By Shaun Szkolnik, for the Tribune
CENTER POINT – Victory City held their first church service in their new home on Sunday. That new home is in the recently renovated Hilldale building in Center Point. For Victory City the opportunity to worship is a blessing and an opportunity. It also signals a huge step forward for a new church plant that held its first official service March 10 of this year.
The senior pastor of Victory City is Brandon Knight. Knight is a 27-year-old graduate of both Samford and Dallas Theological Seminary. He dedicated his life to Christ when he was fifteen and has since served at East Side Baptist Church in Birmingham and First Memorial Baptist Church in, also in Birmingham. It was there that he felt the call to a different direction.
“It was while I was there that I felt led to plant a church,” said Knight. “I didn’t really think I had enough people or knew enough people. I didn’t even know where to begin. I reached out to this gospel singer names Pastor Smokie Norful. He has a pretty large congregation in Chicago. I knew that he had started a church with about 12 people. So, I reached out to him.”
Knight reached out to Norful through Instagram. Norful responded and flew Knight and his wife out to Chicago. They had an eight-hour meeting with Norful where they were immersed in what Knight calls, “Church Planting 101”. Norful gave them a crash course in what to expect, the ins, the outs, the commitments and the logistics of planting a church. This experience is also what inspired Knight to name the chuch plant Victory City.
“They have two campuses,” said Knight. “Their main campus in Bollingbrook is Victory Cathedral Worship Center. Their secondary campus, which is in the heart of Southside Chicago, is Victory City and so that is where we got the name Victory City Birmingham. It was our little way of paying homage to what and his church and many of the people there forward to us.”
With this knowledge and a whole lot of faith Knight and Victory City moved forward.
“We had our first interest meeting on July 22,” said Knight. “We had about 35 people who showed up, who were interested or just wanted to see what we were going to do. From then to March 10 we were meeting at the Northeast YMCA, really just doing Bible studies.”
From there Victory City quickly grew and actual church services began on March 10, they were held at Center Point High School.
Through the process Knight never lost sight of something he had come to realize during his time serving in other churches; that the cornerstone of any church must be the word of God and that the congregation must delve deep into the word.
“It opened up my eyes really to what the call of pastoring was,” said Knight. “It is the preaching, but I’m a big believer that the primary role of the pastor is to feed the people, to feed the flock. And you have to be, the Bible says, not a novice. That is why I spent a lot of my time getting deeper into the Word.”
That is not a lesson that Knight will forget now that Victory City has found a permanent home.
“We are really excited about the opportunity God has opened for us at Hilldale,” said Knight. “That is a multi-million-dollar facility, especially with the renovations that the city of Center Point has done. We’ll be worshipping, using primarily the sanctuary space. We’re just really excited to be at that facility and to actually be in a church. Being in a church, I think, helps a lot of people. Especially when your church planting to really see it as a church and to realize that it is a church. The high school has been great, the facility has been great there, but there is a bit more of ownership being able to use the facility at Hilldale.”
The growth of Victory City has been steady but not explosive. Knight is committed to building a church that has deep roots and not one that is sown on rocky ground.
“We started with about 35 people at the first interest meeting,” said Knight. “Not everyone wants to be a part of a church planting so kinda weened it out and from that number we had a good 15-20 who were really committed to planting a church and then a few months prior to the launch that jumped to another 30 or so. Since we’ve been meeting, we’ve been averaging about fifty. Even in the first few weeks we’ve seen a good steady growth. As a 27-year-old pastor that’s not what a lot of people would think I’d want, but I definitely prefer a slower controlled, steady growth, that is based on the word of God as opposed to any theatrics or performance or anything else. It is a good, solid, steady growth.”
That fits in with the mission of Victory City which is summed up in their motto. “Know, grow and sow”. Victory City wants to get people to know Christ, to grow in Christ and to sow Christ in others.
“We feel at Victory City that the most effective way to sow Christ into people is through the word of God, by the word of God,” said Knight. “Small groups can be great for fellowship, but the primary way that people grow is by hearing the word of God and being able to apply the contextual word of God to their lives. When they grow in the word of God, when they become Christians their primary goal is to go, invest and sow the word of God into others. That is how the church, as a whole, the body of Christ, grows and that is really important to us. We stress the word of God is the primary way. When we pray, when we sing, and I have to preach the word of God.”
Church services at Victory City begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings and generally end around 11:15 a.m. Knight said that about the sixth month mark, after moving into the new building, the church will look into starting a weekly Bible study.
There are no current plans to start a Sunday school program, that may change as more resources become available but Knight wants any program developed by Victory City to be more than just teaching out of a book, he wants teachers that are knowledgeable in the Bible and doctrinally sound.
“We have great childcare during the service,” said Knight. “Which is huge for us because it allows because it allows a lot more people to come in.”
The Hilldale building is located at 533 Sun Hill Road in Center Point.