Like You Never Left Home

By Jackson D. Kellum

Shades Mountain Baptist Church is a place where an individual can come and feel loved. With a clean and inviting environment, the church feels intentional from the moment you step through the doors. With roughly 2,500 on average for its Sunday worship spread out over two services, the body of believers somehow makes you feel included, as if it was just a tight-knit church of 200. There is always someone there who is ready to greet you with a smile and a friendly “Hello!” or “How are you doing this morning?” In each of the services I attended, people were baptized. The whole church witnessed and celebrated the public declaration of an individual’s faith in Christ and the way that God has worked in their life. The church has the ability to bring an operation of such a grand magnitude down to the individual and encourage them on a personal level.

Located less than a ten minutes’ drive from Samford University, Shades has a thriving college ministry. Its student ministries are a primary focus of the church. They range from elementary-school-aged to college-aged. With successful student programs, the church is able to show its intentionality in developing disciples from an early age. This is something you can see with just how intergenerational the church is. At Shades, the goal is about discipling and growing as a family and as one body of believers.

Photo of the interior of Shades Mountain Baptist Church from Myrick Gurosky + Associates

Reaching the Lost

Shades operates from the watchword “Live Sent.” This means that faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ is not meant to be coveted but to be spread among the nations. Members should live in such a way that shows that have been sent by Jesus to make disciples of all nations. The church is focused on missions, evangelism, and spreading the Gospel. In one service, Pastor George Wright prayed over a team that was being sent on a mission trip and really emphasized how this was the heart of the church.

The service itself was structured like a standard Sunday morning contemporary praise & worship service with music, baptism, prayer, preaching, and finally more music to close out the service. However, the content of each part of the service was directed towards the message of reaching the lost. The song choice, including trending tracks from Phil Wickham and Hillsong Worship, told of the faithfulness of God even when we could not see it, and the story of Jesus and his love for us displayed on the cross. It was almost as if the time of singing was used to show the need for Jesus as savior, then baptism was showing what it looks like to believe in Jesus as savior, and finally the message that invites you to ask the question of whether or not Jesus actually is your savior. The service was structured in a way that effectively reached the lost with words that were meant to fall on their ears.

Worship at Shades is a classic example of what Edward Phillips and others have identified as the “Revival Worship” character type (Phillips 2020). While there is not an actual altar call as my classmates have reported occurring at Sardis Missionary Baptist Church or King’s Way Church. The goal of the service was clearly bringing people to know Jesus Christ and spreading the Good News through the use of technologically efficient and emotionally effective means. Shades operates with excellence, and it is through this excellence that the conversion that Phillips talks about is achieved.


Shades Mountain Baptist Church is a church that cares deeply about being the church: a unified body of believers. It strives to encourage individuals in their faith, walk with them through the ebbs and flows of life, and provide meaningful encounters with God through powerful worship and biblically faithful preaching. Shades is focused on growing the body of Christ through its evangelistic efforts and empowers its community to “Live Sent.”

Shades Mountain Baptist Church
2017 Columbiana Rd, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216
Services Observed:
9:00am Sunday Morning Service, March 20, 2023 and March 27, 2023
Video Archives: Shades Mountain Baptist Church. YouTube.
Church established: 1911
Current worship center opened: 1989


Phillips, L. Edward. 2020. The Purpose, Pattern, & Character of Worship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Jackson Kellum ‘23 majored in Christian Ministry and was a student in Christian Worship: History & Theology in Samford University’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies in spring 2023.

Published April 29, 2023

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