I Love Life: The Embrace Story
One Sioux Falls, South Dakota church is making national headlines.
Outreach Magazine lists Embrace as one of the fastest growing churches in the country.
Adam Weber is the church’s pastor: “I really did not have a desire to start a new church. It hadn’t been something I dreamed about or was excited about. Really I was trying to run away from it to be honest with you. A pastor in South Dakota was really encouraging to me. One thing led to another. It’s truly amazing. For a new church, you should have a pastor who’s excited about the church and having a name and a vision—we really didn’t have anything.”
In the beginning, Adam admits it was a struggle to reach the community. “Just like starting any organization—it’s definitely a step of faith. A lot of times you question yourself like ‘what am I doing?’ At first, I was really unsure. We struggled to really grow above a hundred and really be self sustaining in the first year to year and a half. It wasn’t like we right out of the start just took off.”
Thanks to social media, Adam says the message about Embrace reached out to the masses. “It was a lot of word of mouth and also social media. I was actually a business marketing major at Augustana College and never thought I’d be a pastor. I still can’t believe they let me…We have people come, get in their cars and put their thoughts about Embrace on Facebook.”
That message has caught on like wild fire. “My favorite thing I say I’m the most unlikely of pastors. I love that the people that come are the most unlikely people in church. We’re seeing a lot of people who may have had zero connection to a church or jaded by the church and kept their distance. Now, they’re getting excited and telling all their friends about it. It’s almost like they’re little kids—so excited about something.”
So, how has Embrace, one of the country’s fastest growing churches, affect Adam? “I am definitely a work in progress. Just talking and meeting people where they’re at! We have actually lost our way in the church. Jesus always went to the people. Paul always went to the people. There has been a shift in the last hundred years especially where we asked the people to come to us…and talk like this or look like this before you come. That’s not the Jesus I see! The Jesus I see is constantly going to the people. We’re doing the same thing—meeting the people right where they’re at. If they don’t know a single Bible verse—just not making them feel they’re out of place.”
Perhaps that’s why Embrace is ranked as one of the top ten churches for percentage gain in attendance!