One congregation in The Woodlands was acting like a church before they officially opened their doors and held their first service.
The Ridge Community Church hosted their first official service one year ago: Sept. 10, 2017. Danny Watterson, the church’s senior pastor, had been planning for the launch for months along with his wife, Brandi, and a handful of local families.
But just a week before the official launch, Hurricane Harvey hit— leaving thousands of local residents in need of help.
“We didn’t even have a congregation, but (we thought) let’s do the only thing we know to do and start serving. Let’s be the hands and feet of Christ,” Danny said.
So, instead of hosting the first services with new parishioneres, the church building along Falconwing Drive became a drop-site for clothes, food and diapers while volunteers turned up to make food and take part in clean-up efforts.
“It turned out to be incredible. Our story is that we were serving the community even before we were a church,” Danny said.
When it came time to have their first service, more than 200 people attended.
Brandi said that the experience of serving together helped the church to grow and start off strong.
While the number of attendees has since dropped to about half that, which is typical for most new churches, the Wattersons said they’re pleased that they’re celebrating their first anniversary despite an unexpected beginning.
“Even though there were challenges and obstacles, it’s been such a fulfilling year because of the community that we’ve been able to be part of,” Brandi said.
The church’s foundation is based on family, service and community. The Wattersons offer women’s and men’s ministries and dinner clubs along with children, student and worship ministries.
The decision to start this church has been years in the making, according to Danny. He had been in ministry previously, serving as a student pastor at Lakewood Church and as a campus pastor at The Woodlands Church location in Katy.
After those opportunities, Danny said he began working as a search consultant for a company that helps churches develop their teams and find staff members.
Along the way, though, he and Brandi said they were praying for the opportunity to be church leaders again. Coincidentally, Brandi, who owns Brighton Academy preschool, was looking for a building to open up a new location.
When a friend told them about a building that was available that had space for both a school and a church, the couple decided to eventually take a look at it.
“We were remaining open, but proceeding with caution. When we walked through (the building) that was when everything started to change,” Danny said. “It felt like God had prepared us for this, and it just made sense.”
As for long-term goals, Danny said he would like The Ridge to be a church that helps “plant,” or form, other churches.
“We want to recreate this community and life-giving place of service. It’s awesome to see God work through relationships and the vision that He has given us,” Danny said.
For now, the Wattersons said they want to savor the “birthday” moment.
“You only have one first year, and I want to really take it in,” Danny said. “The longest part of building a house is laying the foundation. We need to enjoy the stage that we’re in.”
To do that, they’re kicking of a five-week sermon series starting Sept. 16 on the church’s core values.