By James Forrest

A wonderful privilege of mine in my day to day law firm life is assisting some really great non-profit and charitable groups.  These organizations are critical to our community and extremely valuable in so many ways.  I thoroughly enjoy (and have a passion for) working with my non-profit clients to implement risk management strategies that I often see large, for-profit companies implement.  This enables them to be successful and viable long-term – increasing the positive impact over time that these organizations have on our community.  An example of a one such non-profit is the Summit Church.

While Summit’s success story certainly isn’t unique, even for the Triangle area, it is quite rare.  This bustling congregation of approximately seven thousand has a long history in the area, founded in the Sixties as Homestead Heights Baptist Church. Homestead Heights focused on ministering to a small set of congregants for nearly forty years, with membership ebbing and flowing, as most churches do, with numbers in the hundreds, with average Sunday attendance of 300.

In 2001, the congregation called the current pastor and good friend of mine, J. D. Greear, then the pastor to college students, to take the mantle of leadership.  In order to fulfill the unified purpose laid out by the deacons and members, Greear applied several principles that would see the church’s membership skyrocket into the thousands over the next decade.

After quickly outgrowing the old Homestead Heights facility—the first Easter service for the new Summit Church reached 1,000 attendees—the church spent several years continuing to grow while worshipping at Durham’s Riverside High School. After completing its flagship campus in Brier Creek in 2007, the church immediately embarked on a multi-campus strategy, and immediately saw the rewards of this vision.  The church now features several campuses across the Triangle.

What I probably love most about Summit, however, is its approach to community service. Through its ServeRDU program, the church works with a host of area non-profits to deploy THOUSANDS of people into service of the community throughout the entire year.  The leadership team for ServeRDU has identified over 40 projects spanning a week of service, from July 11-14, across Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and surrounding Triangle communities. The scope of the projects is breathtaking, with work targeted in conjunction with area non-profits to help scores of people in various degrees and situations of need, from the homeless, to orphans, prisoners, and at-risk children.   The collective impact of this week of service really can’t be overstated – and the best part of the story is that the ServeRDU is really a launching point to create long-lasting ministry and volunteering opportunities.

I am proud to have the Summit Church as a client.  It is so rare to find a large church that is extremely leveraged not for itself, but for the community and the world. Come check out one of their campuses sometime or get involved in ServeRDU.