The RADIUS Story
The RADIUS Story
The RADIUS Story
The RADIUS Story
The RADIUS Story
In the summer of 2003, a small group of men and women came together in Lexington, SC and Columbia, SC to plant a church. That year, RADIUS Church and Oasis Church began as two separate bodies. But by the Fall of 2004, the two churches merged and began meeting in Midway Elementary School as RADIUS Church.
A Church is Planted
In June of 2003, John and Cheryl Reeves—who had just recently planted churches in Clemson, SC and Atlanta, GA—felt a stirring to head to the greater Columbia area to plant a church. John Reeves quickly began recruiting, and soon Salim and Amanda Khalil, Jeremiah Jones, and Duncan Pleming met in an apartment in Lexington, South Carolina. Six adults began praying, meeting, and preparing for God’s work in their area.
In the Fall of 2003, just a few months after we first met, in a leap of faith, Rick Parks and Lexington Community Church offered their facilities to us. We moved into the building and began meeting every Sunday. Soon, those six adults meeting in that little apartment became something more: Oasis Church.
Of course, one church plant wasn’t enough. And John Reeves and several of the Oasis leaders were looking toward downtown Columbia for opportunity and favor from God to start another church: RADIUS Church, which began meeting in a coffee shop named “Jammin’ Java” off Main Street in Columbia.
RADIUS and Oasis Merge
In August of 2004, it seemed obvious that two separate churches led by the same leaders was a flawed approach. Not to mention Lexington Community Church and Jammin’ Java were both lacking space and potential. Instead, we combined both congregations, took the name “RADIUS,” found an elementary school to meet in, and honed in on Lexington, SC as our focal point.
The years 2004-2007 represented a time of foundational growth for RADIUS Church. After merging, RADIUS Church became known for its “crazy” generosity. We didn’t have a whole lot of resources then, but we tried to serve creatively with what we had. Movies in the Park, handing out thousands of free newspapers or mountain dews or roses for Valentine’s Day… this was the kind of stuff that developed the foundation of RADIUS Church. As leadership changes came into play, several younger men bore greater weight in the church. This time is described as “whiplash” for members and leaders alike at RADIUS – who were functioning at an incredibly fast pace without much infrastructure.
Movies in the Park
Every week of the summer, volunteers set up a huge projector at Finlay Park in Columbia. Hundreds—and eventually even a couple thousand—passersby would come and grab free popcorn, drinks, and a movie.
RADIUS bought and handed out newspapers for free for months to the communities around the church building. One person driving, one person folding the papers, and two running alongside the car distributing the newspapers on either side.
Giving out 4,000 Mountain Dews during the St. Patty’s Day Parade during the early days of RADIUS led to future parade participation! It usually involves the baptism pool in a trailer with lots of volunteers scrambling to snatch freezing cold drinks, handing them to anyone and everyone watching the parade.
RADIUS purchased thousands of roses that groups (stationed in parking lots and intersections) handed out to women. However, they happened to do this in front of a BI-LO… which happened to be right beside a florist’s shop… the owner of which happened to know Chris Seeby, one of the pastors – you can imagine how that went down.
The Family Popcorn Bowl
To set a culture of generosity, John Reeves filled the family popcorn bowl with $5 bills and passed it around on a Sunday morning so that the people of RADIUS could take money and use it in their own communities. Our folks also began giving $20 tips to waiters and waitresses after Sunday services. They were trying to do life with each other and with the community for Christ.
RADIUS Leaders were developed through HD Meetings which stood for “high definition”. These meetings would often begin with the question: “Someone tell me a story from the last seven days where you served one of your neighbors.” Worship led by Jeremiah Jones was next and then prayer in small groups where laps were taken around each circle as neighbors were prayed for by name.
RADIUS Church was just settling in when its leader, John Reeves, felt a tug pulling him to plant another church in Greenville, SC. He and his family were up and moving in no time, and soon they had found a golden opportunity when John discovered a building in the heart of where he wanted to plant. After already sending their leader, the believers at RADIUS in Lexington decided to generously give $50,000 to buy that building. It became home not only to a church which still stands today, but also to the “Frazee Dream Center” for hundreds of underprivileged children in the area.
The Lord provided RADIUS Church with a new leader in Todd Carnes as it transitioned in 2008. RADIUS became more innovative and organized in its pursual of radical generosity as it served the community and rolled out Vision 2012 to give away $1 million, have 100 small groups, and plant 1 church.
Todd Carnes Becomes Pastor
For about eighteen months, John Reeves would drive to Lexington to preach every morning, and then he would drive back to preach at night in Greenville. RADIUS Lexington was in desperate need of a new leader and teacher. Soon, Todd Carnes came on the scene. Originally, he wanted to plant his own church, but he figured it would be a better idea to join and head a church that was already being planted. RADIUS Lexington began growing in organization and stability.
The Party Church
RADIUS did things that made people feel uncomfortable – like have parties after church or before church. Things like field days and Slip n Slides and Jeep pulls on Sundays. Outdoor baptisms in 40 degree weather and giving away 100 $100 bills on a Sunday morning to hold our people responsible to impact their radius.
Real Life. Real Faith.
Sharing life with each other across the table has always been core to RADIUS. They wanted real change in their lives because they believed in a real God. As RADIUS grew, leadership continued to challenge everyone to ask someone to lunch and take time to hear their story.
Todd Carnes and Jerry Dominic rolled out Vision 2012. The challenge was to:
- Give away $1 million dollars
- Have 100 small groups
- Plant 1 church
After supporting several other ministries, RADIUS Church was finally able to buy, renovate and move into their own building from October 2010 – April 2011. As they moved into the building, RADIUS improved its Kids ministries, served a new radius and doubled in size. RADIUS Lexington moved to 300 West Main Street.
