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Student-led worship group grows 'big'

Posted: October 19, 2012 - 12:33pm
Shane Padgett speaks to the students at The Big Group.  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
Shane Padgett speaks to the students at The Big Group.

Twitter @ColumbiaCounty

Chase Kendrick and Caleb Ogden prayed to have an impact on the students at Evans High School this fall.

Ten weeks into the school year, 100 students have rallied to create a fast-growing student-led worship gathering they call The Big Group.

"I've never seen anything like this in Augusta," said Shane Padgett, the student evangelism pastor at Warren Baptist Church, who spoke at one of the group's recent Tuesday night gatherings. "Twelve years doing student ministry and I've never seen anything like it. It reminds me of the See You at the Pole movement. It's entirely student-led."

Chase, 17, and Caleb, 16, went on a trip this summer with South Carolina's NewSpring Church.

"We got back on fire. We wanted to go to school and have an impact. We wanted to have a good year," Chase said. "I said, 'Why not start a small group?' Caleb said, 'Why does it have to be a small group? Let's make it a big group.' That's where the name comes from."

The first week, five students met for prayer at a Panera Bread restaurant. Soon, the group was holding outdoor worship services at Lady Antebellum Amphitheater. Martinez Baptist Church recently volunteered space. At a recent gathering - just two months after The Big Group was started - 115 students poured through the doors for two hours of worship, prayer and small group discussion.

A 10-member board of students leads the group. They attribute the rapid growth to word-of-mouth invites and their social network of choice: Twitter.

"Twitter blew it up for us," Chase said.

On Twitter, students share how The Big Group gatherings help their faith. They encourage others to come and have even offered to pay for one another's gas if it's the difference between making the trip or not. Local pastors, too, are weighing in, tweeting their prayers and encouragement to the group.

In its short history, the group is already drawing students from Grovetown, Lakeside, North Augusta and Greenbrier high schools. Though it's held at Martinez Baptist, it remains unaffiliated with any church or denomination.

"We definitely wanted it to be different," Chase said. "We didn't want it to have this church-intimidation factor. We wanted it to be God-focused, serious. It's a really unique thing and not like a lot of youth groups."

Padgett, who shared his testimony and preached from the Gospel of Luke last week, agreed.

"When you come through the doors here, they mark your hand with magic marker, numbers one through 10," he said. "You break up into small groups by number. It's cool, not cliquey. It's inviting. I think that's why it works. Everybody's totally welcomed at The Big Group."


WHAT: A weekly student-led worship gathering

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays

WHERE: Martinez Baptist Church, 3632 Lynnwood Drive

MORE: See @thebiggroup2 on Twitter or search for The Big Group on Facebook

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Comments (3)


Parents might want to do a

Parents might want to do a little research into Newspring Church and it's leader Perry Noble.


Church Intimidation?

A new "watch word" perhaps. Does it denote the preaching of the "word" with the specific intent of causing a sinner to feel guilty and ask God to forgive them of their sin?

If this is church intimidation, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, with the intent to transform sinners to saints, let the intimidation rule.

If this is church intimation, then maybe we have a problem. While some organized religions have major problems, the potential for cultism as an alternative is very dangerous.

The largest cult in the world was formed by a young man who was intimated and "turned off" by organized religion. All religions. He found all flawed and lacking true revelation of the creator. He formed his own religion with fragments from all known to him.

Not everyone that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom.

Billy Graham always concluded his services with the admonition to new converts to find a church family that believed in and followed sound Biblical teachings.

The apostle Paul had a zeal for serving God and religion while killing the followers of Jesus Christ. St. Paul needed knowledge and wisdom to balance his zeal.

We would sincerely pray that this is not another "social group" meeting to absolve one another. But a true revival of faith in the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. A revival that will point converts toward that straight gate that leads to eternal life.


The random numbering.....

and small focus groups should send an alarm. This is a part of a mind control process used in "Values Clarification". VC uses peer pressure to force questioning everything you have ever been taught or heard about any given subject. The outcome is a liberating theory called situation morality. In the Moment is another process. IM follows the same path. Outside the Box is another. At some point all number 1's will meet in another focus group. Then even and odd numbers. Then regroup by colors of the numbers. Each sub group has a floating leader who takes points from one group to the next. There is a "outcome" and you a led toward that outcome rather than actual freedom of conclusion from discussion. The leaders know where all of the cross discussion should lead and they add to the mix to achieve same. It works. Peer pressure is powerful in small groups as well as large. Social experimentation always works. And it sounds a lot like Sunday School.