September 24, 2014
By: Tiffany Kriss
Student, Mid-Atlantic Christian University
Marty Anderson is an 2003 alumnus of Mid-Atlantic Christian University. Marty graduated from James Madison University in 2000, and then he went to Mid-Atlantic Christian University (MACU) from 2000-2003, and graduated as valedictorian of his class. Marty met his wife, Exie, at MACU and she graduated the same year as Marty. While at MACU, Marty and his wife both majored in theology, and he minored in preaching while she minored in nonprofit leadership. After graduation, Marty completed a yearlong internship at Southeast Christian Church, where he learned about church leadership and management. Marty and Exie returned to MACU after his internship and recruited for the university for a number of years. Marty went on to preach at Friends in Fellowship Christian Church in Winterville, North Carolina for the next six and a half years. While Marty was preaching, Exie was working at East Carolina University.
In 2013, Marty and Exie moved out to Winston Salem and they started a church called Westside Christian Church. The church launched on October 20, 2013 in Lewisville, North Carolina (western side of Winston Salem) with the help of Jefferson Church of Christ, Virginia Evangelizing Fellowship (VEF), and North Carolina Envision (NCE). Jefferson Church of Christ is the mother church of Westside, and they helped the church get started and they continue to provide leadership for Westside. VEF is, among other things, a church planting organization, that taught Marty how to start a new church, and Tim Cole is his coach in this endeavor. NCE provides Westside with financial and moral support. These two organizations, along with Jefferson Church of Christ, have really helped Westside as they launched, and are continuing to help them as the focus on their target, which is to reach the unchurched.
Since the goal of Westside is to reach the unchurched, the decisions made by the leadership are focused on how to make as inviting and comfortable of an environment for people who have never been to church, or who have not been to church in a while. Westside originally launched with 218 people, and since then, they have had up to 800 people come to the church. Weekly attendance is around 260. Since the launch, 20 people have been baptized. Westside has kept up with the 20 who have been baptized, and Marty described them as “doing well.” Westside has a core of people who really keep Westside running smoothly, and Marty described them as “a very talented host of people.” Exie Anderson helps out with the children’s ministry at Westside, as do Ottis and Kay Cox. Evan Norris (an alumnus of MACU) is the youth minister there, and Chip Mabe (current MACU student) helps out when he is in the area. In describing Westside, and the experience of starting a new church, Marty said…
It has been an amazing year. I mean, we’ve been on the ground here for a year and it’s pretty awesome. We are about to have our one year anniversary as a church on October 26th. To think that just a year ago, none of this even existed really. We are really proud of what God has been able to do and the partnerships we’ve had. It’s exciting work. I have never felt more like this is what God wants me to do, and I think that everything else was preparation.
By “everything else,” Marty was referring to his internship opportunity at Southeast Christian Church, as well as, his time preaching at Friends in Fellowship Christian Church. In terms of education, MACU prepared Marty and Exie in giving them a solid foundation. Before he went to MACU, Marty said that he didn’t really know anything about the Bible, and that going to MACU was the first time he learned some Bible stories because he did not have the Sunday school background that some do. At MACU, Marty was exposed to conferences and other preachers, which helped him develop a network of mentors and people involved in ministry. Without the foundation that he received at MACU, and subsequently, through his various ministry opportunities prior to Westside, Marty made it clear that he would not have the know how or experience to do ministry. All of his experiences in ministry, especially Westside, he does not think he would have been able to do any of it if he was not a graduate from a Bible college.