Not Just Another Church – A Different Church

Lifted Church opened its doors on September 13th of 2015, hoping to bring a new experience to the community. With a true passion to spread God’s word, Matt and Jess Smith held their first service at Test Intermediate and changed the everyday atmosphere of the school that took place Monday through Friday; and brought a place for everyone no matter their background to experience the love of God.

Needless to say their first service was successful, they were accompanied by over 180 people and have continued to grow in attendance as Sundays passed. Being a new face of religion, Lifted Church had the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the community. During their services they anticipate to deliver a relaxed and friendly environment to their crowd; a place that combines worship and creativity in a clear way. 

 Although the vision wasn’t always so transparent, the thoughts of Lifted Church wasn’t just something that came overnight.

 Matt had grown up in a “broken home”, his parents divorced when he was four and throughout his childhood he had at times got caught hanging around the wrong crowd. When he was growing up he was a “Southside” kid he moved throughout the area and even attended Vaile and Hibberd; he knew that side of town like the back of his hand. But the summer before middle school, Matt had went to a church camp and had started exploring his faith. He had become cultivated with the word of God and his faith only grew as the summer progressed. And that upcoming school year he had made the decision to leave the south side district he had grown up in and attend a school that his church had owned.

With only 35 students in the school and four in his class, it gave Matt the chance to be a leader and express his personal values and aspirations. Around the same time Matt began envisioning himself spreading God’s word not just as an avocation but a possible career. This thought was constantly recurring from day to night, he would have dreams of himself standing at a pulpit conducting services. And his teacher at the time had even saw there was a calling for him in ministry.  Therefore after some words with his pastor he was able to lead his first sermon at the young age of sixteen.

 But it wasn’t until he had got married to Jess and left his traditional 9 to 5 that he had become a “full time” minister. At first they didn’t want to plant a church, they drove an hour one way every Sunday with their two boys who were still in diapers to preach as youth ministers in Ohio. After resigning from the Ohio location, Matt began taking into consideration the idea of creating a church 0f his own. Although it wasn’t something he originally wanted to do the idea was just a thought that sat at the back of his head for a while. They later relocated to a small brick church close to Bob Evans by the name of Full Gospel Chapel.

But after preaching there for a while the idea of “planting a church” recurred and for the first time Matt was actually considering looking into the next step. He decided if he was going to do this, he wanted to do it the right way. So he had begun networking and creating a launch team, they would rent out spaces like the Innovation Center and get input on the idea itself not the churchy perspective. And after a year of planning they had sent out their first mailer the week before their opening Sunday reaching people from Centerville to as far as the other side of Ohio.

    The Smiths were very gracious for the humble start at Test Intermediate, although Matt was proud to announce they would finally have their own space in a notable location. Later on this m0nth, Lifted Church will be taking over the building, which originally housed the 79-year old toy store; Veaches. With the Smiths’ being Richmond natives themselves they felt the downtown building would not only be the perfect location, but a great remembrance of the experiences the toy store once held for the community.

Although they have renovated the building to take away it’s once toy store appearance, they plan to memorialize the store through a special display and keep major fixtures like the children’s castle in the downstairs portion. Through renovations they also have added a lobby, stage, coffee bar and a children’s area. And are planning in the future to eventually have the coffee bar open throughout the week and possibly hosting banquets and meetings at the space as well.

In honor of their four year anniversary, on September 15th they hosted the grand opening of the new location. Two services will be held one at 9:30 a.m. while the other will be taking place at 11 a.m. Lifted Church is looking forward to this next chapter, and are happy to pursue their new “forever home” in the historic downtown Richmond.

Not Just Another Church – A Different Church by Chamber Intern, Zakyra Fox-Holland