Published May 30, 2013
CONYERS — Discover Point Church is not your average, traditional Georgia Baptist congregation. In fact, Lead Pastor Philip Lehman stated, “Here at Discover Point, we don’t have traditions – only fun, friendly people who love God.”
Lehman was called to serve the Lord at the age of 13. Since that time he has served for 13 years in various ministries, including over seven years as a lead pastor at Discover Point.
In 1996 he graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor’s degree in Religion. Several years ago Lehman began to feel that God was calling him to start a church. He and his wife, Angela, began to pray about it and concluded that God wanted them to start a church in the east Atlanta area.
Lehman explained, “When I sensed that God was calling me to start a church, I knew that it would be a challenge to plant a church and meet my financial obligations at the same time, so I also started a business. We launched a mobile advertising business, Admobile Atlanta, in February 2005 – right after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Louisiana.”
Make a difference, not a point
The business consisted of a fleet of four “billboard” trucks. David Collinsworth, the worship arts pastor at Discover Point, was also involved in the business Lehman started. Along with starting a business, Lehman was doing a lot of praying, fundraising, team building, and strategic planning to plant a church.
“We started Discover Point on Sept. 11, 2005, the fourth anniversary of the terrorists’ attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, believing that new churches reach new people.”
Lehman continued, “We didn’t want members from other churches. We longed to see those not connected to Jesus make that step.
“We began with all bi-vocational staff and volunteers giving of their time and passions to make the church as effective as possible.”
Recently, Lehman sold what had become a thriving business with eight employees in order to devote his efforts and energy full time to the church.
Discover Point has a membership of 185 with an average attendance of approximately 350 in three services on Sunday morning. Lehman stated, “Last year we had 410 people who filled out guest cards when they visited our church on Sunday. Many of those cards represent a family, so we actually had many more visitors than that.”
Lehman added, “We probably have somewhere between 450 -500 people who consider Discover Point their church.
“Our vision is: One church, three locations, 80 life groups, impacting millions by 2015.”
Lehman, who serves on the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention, declares, “We are Baptists, but we don’t advertise it because we don’t want any barrier to prevent people from visiting our church. People my age and younger don’t care what label we have.
“We don’t talk about denominations and politics, but we are Baptistic in our doctrine and philosophy.”
Collinsworth added, “We grew up in church and it took a couple of years to get the church culture out of us. You know, when you go to church, you feel like you have to be something. We don’t impose those expectations on anyone. We are honest, normal people trying to create an atmosphere of authenticity.”
Lehman added, “We focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. Traditions and nonessential doctrines can divide us, but impacting the lives of others can unite us. The love of God, a message of grace and hope, a commitment to God’s Word, and the truth that Jesus is the only way can unite us.
“Some people are so dogmatic that they insist on trying to make a point in their presentation of the Gospel. I think it is more important to make a difference than to make a point.”
Out in the community
In an attempt to reach those in need of Christ, Lehman and Collinsworth went out into the community in search of those who needed to be reached. Lehman said, “We went to the bars and played poker (not for money) in order to meet people.
“In fact, we are a little cautious about those with church backgrounds coming into our fellowship. If they come with their traditions they will likely be disappointed. We occasionally use secular music to help tell our story and we don’t want to be judged for that. Sometimes a secular song will resonate with a lost person in a way a spiritual song will not.
“Our heartbeat is to reach the lost; and our goal is for new members to multiply themselves. I hope our story can be an encouragement for other church planters.
“Discover Point has baptized over 200 persons in its brief history and over 100 in the last two years. On Easter Sunday the church had 550 for worship and over 150 first-time guests filled our visitors cards for the first time.”
Amazingly, over 80 percent of those who attend Discover Point have some kind of service role or ministry in the church. For example the church has a community team that provides food and clothing for those in need. The church also gives bicycles away to bless families at Christmas. This past Christmas the church gave away 150 bicycles and many toys to families in the Conyers area.
Lehman explained, “We wanted to do something different and unique to bless the families in our community. They must come to the church to get the bicycles, but we don’t do it because we want to get people in the church. We do it because we just want to bless the community. Giving away bicycles is one way to impact future generations.”
Steps for space
Discover Point held their first meetings in the Carmike Movie Theater (16), then at Peachtree Academy Private School, but the church is in the process of moving from their storefront location on Parker Road to the Crossroads 8 Theater on Highways 20 and 138 in Conyers, one of the busiest thoroughfares in metro Atlanta.
In 2007 the Crossroads 8 Theater was valued at $5.2 million, but has been made available to Discover Point through a verbal agreement for $600,000. The building will provide an ideal location, 280 parking spaces, and 24,000 square feet of floor space. The church will be able to increase their seating capacity for worship from 140 seats to 440 seats, but will continue to remain in two services.
You may not feel comfortable with Lehman’s approach to “church”, but his church has a baptism to member ratio of 1 to 4. Southern Baptists generally have a baptism ratio of 1 to 40.
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