At Lifepoint church in Monkey Junction, the choir prefers t-shirts to robes and electric guitars to organs. There are no pews -- just folding chairs and bleachers. Then there's lead Pastor Jeff Kapusta, a 31-year-old who loves to surf and hates to dress up. Lifepoint is his vision of what church should be. "I grew up in church but I was bored out of my mind and church wasn't somewhere I wanted to be," Kapusta said. "I feel like we have the most exciting, life changing message in all the world. We ought to be able to speak it in a way that makes sense and connects with the younger generation." Kapusta has been preaching his version of the gospel at Myrtle Grove Middle in Monkey Junction every Sunday for the past two years. He draws a fairly large crowd (500 by his count) that may not have otherwise gone to church at all. "Maybe they felt like they were judged at church, or they felt like church was full of hypocrites or maybe church was boring," said Kapusta. "What we want to do is reach those people with the message of Jesus and say church isn't boring and Jesus is relevant." "This is not religion, this is Christianity," said Lifepoint member Joe Carr. "Christianity as you see it in the new testament is live, it's vibrant, it's growing, it's changing. Religion -- old stagnant, stale, no interest, boring." Lifepoint is only a small part of larger movement. One that's becoming more and more popular both in our region and across the country. "Some call them seekers of spirituality, some call it jokingly the Church of Barnes and Noble. What they're talking about are people who when asked are you religious they say no I'm not religious but I'm spiritual," said UNCW history and religious studies Professor Walter Conser. "That segment of the population will grow." "I do feel more accepted in Lifepoint than I do in other places," said Lifepoint member Steve Rassin. "I don't feel judged as much and more importantly I feel like others aren't judged as much." Rassin was raised Catholic. He and his wife sampled different churches in the area before ending up at Lifepoint. "The message is simple enough so I can understand it, but it's focused enough that it makes sense to me," Rassin said. But once you get past the informality and the rock music, you have to wonder, what exactly is Kapusta's message? "We just believe that there's hope," Kapusta said. "There's hope in Jesus, there's hope in the cross, God loves us right where we're at." "To think about what this church would look like come the year 2020, my hope is that's the message being broadcast." As more people move to our area, Kapusta says he hopes to expand his church beyond Monkey Junction. He's aiming to set up branches in all of the five counties to reach as many potential congregants as possible. Lifepoint is one of many spirituality-seeking churches in the area. Religious studies Professor Walter Conser predicts there will be even more by 2020.
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