CLAYTON, N.C. — A mosaic is an art form in which broken pieces of glass, tile or some other material are joined in a way that creates a new and beautiful image.
Such a work of art is a metaphor for Mosaic, a community of believers that’s been quietly taking shape in the Raleigh suburb of Clayton, N.C. Mosaic is a church for a diverse array of people — some “broken,” all looking for something that’s missing in their lives, says its 28-year-old pastor, Andy Hale. Mosaic works to piece these “individuals together to form a beautiful image called the Kingdom of God.”
Hale says he’s often asked why a new church is needed when many established ones have empty pews.
He’s quick to assure established churches that “we are not splitting from you; we are not trying to say what you are doing in wrong. We just know there are people who aren’t going to be connected with the established churches.”
Hale, who received undergraduate and divinity degrees from Campbell University, calls today a “post-church” and “post-denominational era.”
That means, he explained recently, that many people don’t feel a connection with any church. “Even if a church hosts some sort of event, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people are going to come,” he said.
And many people don’t care about denominations, and may even have a negative impression because of news coverage of some Baptists and others groups.
“The majority of people just want to find a place where they can connect and where they can feel love,” Hale said. “People are looking for genuineness, for an opportunity to create a community that focuses on intentional relationships.”
You won’t find the word “Baptist” on Mosaic’s website. But Mosaic is true to Baptists’ historical roots. “We celebrate that we are Baptist by practice and by nature of who we are,” Hale said.
Mosaic doesn’t adhere to a creed, he said, because “Baptists have never been a creedal people.” Instead, its guiding tenet is that each person “is a minister in the kingdom of God, and it’s their role to connect with the people around them.” Mosaic emphasizes discipleship that creates more disciples. Baptism is offered at a nearby farm pond.
Mosaic also offers a congregation that is connected all week through community groups — stay-at-home moms, commuters, youth — that meet to “live out worship together” and practice discipleship.
Hale worked in more traditional churches before starting Mosaic. Growing up in Apex, N.C., he began preaching at age 14. He worked as an associate pastor at First Baptist in Clayton, for six and a half years, starting as a college senior. Mission opportunities have taken him to such places as Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.
He and his wife, Jennifer, were expecting their first child when Hale felt God calling him to “plant” a church. After much prayer, he turned down pastoral opportunities at two traditional churches.
Their daughter was born in June 2011. Hale started Mosaic four months later with 16 people. His wife planned to stay home, and he was giving up a secure income. “Either God is calling you to this, or you are certifiably insane,” he said.
Events have strengthened his belief in God’s call. A friend paid for the family’s health insurance for a year. Mosaic grew quickly to the point where Hale earned more of a salary. A part-time job “popped up” when he needed help paying bills.
And Mosaic thrives. Hale insists he never counts heads, but he does offer signs of success. Three community groups have grown to seven. Practical ministries include a community garden. Last year’s mission trip was to eastern Kentucky; this year’s destination will be announced soon.
On Sunday mornings, the children’s ministry spreads into three rooms at the fitness center where Mosaic meets. When the congregation gathers on the basketball court for worship, “I do know we have a great deal more people than when we started,” he said. And through its volunteer elders, coordinators and apprentices, Mosaic is always “raising up new leaders.”
“Really,” Hale said, “we measure success by lives changed, and by those people then transforming other lives.”
Mosaic is not “an attractional church plan,” he said. “We don’t put up a lot of signs or have flair and hoopla. Everybody who has come to Mosaic has been the result of a personal relationship.”
“We work on reading the Gospels and figuring out what Christ is calling us to do in the most authentic and dynamic way,” Hale said. “We focus on a discipleship ministry to serve like Christ and on creating a community where people can find a sense of belonging no matter where they are in their walk with Christ or in life.”
Linda Brinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Religious Herald contributing writer, based in Madison, N.C.