Pastor’s mission: Connect people with God

By Louise Swartzmiller - Bellville Star

BELLVILLE — There are about 98,000 people living within a ten-mile radius of Impact Church outside Bellville.

Of those, probably 18,000 are committed to a church.

That means the other 70,000 could be left in a void if Christ were to return today, says Randy Clour, lead pastor at Impact.

Impact Church serves a large area, going into Mansfield and south to Fredericktown, said Clour.

As new pastor at the church, Clour says the idea is that the church can be “attractional” to the masses. It is a goal to have an “impact on people who come here.”

Clour came to Bellville from a church in New Jersey, near Camden.

He said Camden is on the border of two counties, and has been deemed the “most dangerous city.” There are many homeless and there is much drug use, he said.

He helped start that church through a church plan, he said. He was brought to Ohio by a district superintendent in Dublin. He replaces Pastor Mike Sweeney.

Impact is a Wesleyan church, close in doctrine to the Methodist and Nazarene churches, he said. The Wesleyan doctrine can be more conservative in some respects, he said.

Impact Church is “Jesus-centric in everything we do,” he said.

People are invited to the church to experience “life-giving” moments, he said.

Things happening in the world outside churches can expose people to drug use, homelessness, human trafficking, he said.

People can live in a great community, but should see value if they find someone in need and can be of help in meeting that need. He said it “shouldn’t be us getting glory for that” help, he said. People should “meet needs in the name of Christ.”

He was told about a sign on Interstate-71, which says it was put there by Mid-Ohio Atheists.

He said if atheists “know Jesus as I know Jesus they couldn’t help but love him, too.”

He believes his role as pastor is to “connect people with God.”

If a man or woman has any doubt about the truthfulness about religion, there is an opening in that person to become informed and become a believer, he said.

Beliefs in a person “lead to behavior,” he said.

If he is at a stop sign and sees a person needing help, he can go by, or stop and help.

Clour received his Master of Divinity at Indiana University. He had been executive director of AtlantiCare, in the corporate health care world, he said.

He said that was a job that yielded “good money.”

He was asked why he was leaving, and he told friends “God will take care of me.”

Making the decision and leaving was a “powerful moment” and was sad, he said.

The past two places he served had many millennials. He said many of those young people are not interested in an organized church.

He thinks if those people were “called out there” to make a difference, they would be on board.

He talks about redemption. This is something that came from Jewish patriarchal culture. Jesus, a Jew, was trying to bring people into his culture.

He said the average person has 10,000 impressions a day.

“How do you cut through that?” he said.

“We are all on a journey, ultimately,” he added.

When he was involved with starting a church, “every person who walked through that door” could have been a doubter, he said.

There was one man at a church who said “I don’t think God cares about me,” Clour said.

He shared that the man had made bad choices, but could start making good choices.

There are “earthly consequences to earthly decisions,” he said.

In human psychology, people are told to talk about what they love the most.

He said he talked with others at lunch about Jesus. This kind of talking is whatever a person keeps at their “center,” he said.

Some people may not be comfortable in doing anything when they see someone in need, he said. He calls it a “disassociation.”

But faith should not be an “academic experience,” he said, but should be expressed in action. It should “never be completely cerebral,” he said.

The pastor says “love is not a feeling, but an action.”

He said he believes millennials are “just digging deeper.”

He mentioned writer James Emery White, who write a book called “The Rise of the Nones.”

He returns to the figure of 70,000 in a community who may not be attached to a church. Of those people, probably half had some negative experience” with a church. He said that means there is an “opportunity to reconnect.”

The idea is to “poke holes in their doubt.”

By Louise Swartzmiller

Bellville Star