What pandemic? Parkview Church’s mission is to keep it simple
If your church closed for good, would people in the community notice? Parkview Pastor Greg Peters has no plans to close, but if it ever did, “I wish they would know and be sad.”
To that end, since the church’s founding 23 years ago (it was called Palm Coast Baptist Church at first), Peters has attempted to keep mission simple and community engagement impactful. The church, located at 5435 Belle Terre Parkway, offers the largest trunk or treat in town and also hosts drive-thru experiences at Christmas and Easter, in addition to helping feed those in need.
For the Christmas offering in 2020, the goal was $ 150,000, he said in a recent interview with the Palm tree coast observer. “We took $ 214,000,” he said. Of that amount, about half was donated to Flagler County charities or children’s scholarships.
In this interview, Peters discussed the state of faith in 2021, simplicity, and its approach to oneness and truth.
Do Americans have less faith today than 50 years ago?
It’s fragmented. Compared to 50 years ago, there is more faith available to people than ever before. All apps, all available hardware, TV channel and radio programming.
Also, 50 years ago there would have been 10 churches in the United States that would have over 5,000. Now you would have hundreds of churches that lead over 5,000.
Is faith valued less as a character trait than it was before?
Unfortunately, I think you are right. When I was a kid – I’m 50 now – I remember families going to church several times a week. Families are prioritizing a lot of other things now.
Sometimes we see opportunities as the things that bring success, but they can also be distractions.
The country is divided over abortion and same-sex marriage, two subjects associated with religious communities. What can spiritual leaders do to heal instead of dividing?
While our goal is to bring healing, we also know that the truth can be offensive. Often times, I don’t want to hear the truth; this is why Scripture tells us that we are to be filled with grace and truth. When I preached the scriptures, there are some harsh words in there; some of them offended me when he reported my sin. Others are offended when he reports their sin.
I am not here to win a popularity contest. I am here to help people understand what faith is, and how to access a home in Heaven, and how to live an abundant life.
The more society deviates from the truth, what I found is that people have a much greater appreciation for the truth. I feel like the more I preach clearly
Bible, the more our people respond to it. The scriptures are like a sword that pierces deeply, and there is a big difference between the different types of knives. A surgeon’s knife is used to provide healing; the thief’s knife is used to do harm. I see the scriptures as the knife to bring healing. No one likes surgery, but sometimes it has to be done.
Polls have shown Christians are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories like QAnon – this deep state conspiracy, with darkness trying to control the government. Are you worried about this and what can be done?
It pains me. We’re bombarded with conspiracy theories all the time right now.
Psychology has done a lot of study on this, and one thing they see is what they would call the illusion of the cynical genius. When I see people turning to conspiracy theories, they’re either super smart or maybe they’re below average and want to feel like the smartest person in the room.
The second reason Christians turn to conspiracy theories is that they do not want to believe that the Lord knows what He is doing; we have to find a reason why these things are happening, and we have to bring order to the chaos.
The third reason is because of social media. How many times do you go to Facebook and search for loose shirts and then get ads for loose shirts on your feed? People are starting to look for these [conspiracies], and all of a sudden they’re locked up. I fear that we have stopped thinking and learning, and I think we are more and more sticking to what we already believe and not looking to the other side.
You are the founding pastor of one of the largest congregations on the Palm Coast. What is Parkview doing correctly?
We are very grateful that we can serve so many people. We have been hyper vigilant for 23 years around our mission, which is to “Guide people towards a change of life in Jesus Christ”. I put up a slide on a screen at the start of the pandemic and said, “This is a list of the top 10 ways our mission has changed because of the pandemic.” And next to each number, it was empty. Because nothing has changed.
As organizations grow, do they move toward simplicity or toward complexity? I think everyone would say that as it grows an organization tends to evolve into complexity. You add people and add products. For me, one of the main parts of my job description is to keep keeping it simple. I don’t want us to be burdened with overprogramming. We stay focused. If a certain ministry, mission, or program does not guide people toward a life change in Jesus Christ, we must say no. And we say no to very good things. At the end of the day, we are talking about preaching the Bible.
What principles guide your reaction when people come to you for help?
Often times when I meet people I find that I cannot solve their problem. And usually they come to me at a time of crisis, and they didn’t get into it overnight, so we’re not going to fix it overnight. But I try to let them know from the start that while I might not be able to resolve their issue, I care. I love them and I want them to feel it.
I also live by this motto: Try to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.
And I have to admit that I’m called to be a pastor, and yes, I’ve taken counseling classes, and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years of ministry, but sometimes situations are beyond my ability. My theory is that sometimes we try to help people we can’t help. So I’m trying to have resources available that are better than what I could provide. Sometimes I say, “You need professional advice, but come back every 60 days and tell me how it’s going. “