University City

Seed for church was planted in Alaska

For Dean Burris, the call to plant a new church came while he was a remote cabin in Alaska.

Burris, who at the time was an assistant pastor at Christ Community Church in Huntersville, was attending a conference in Alaska. A pastor there invited him to spend a few days at his cabin in the wilderness, which had no running water or television.

"I had a lot of time to spend thinking and praying," said Burris, who had planted several churches in his career. He and the other pastor also had many discussions.

"That was a key moment for me," Burris said. "I felt strongly that the Lord was speaking to me personally about planting a new church."

The question was where. Burris had planted a church in Mooresville, but he had a growing interest in Cabarrus County around Concord Mills, an area he describes as having "exploded with growth."

He saw there weren't many churches there, compared with nearby areas.

There also wasn't much infrastructure available to hold church services.

Burris called two schools, and after the principal at Harris Road Middle School talked to his staff, he offered to host the church at his school.

"That was the confirmation we needed," Burris said. "If we couldn't find a place to meet, it would be difficult to get things started."

Burris began meeting on Sunday nights with a few interested people, and the group grew to about 14 families. They prayed and talked about what a new church would look like. They studied passages about the purpose of church in the New Testament.

They met through the summer, averaging about 70 people. On Aug. 28, Metrolina Church officially was launched. The group advertised by handing out Frisbees with the church information in surrounding neighborhoods, and on Aug. 28 some of the recipients brought their Frisbees to church.

Burris said the vision of the church is to enlarge the kingdom of God rather than focusing on the church as individual congregation.

"We want to partner with other churches, equip people to go all around the world with the gospel," Burris said.

"It's not so much about us, it's about others. This goes from the local community to the other side of the earth."

The church already had hosted several community events, including a well-attended movie night for the Moss Creek community. When school started, the church served breakfast to almost 100 staff members at Harris Road Middle School.

Church member Jerrell Jarvis relocated with his family to Charlotte from Raleigh 18 months ago, leaving family and a close-knit church group.

In Charlotte, Jarvis said, he felt God leading his family to get "more directly in touch with the lives of others.

"It has changed my focus on sharing the gospel and loving others with a true and sincere heart," Jarvis said.

"Metrolina is allowing me the opportunity to serve communities and families in the best way ever, through Christ."