Jackson County

Ocean Springs megachurch finds a home, needs a shepherd

Mosaic Church has carved out a major spot on the landscape along U.S. 90 with its new worship center, set to open in mid-November.

In one year, the church that began eight years ago in someone’s home has bought and paid for a strip mall near downtown, borrowed the money to turn it into a worship center, had its founding preacher resign and still kept its numbers strong while interviewing candidates for a new lead pastor.

At Easter, it welcomed more than 3,000 attending the weekend services, which qualifies it for megachurch status.

But it doesn’t think of itself as a megachurch, elder Doug Molyneaux said. In fact, he was a little taken aback by the designation.

“We don’t want to be a megachurch,” he said. “It’s not our goal. We’d rather plant churches.”

The church’s mission is to establish community groups, and it’s set up to grow new churches in conjunction with the Acts 29 Network out of Seattle.

For now, there is only the Ocean Springs church. But that has been a major renovation endeavor, turning the building that used to be Bayview Furniture store, and later a Latin rumba club, into a worship complex with several sanctuaries, a wing for children’s studies and another for staff, state-of-the-art music and a parking lot to accommodate the weekend crowds.

It had been arguably the ugliest building in Ocean Springs, along the main thoroughfare, said Molyneaux, who works in real estate. Now it is attractive with its sweeping white entrance awning and huge open foyer.

“We love taking things that are messed up and making them new again,” he said.

Taking time with pastor search

Mosaic has closed the Gulfport church it had for several years and is interviewing candidates for lead pastor.

The elders in July asked the founding and senior pastor to resign over pastoral misconduct, a blow to the church, he said. A general statement about that is posted on Mosaic’s Facebook page. Elders did not get into details or specifics, he said, and they allowed the pastor to apologize to the congregation via a video.

So the church is taking its time selecting a new pastor.

With the help of a church head-hunter organization vetting more than 100 nationally recognized preachers, Mosaic hopes to select a pastor to lead the church for years, Molyneaux said.

The senior preachers they are meeting with now need to be a good fit, he said. The Slingshot church staffing group is doing the initial interviews based on Mosaic’s profile. They are looking for someone who has the “gifts and talents needed to meet the profile.”

“We’re bringing in guys we already know can preach,” Molyneaux said. “These are the top 5 percent in the country, extremely good at what they do. We want to make sure they’re a good fit for us.

“With all that we’ve been through, we want someone with character.

“Hopefully they will be the pastor for the next 30 years.”

They’ve narrowed it down to eight “solid guys,” he said. They spent last week with one, and another will meet with the staff this week.

Move in November

Elders expect to move into the church’s new home in mid-November.

They are finishing the floors and reconfiguring the parking lot.

It has been a church for less than a decade and with the help of a dynamic preaching staff, has outgrown more than one location. The place they’re leaving had once been the End Zone skating rink.

“Our staff has stepped up in a huge way and is stronger as a result of what happened,” Molyneaux said. “We’re not happy it happened, don’t get me wrong. It was very painful. Our church has really stepped up and grown in character.

“The church has come together ... and has a larger desire to be holy and love those people who are struggling.

“We have a real heart for people who struggle and always will. The church is not its lead pastor.”