- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

EDINBURGH, Ind. (AP) - Every Sunday, the members of Blue RiverBaptist Church gather to celebrate their faith.

They sing hymns, listen to a sermon from Pastor Justin Surface and reflect on the Bible verses that instruct on living a virtuous life.

But instead of meeting in a quaint historic building or a modern mega-church, the Blue River members meet in the banquet room of the Edinburgh Holiday Inn Express.

“The purpose of the service is coming away from the busyness of life, the temptations of life, and coming together as a people to encourage each other,” Surface told the Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1iyvBy8 ). “As long as we have a place to go, that’s all that matters.”

While Johnson County has its share of congregations spanning nearly 200 years, a new crop of churches are forming to meet the changing religious needs of the area. Meeting in hotel banquet rooms, schools and community centers, these church plants are an attempt to evangelize to the thousands of county residents who don’t call any particular church home.

“God has wired some of us to be entrepreneurs, and we like starting something,” said Ken Dalton, pastor of Village Bible Church in Greenwood. “You normally find with church planters, you get bored just keeping it going, so we like to start something new.”

Church planting has grown as the impression that existing churches are not prevalent enough to meet all the needs of Christians.

According to North American Mission Board, which helps churches reach new members, Indiana has one Christian church for every 1,500 to 1,800 people.

Evangelical groups felt the need to provide new faith opportunities and spread to ministry to more people.

Converge MidAmerica, a network of mission-based churches in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, saw an increase from 86 churches in 2000 to 186 in 2011. Those churches now reach 50,000 people.

Driving that effort is a wave of young pastors who are eager to spread the word of Christ and reach a new audience of Christians.

Surface, 26, and his wife, Cassie, 25, were installed as the pastors at Blue RiverBaptist Church in March. The 12-member congregation formed in 2008, but the resignation of the pastor left the future of the church in doubt.

When the Surfaces moved to Edinburgh from Cincinnati, the church had just lost its meeting place at the Edinburgh Community Room.

Justin and Cassie Surface had been pastoring for a church in the Cincinnati area when they felt called by God to move back to Indiana. Both are originally from the area - Justin Surface from Bargersville, and Cassie Surface from Mooresville.

“He put it on our hearts to move to Edinburgh, even though we weren’t exactly sure what we were supposed to do,” Justin Surface said.

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