For seven years—over 300 Sundays—RADIUS Church met in an elementary school. We’ve always wanted people to know that the Church is not a building. But at some point, it became very necessary for growth and impact in the community for us to finally find one. In October of 2010, RADIUS Church found an old Piggly Wiggly turned Aced Hardware and began fixing it up to support Sunday morning gatherings.
A New Home
After tons of volunteers led the charge in demo, teardown, painting, and construction, the new location on Main Street opened. On Easter Sunday of 2011, we opened up the building for the first time and had two times as many people. RADIUS Lexington has met there ever since.
Serving Our Neighbors
Even as RADIUS prepared to move into the new building, a group of around 80 volunteers undertook a series of projects all along Main Street to serve the people near them. From raking leaves to painting signs to singing Christmas carols, RADIUS Church quickly introduced themselves to their new neighbors.
RADIUS Kids and Students
Joe Pitts was hired as the first Kids ministry leader which included birth – 18. RADIUS began focusing on an atmosphere of fun; letting kids play as the Gospel was woven into those times. Volunteers were being recruited and by 2012, a committed group of middle and high school group leaders were volunteering hours of their time to lead RADIUS Students. Chaos became organized chaos!
RADIUS established its name and its beliefs as it embarked on a slew of fun internal and outreach ministries while creating several intriguing sermon series to combat the culture of the day and grow in relationship with the churches of Lexington. Meanwhile, RADIUS focused its efforts on planting RADIUS White Knoll, RADIUS Saluda and creating missions opportunities around the globe.
RADIUS White Knoll
In 2013, RADIUS Lexington asked 75 members to “go” and plant a church in Red Bank, South Carolina—20 minutes down the road. This was the first church plant birthed not only from the resources of RADIUS Lexington, but from its members as well. Soon, John Reeves and his family returned from Dubuque, IA where he planted RADIUS Dubuque, and he began helping with the new church plant in White Knoll. RADIUS White Knoll met in a school for several years as well before receiving a building as a free gift from another church.
For five years, Ben and Holly Harrison called RADIUS Church in Lexington home. They brought friends and neighbors near them, and they even began a small group. The only problem was that this church body was close to an hour drive away. Wanting a church where they could serve their “radius” more effectively, the Harrisons and their small group from Saluda began meeting regularly and praying about what it would mean to become a church plant. Soon, RADIUS Saluda became its own and Trey Shealy grew into the leader of their congregation.
- Family Vacations – Get-aways for hundreds in our church body for fun, deep and compelling worship and a refocus on God.
- Give Hope- Partnering with schools to be generous to families who are in crisis – funneling money swiftly to those in need.
- The Year of the Priest – Todd Carnes asked the church to dwell on 1 Peter 2:9 and what it looked like to be a priest in your radius – “Going to people on behalf of God and God on behalf of people.” Priest collars were given to those who embraced this challenge.
- Sermon Series: Sex Ed (Song of Solomon), Together for the City
- Missions – Partnering with Hydromissions to create wells for those who don’t have clean drinking water. GEMS – A church planting partnership in India.
Todd Carnes stepped out of his role leading RADIUS as John Reeves stepped back in. Meanwhile, RADIUS has planted churches in Saluda, Centerville, Irmo, and Columbia. Even during the COVID pandemic, RADIUS Southside was planted.
In 2017, we were running into a problem at RADIUS Lexington: too few seats. Not a bad problem. It felt like the sort of problem that the Lord was using to prod us to plant another church. So, Ryan Molony, who had only been hired on staff at RADIUS Church the year prior, was tasked with recruiting as many families to move out to the Gilbert, Leesville, outer Lexington area. 120 men and women moved from the stability of RADIUS Lexington to a school building across town. Since week one, RADIUS Centerville has met in a school building for two years, outside in a field for one, and in their new building since Easter of 2021.
Similar to the group in Saluda, RADIUS Irmo began with a Bible Study, and soon became something more. After John Reeves and then Ross Kellis helped support the early stages of growth, Patrick Olson stepped up and stepped away from his job to come on staff at RADIUS Church and lead the congregation in Irmo.
Cheryl Reeves was out for a walk one day when she stopped to talk to one of her neighbors, Thereasa Hodge. Long-story short, Thereasa heard a story Cheryl told about receiving a facility from a dwindling church for free to plant a new church. Being a member of Southside Baptist Church in Columbia, Thereasa invited Cheryl and John to tour her own church building. Soon, friendships were struck and Southside Baptist Church merged with RADIUS Church, becoming RADIUS Church Southside in Columbia, South Carolina. Hearing about the opportunity to plant a church and feeling led to help, Scott and Jess Shuford picked up their four boys and moved to Columbia, SC.
- John returns to RADIUS to lead and to focus on training and sending others to plant churches.
- Serve Saluda involved students in loving our neighbors in Saluda.
- Buildings – White Knoll and Southside were given buildings by Chapel of Redemption in White Knoll and Southside Baptist in Columbia. A laptop factory was purchased and renovated to impact the RADIUS Centerville community.
- All-RADIUS Sundays began via a few videos a year to all campuses. This provides a unified voice and vision to speak to our entire church promoting our togetherness as we exalt Christ.
- COVID-19 – When COVID hit, we quickly shifted to online worship for two months during COVID. Our innovative spirit rose once again as we loved our neighbors through Groceries on the Go, outdoor worship, free pizzas, and food trucks for teachers. Let’s don’t forget the RADIUS Camp chairs used to visit with your neighbors outside as well as outdoor church!