“We started thinking about things that would be descriptive of this church and this worship service,” said Randy Barnhart, senior minister. “The number 306 came up. The address of the church is 306 College Street And Luke 3:6 (3:06) says, ‘And all people will see God’s salvation.’ It seems that the intersection of Luke and 306 College Street will be where God intersects with our lives.”
Barnhart said he likes the name “306” because the verse in Luke expresses the mission of the service, which is to reach people for Christ.
“This service is designed for people who don’t do church,” he said. “They don’t want to dress like church people. They don’t know church lingo and they don’t listen to church music. It’s much more contemporary.”
Barnhart said the new 306 service will be launched at 11 a.m. this Sunday in the old church sanctuary, a structure which dates back to the mid-20th Century.
He noted that the church will continue its traditional 9 a.m. Sunday service, known as “Celebration,” in the newer building where the old post office was once located.
“It has the traditional worship service with piano and organ,” he said. “We have a fabulous traditional worship leader, Louanne Hutcheson. She is the best traditional worshiper I’ve ever heard.”
However, the original church building, where “306” will be held, is now an unusual mixture of new and old.
“We’ve renovated the old sanctuary,” he said. “When you get inside the room, it has a contemporary feel, but it still has the stained glass and the old architecture.”
He said the 20-somethings in the church love the building because it is “retro and pretty hip.” The inside now looks more like a theater, with black ceilings and wall tops and a huge 16-foot-wide screen at the front.
“We have a new HD (high definition) projector, something really attractive to folks who do videos,” he said. “There’s a whole new music system and drum room. The walls on the side have been painted a deep brownish-red, which is fantastic.”
The contemporary worship leader will be Ryan Kiesshauer, who has led worship services for more than 10 years, starting at the Christian Campus Fellowship at Georgia Tech.
“He has some albums on iTunes and plays all the popular contemporary Christian music,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart came to First Christian in January. He was born in Salem, Va., a small city of about 25,000 people in southwest Virginia, just west of Roanoke.
“One reason I love Carrollton so much is that it’s like my hometown in size and the people here are so similar,” he said.
Barnhart earned his B.A. degree in religion at Point University in West Point, Ga. and his master’s in theology at Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Johnson City, Tenn. He later studied law at Georgia State University and earned his juris doctor degree in 2001.
“I have a lot of friends who are lawyers and my brother practices law in Atlanta,” he said. “I didn’t ever practice law, but I loved law school. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.”
However, Barnhart said he was half way through law school when he realized how much he missed the church.
“I was already looking at churches while I was still in law school,” he said.
He met his wife-to-be, Wendy Waites, in 1981 while serving as youth minister in Roswell, near Atlanta.
They have two sons, Andrew, a University of Georgia English and broadcast journalism graduate, who is working with the University of Georgia football broadcasts, and Benjamin, a senior at Woodward Academy. They have two pets, a Labrador retriever named Bernie and a kitten named Monster. Barnhart’s hobbies include reading, college football, golf and being with friends and family.
According to church history, the First Christian Church congregation dates back to August, 1872, and a local group of believers in Christ who wanted to use the New Testament as the only guide for their faith and practice.
The independent congregation is a community style church that governs itself and has lay leaders and ministry as staff. It is led by a group of leaders called elders and staff. Its spiritual roots go back to the Restoration Movement of the early 19th century in frontier America.
In addition to the Sunday 9 a.m. traditional service and 11 a.m. “306” contemporary service, the church has Sunday school at 10 a.m. There is also a Wednesday supper at 5:30 p.m., no charge, with donations accepted, and Bible studies at 6:30 p.m.
Church office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday. The office is closed on holidays.
The office phone number is 770-832-3974 and the fax number is 770-832-2854. Barnhart can be reached anytime at 678-576-8014.