Pastor Bobby Conway found a purpose through faith and founded LIFE Fellowship Church. The following are edited excerpts about how he aims to bring people together and to teach the meaning of LIFE.
Herald Citizen: How long have you been with your church?
Bobby Conway: I am one of the founders of the church. We started in 2004, so 14 years. It’s been a long time.
HC: How did you get involved in ministry and/or why you felt called to do this sort of work?
BC: I grew up in California having never heard the Gospel until I was 19 playing college baseball. One of the youth on my team took me to church. I had two questions – How do I get rid of my guilt and what is my purpose in life? Both of the answers I discovered in Jesus.
I joined Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California. My aim was to celebrate recovery and work to get rid of my addictions and alcohol and have freedom of guilt and find a purpose in life. That set me on a trajectory to move and start a church.
It took eight years of preparing from the time – Bible college, seminary and residency appointments before I was ready to start a church. The local church provides lots of answers and help. The Bible talks about how to deal with healthy relationships, healing, marriages, finances, emotions, fear, envy, doubt, guilt. There is a lot of wisdom and helps you deal with things on an everyday basis.
HC: Describe your church.
BC: The vision is to pursue at all costs a passionate God-centered life. The mission is a measurement that we want everyone to embody – LIFE. That breaks out to Living in community; Investing in growth; Finding you purpose and Embracing the great commission. We want to be the church that lives by that. People may find pleasure in wealth, fame, and these are things that can be had as long as you put it in the proper place. C.S. Lewis said if you put second first, then you lose the first thing. But if you put the first thing first, the second will fall into place. Everybody lives for something. We want people to love and live in the vision for God. … At LIFE in the community, we want to invest in growth and how to become like Jesus and love people and find purpose. God created everybody for a purpose. … We don’t want to be a cruise ship but rather a battleshipped equipped. … We want to share the Gospel so people know the good news, but then we don’t want to go out there and throw moral grenades.
HC: What do you believe is the best part of your job?
BC: Seeing life change. When the lights go on and people experience life change.
HC: What is the most difficult part of your job?
BC: Blowing expectations. It depends on their past experience and expectations on what the pastor is. The pastor needs to be who he or she is. The pastor needs to come out leading with their gift set and resist being a jack-of-all-trades. … People come in with expectations for ABCDE, and good gracious, I don’t meet my own expectations let along my wife’s or my kids’. The pastor also needs the solution they are presenting.
HC: What are some memories involving your church that stick out to you?
BC: Our first service was in Havana Social Club (Charlotte) in 2004, and I remember how exciting it was to be the first service. It seems so many things went wrong –the keyboard not having electricity, feeling terrible about my first message. The dream vision rarely happens. Maybe the first time was different than we thought, but I had profound gratitude in seeing the dream happen.
Another was when we gathered together in the facility for the first time after 12 years. It was a great moment. For those who had been there the whole time, our families had grown up together. When we started the church my son was 3, and my daughter was starting kindergarten. When we got the building, my daughter was a senior, and my son was a sophomore. ...It was very emotional. I knew a building wasn’t the end but a great beginning.
HC: What are some new things going on in the church?
BC: We have new Little LIFE Academy that’s a Monday through Friday daycare program that still has openings available. We are also doing things to connect churches. We are partnering with Lake Forest and Grace Covenant for night of worship at Grace on Sunday (Aug. 19 at 6 p.m.). We are nondenominational, Lake Forest is Presbyterian and Grace is Foursquare Pentecostal, and we all coming together for ONE night of worship. We will be holding ONE on Maundy Thursday, and we have the opportunity to connect with other churches.
HC: What are some of your church’s activities, missions or groups?
BC: We have LIFE groups different nights of the week. The hope is to meet together and enjoy community, spend time in fellowship and discussing spiritual faith and apply it to life and missional projects. … It’s sort of like a mini-church, and the leader is like a pastor who takes care of the group.
Other types of ministries are men’s, women’s LIFE groups, and LIFE university classes for financial, religion, Bible, marriage classes. Those are our main ministries.
HC: Anything else you would like people to know?
BC: Our hope is even if people disagree, we can appreciate in our hearts the different attitudes. … Everyone doesn’t even have to believe, but everyone has to agree to accept one another. … I’d love for people to come to Christ, but I hope people don’t burn bridges and can appreciate and love each other though they don’t see eye to eye.