A South Carolina megachurch is using humor to help reach people with the gospel in a new "Redneck" sermon series that began last weekend.
"Throughout the Bible there are stories of men (and some women) that are willing to do whatever it takes to get something done. This is very much the mentality of a Redneck," an emailed statement from NewSpring Church says. "We're going through stories together as a church and talking about how we too can and should do whatever it takes to share the Gospel."
The first message in the series is available online and shows the church's band opening their set with the Southern rock hit "Sweet Home Alabama" before delving into praise and worship songs. Clayton King, the church's teaching pastor who preached in the place of senior pastor Perry Noble on Sunday, also took a few minutes at the beginning of his sermon to introduce a few redneck items he owns, including some professional wrestling action figures.
NewSpring says many people in South Carolina relate to the series simply because they are rednecks, which the church defines as "hard-working people who are willing to do whatever it takes." When asked if they were concerned that using the redneck label might offend some people, the church said they have not yet received any negative feedback about the series.
In fact, the church announced via Twitter that 415 people received Christ on Sunday.
The last series presented by NewSpring, titled "Angels and Demons," also included some built-in humor. Worship leader Tadd Tatum dressed up as the Devil and claimed he was "not a bad dude" in the series' promotional materials. On his Instagram account, where he posted pictures of some of his antics, the Devil claims he gets a "bad rap" and that he is actually "the life of the party!"
"Everyone likes to laugh. So if you're new to NewSpring and maybe even uncomfortable to be in church, laughing can help break that tension," the church states. "We've learned that humor can help people be more open to hear about Jesus."
During King's message, titled "Wild at Heart," the pastor likened John the Baptist to rednecks because he preached boldly from the wilderness, not worried about what others thought of him. King compared the wilderness to difficult times in a Christian's life, and said clear vision is often formed during those times.
"When God is all you have, you see that God is all you need," he said.
King also referred to Luke 1:39-45, when Mary was pregnant with Jesus and her relative, Elizabeth, was pregnant with John. Elizabeth said the unborn baby John "leaped for joy" in her womb when she was greeted by Mary. Christians should likewise allow themselves to get excited for Jesus like John the Baptist did even while he was still in the womb, said King.
"Some of us need to be a little more redneck in the way that we experience Jesus," he said. "What do I mean by that? Quit trying to be so reserved. Quit trying to be so classy. Quit trying to be so pretty. Quit trying to be so perfect. And just let yourself go."
He emphasized that "a strong identity comes from knowing your role." Also, "a great testimony flows from faithfulness" and "a relentless witness outlives all critics."
King added, "If you get Jesus and lose everything, you haven't lost anything because he's everything. The critics can't do anything, but a witness knows that Jesus did it all."
NewSpring Family Ministries Director Brad Cooper will be preaching about camouflage for the second part of the series this Sunday.
NewSpring is regularly attended by 25,000 people across multiple campuses throughout South Carolina, according to Noble's website. The church has set a goal of reaching 100,000 people for Christ.