in Stockton, California in 1987 with a B.A. in Theology. Since that time, he served as a youth pastor, assistant pastor, evangelist, interim pastor, and pastor of Spirit of Life Church in Kinston, N.C. for 10 years. In addition, he has been actively involved in community affairs through the Chamber of Commerce and Boys and Girls Club. “Involvement in the community is a priority for a revival church,” he said. “They have to know you care. Several years ago, I saw a letter from a pastor signed, ‘Because I care!’ I copied the idea and now sign all my correspondence that way. It has become what I am known by in our church.”
Pastor Watts enjoys preaching about faith, prayer and personal spiritual growth, and spends time ministering to leaders and dealing with new convert retention. When he gets a chance, at his leisure, he enjoys playing golf, running and reading.
“I would say that one of the great keys to unlocking financial blessings for our church has been giving to missions,” explained Pastor Watts. “Over the years when we needed something locally, we would give globally, and God would supply the need. Not long after arriving, we wanted to pave the parking lot, so we held a Faith Promise Service. The church had no PIM’s at that point, just a few members that were personally supporting missionaries. The church responded with over $16,000 in pledges for that year. Within three months of that service, we paid cash for a new parking lot because of God’s blessings on our people. We are desperately in need of a new church building here. So what does God do? He challenged us to build a church overseas, and He would help us locally. The money was sent in June of this year to build a church in the Dominican Republic, and, as a result, our Building Fund has almost doubled this year.”
Organization and Management
Abundant Life Church has a variety of exciting ministries and provides multiple opportunities for ministry as well. While there are specific requirements for certain levels of involvement, there is always an opportunity to become involved. From greeters, to Sunday school teachers, to musicians, to magicians, there is a place for everyone. Ministry opportunities are available in the following areas: Audio/Visual, Children’s Ministry, Christian Education, Discipleship, Guest Services, Home Bible Studies, Ladies Ministries, Men’s Ministries, Music, Prayer, Senior Citizens, World Missions, and Youth. “About 65 to 70 percent of our members are involved in some form of ministry,” said Bro. Watts, “with 50 percent being involved in evangelism. We consistently promote involvement from the pulpit as well as in our Abundant Life class, which we request all of our new converts and transferees to attend. You have a God-given ability He wants you to share with others, and Abundant Life will help you find your place.”
Meeting once a quarter with department and ministry leaders, conducting a yearly, two-day planning retreat as a whole Vision Team, and meeting with leaders individually as needed, helps keep Abundant Life focused and headed in the right direction. “We plan, brainstorm, coordinate dates and work on problem solving,” Bro. Watts said.
He invests time in his leaders and uses a variety of methods to train them, such as video and CD lessons, as well as e-mail lessons. “One of our goals at Abundant Life is to equip every believer for the work of the ministry by helping them discover their unique gifts and talents, then empowering them to use those gifts and talents to their fullest potential for the building up of the kingdom of God,” said Bro. Watts.
Built in 2004 by the previous pastor, Theo Craig, the church’s current facility consists of a sanctuary, three classrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and two offices, with the children’s ministry being based in a house that was on the property when purchased. “Pastor Craig started the church with about 15 people, meeting in a school in 2001,” explained Bro. Watts. “Therefore, the church was five years old upon our arrival. Pastor Craig had done a remarkable job of gathering people and building a building. We have been able to further the work from that foundation, and we are now working with a design/build firm to construct a new building housing a new sanctuary and classrooms.”
Future Plans and Goals
Abundant Life’s goal is to serve as a connection point to help people grow their relationships with their faith, family and friends. This will be accomplished by providing connection in these areas through worship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship and service. The church strives to be a place where the hurting can find hope, where the lonely can find love, where the broken can be restored, and where the fallen can be forgiven.
“We want to be a place where the whole Gospel is shared with the hundreds of thousands in the Metro-lina region,” said Bro. Watts. “It is our goal to grow Abundant Life Church in Matthews to a membership of over 500, to plant one new Abundant Life Church in the Metro-lina area each year, to evangelize this region, including works among the many language groups, eventually bringing the membership of Abundant Life Church into the thousands. We desire to become a church that is not just blessed, but becomes a blessing by sending out men and money to fulfill the Great Commission. We want to develop the current campus to include a new sanctuary, classrooms, office complex and sports facility, to minister to the body of Christ, and to serve as a connect point for those who desire to discover Him. We want to be a place where we can all come to ‘the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,’ and to develop a staff of people who can help us fulfill this dream!”