Interview With John Sharp, Preacher To Seekers
By: Jason Cruise

Here’s A Brief Sketch of John & His Ministry :

Pastor (founding pastor), North Point Community Church in Columbia, SC.

M.Div., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth,TX
B.S., Communications, Univ. North Carolina Greensboro

Family: Christie (wife), two girls Bailey (2 1/2) Taylor (1 1/2)


Contact Info:


TP: Give us a brief description of your target audience. Are they seekers who are completely unchurched, de-churched seekers, etc? (people who are burned out from regular churches, etc)

Sharp: We are targeting young families with children, approximately 23-38. Our community is an explosive area of growth and families with children are rapidly filling new neighborhoods. Our children's ministry is a vital reaching tool for our young church. We are drawing a mixed bag of seekers, some completely unchurched and some who left the church years ago and are put out with religion. As any new church, we also draw churched families but most we see come because they prefer a contemporary church or want a church that is active in the community.

TP: What style or method of preaching are you currently using most?

Sharp: I preach topically most often. I am currently speaking about the fruit of the spirit, but use many different passages and approaches for each. This series is called Juicy Fruit.

TP: Why have you found that style to be effective given this audience??

Sharp: This style addresses felt needs of the people. Seekers come to hear something practical and relevant that they need and can apply to their lives immediately. I constantly stay connected to our core and spend enough time with seekers to stay on top of the spiritual and felt needs of the people. Then I try to give them a message from God's Word that they can use immediately.

TP: How much time do you give to sermon prep per week??

Sharp: Thirty-seven hours a week (I wish). I really spend about 8-10 hours a week on actual sermon preparation for that week. I would like for it to be at least 20, but I don't know any church planter that spends almost half his time on sermon prep. I don't think I will ever feel like I spend as much time as I would like, but most pastors wear more hats than they can handle and its even more intense for church planters. By God's grace, this will continue to increase in time and quality.

TP: What is the greatest hurdle or obstacle you have to overcome, personally, when it comes to doing sermon prep??

Sharp: Being a new church with only volunteer or part-time administrative help, I can't get away from interruptions most of the time. I have to answer the phone or take care of the little things that come up day-to-day. When I do have help I spend time helping the help. Recently my wife, who is an experienced administrative assistant, put in some time working in the church office. I was able to lock myself in my office and turn the ringer off. This is definitely the biggest challenge.

TP: Given that you are preaching to today’s modern, consumer crowd; a crowd that often comes to see what they can gain from any thing, even church; or, given that they are skeptics by nature, how are you measuring feedback to see if you are hitting your audience "where they live" ??

Sharp: I write letters to and call all our guests, and try to get a feel for what they are looking for and how we did. When it all comes down, the only true measure of effectiveness is a seeker who comes back. Mailing out response cards can help to an extent, but the return is the key.

TP: What is the most effective tool you have found that works in trying to communicate the Gospel with seekers??

Sharp: That's a loaded question. I think the most effective tool to communicate the Gospel in the service is a personal testimony to compliment the message. People are affected by the story of someone just like them being changed by Christ. Outside the service, the personal relationship is the most effective tool. I believe if pastors or church leaders could take every seeker or guest from the service out to lunch, the conversion rate would be phenomenal. It takes a personal touch! We have also seen great success with our membership class as a tool for evangelism. People come to learn about the church and join, and receive Christ for the first time before they leave.