Southland Christian Church, Lexington, Kentucky

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Southland Christian Church is an evangelical Christian church located in Nicholasville, Kentucky, which is just outside Lexington, Kentucky, United States. The church is located at the corner of U.S. Route 68 (Harrodsburg Road) and Brannon Road in Jessamine County. It is associated with the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. Its current Senior Pastor, Jon Weece, came to the church as a teaching pastor in 2000, and became Senior Pastor in 2003.

Size and facility
Southland Christian Church is considered a megachurch. It is one of Kentucky's largest churches, averaging 9,000-11,000 in attendance per weekend in five services. The 115-acre (0.47 km 2) sprawling campus includes multiple buildings, structures and parking lots. The main sanctuary can be converted into two gymnasiums. The church also has a substantial ministry to the poor through its Helping Through Him ministry, including an on-site warehouse.

The church started in 1956 as a mission of Broadway Christian Church in Lexington. The founding pastor, Wayne Smith, came from Unity Christian Church (near Cynthiana, Kentucky), and held the first service with 172 people in attendance. The church was originally located on Hill 'N Dale Drive (near Southland Drive) in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1981, the church had grown substantially and relocated to a 20-acre (81,000 m 2) site across the county line in neighboring Jessamine County. It has since expanded its property to 115 acres (0.47 km 2). The founding Senior Pastor, Wayne Smith, announced in 1995 that he would retire. At the time of his retirement, average church attendance was in the thousands. A pastor search committee was formed, and steps were taken to find a replacement for Wayne Smith. However, after Smith announced his retirement and in the midst of the search, Mike Breaux, pastor of Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, was invited to preach one weekend. Soon after that weekend, the pastor search committee suspended the search process and hired Mike Breaux as Senior Pastor. He then became the church's second senior pastor. During his tenure the church grew to an attendance of more than 7,000 persons a week. Jon Weece joined Southland as a teaching pastor in 2000, sharing in the responsibilities of a church with six weekend services. After a building program that reduced the weekend services from six to five, Breaux moved to Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, in 2003. Weece, a former missionary to Haiti, became the third senior pastor on September 1, 2003. Still in his twenties at the time, he was one of the youngest megachurch senior pastors in the United States. He initially shared teaching responsibilities with Jim Burgen, formerly of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. Burgen has since left for Flatirons Community Church in Colorado and Weece now shares preaching responsibilities with regular guest, Mike Breaux. Under Weece's leadership, the Southland services have grown to an attendance of around 10,000 each weekend. In 2009, Southland opened its first satellite campus in Danville, KY. An additional satellite campus is planned for the former Lexington Mall site on Richmond Road in Lexington.

As a Restoration Movement church, Southland's beliefs are similar to other churches' in the movement, although local congregations are independent and may vary slightly from each other. Southland members include a large number of people with roots in denominations outside the Restoration Movement, including a significant number from Baptist and Wesleyan/Methodist traditions among others. As such, the church also has strong influences from, and often even identifies itself with, protestantism. In short, the following is a summary of what Christians who are members of Southland are asked to believe :
  • Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, who died for our sins and arose from the dead.
  • The Bible is the inspired word of God.
  • Every person has worth as a creation of God, but that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • Forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life are available to those who trust Christ as Savior and Lord.
  • Those accepting Christ should repent of sin, confess their faith, and be baptized into Him. This implies that salvation is not received by doing one of the above but all of the above.
  • The Church is the body of Christ on earth, empowered by the Holy Spirit and exists to evangelize the lost and edify the saved.
  • Jesus Christ will one day return to earth and reign forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Worship services
Southland Christian Church has a Saturday evening service, three Sunday morning services and one Sunday evening service, "608" (the time that the service begins) which targets college students and young adults. All five services are contemporary in style, and casual in dress.

The Southland Hour
Southland Christian Church's television ministry began Oct. 13, 1985 with one camera and a borrowed recorder. All post production work was hired out and the tape was then brought to WTVQ for airing the following weekend. From the very beginning, this ministry was run entirely by volunteers and even with seed money and equipment from a volunteer. The next step was the addition of multiple cameras to allow for more complete coverage of the service and its many parts. In the early 1990s this was achieved and the crew grew to 3 camera operators, a director choosing shots and providing direction for the cameras and an audio engineer. Shortly after this step, a graphics operator was added to add text and names to the television program. In 1995, Southland Christian Church hired Kenny Vines of Orlando, Florida as its first Technical Director. In 1996 he moved all editing and post production within the walls of the church. This greatly improved cost-effectiveness and total creative control of the content of The Southland Hour. 2001 brought many significant changes to the face of the ministry. These included new cameras, new switching and control equipment, and new locations. The move to the new building dramatically increased crew needs: an 11 member crew is needed for just video work during every service. This group is responsible for both image magnification in the worship center and the television program recording. Editing of the program occurs during the week and the service airs the following week on WTVQ. Today, The Southland Hour airs at 10:00AM each Sunday on WTVQ TV36 which broadcasts throughout the East Central Kentucky Region.

Letters to Britney Spears
The church hit national newswires on October 27, 2007, when the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Southland was preparing to send a package to Britney Spears filled with letters from church members bearing the general message "Britney, Jesus loves you." Weece was inspired to send the package after seeing news of her personal problems in 2007. Then, in a sermon and a September blog entry on Southland's official web site, he asked Southland members to send the letters, asking them, "What if Britney Spears were Britney Smith and what if she lived next door to us? What would we do?" In his sermon introducing the idea to the congregation, Weece cited Mother Teresa saying, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." As of the Herald-Leader report, the church was still collecting letters, and was trying to determine the best way to make sure the letters actually got to her.

Building Activity

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