Clueless – Velocity Cleveland’s 10th Anniversary

Mar 20, 2019

Clueless. That’s the word I would choose to define the beginning of my church-planting journey. I was completely and totally clueless. You see, I wasn’t a follower of Jesus growing up. I wasn’t interested in understanding who Jesus was or how to follow him, I just wanted to play sports and have a good time. But when I was 20 years old I gave my life to Christ because a girl in my Geology class invited me to play volleyball at her church. I met some really great people at that congregation and ended up giving my life to Christ.

I transferred from the University of Akron to a Christian college in Kentucky, and when I did, I felt like I invaded another planet. You see, the majority of the students on this campus grew up in the church world and used words and phrases that made no sense to me. I didn’t know what a “D-Group” was. I never heard of Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, or Amy Grant. I felt like I had landed in some parallel universe that had it’s own language and subculture. In fact, not too long after I was on campus, I asked a guy in my dorm what his major was. He responded by saying, “I’m a youth ministry major.” I had no clue what that was, so I asked, ”What does a youth ministry major do?” He said, “Well, they work at a church with students and create programs for young people.” With a puzzled look on my face I said, “That’s a real thing? People actually pay you to do that?”

The funny thing is, even though I graduated from that college with a degree in ministry, I never forgot how it felt to be totally confused about God. I always remembered the embarrassment I felt when people used religious words I didn’t understand or talked about Bible stories I’d never heard. Every one of those situations made me feel like I still didn’t understand what following Jesus was all about.

I ended up spending the next 15 years of my life trying as hard as I could to reach people who felt as lost as I did. Then in April of 2007 some people that I had never met called me on the phone and asked me if I would be willing to start a church in Cleveland, Ohio. Needless to say, I felt the very same way that I did when I was 20 years old. I had no idea what a church plant was. I thought, “Why would someone start a church? I mean, there are churches all over the world…do we really need another one?”

Well, I found out that we do need more….a lot more. So I agreed to talk to a church-planting organization called Stadia. I didn’t know what Stadia really was, but when I met Tom Jones, I was completely mesmerized. He spoke about starting someone’s “home church.” A church that could really help people understand the truth about God’s love. A place where the broken could be honest, where the addicted could find hope, where racial lines could be blurred, and marriages could be restored. The more he talked, the more I started to think that maybe I could start a church. I mean, after all, he was talking about creating a place for people who felt the very same way that I did.

So in October of 2008, Vanessa (my wife) and I decided to take the biggest step of faith that we have ever taken. We packed up our four year old daughter and two year old son, and wemmoved to Cleveland, Ohio with the idea of starting a church for people who feel really far from God. The problem was….I didn’t know how to do that. Sure I knew how to write sermons, plan events, share the gospel, but how do you start a church? I mean, if you’re going to start a church you should probably have a building, some Bibles, a few key volunteers, a sound system, and most importantly people. I didn’t have any of that.

Well the good news is, even though I had no idea what to do, the Stadia team was there every step of the way. When I needed to learn how to fundraise, Tom Jones helped me. When I didn’t know how to write or file corporate documents, Doug Foltz wrote and filed all the paperwork. Every time I found myself in a situation where I was floundering in my own confusion, Stadia was there to walk with me every step of the way.

After 10 years, I can honestly say that church planting makes more sense than it ever has. We’ve been so blessed to see hundreds of people give their life to Christ and get baptized. We’ve sent three of the young people from Velocity to seminaries and they’re preparing to enter full time ministry. We’ve gotten very involved with our city and local school district. We’ve been able to make significant impacts that we never thought possible. All of those events have taken place because someone challenged us to start a church, but we couldn’t have done it without Stadia.

If someone were to ask me, “What are you most thankful for after 10 years of church planting?” My answer would be, “I’m thankful that Vanessa and I love each other more than we ever have. I’m grateful that my kids understand how much God loves them. I’m very thankful for God’s blessing at Velocity Church, but I’m also extremely grateful for the role that Stadia has played in our church planting journey.”

Scott is the Lead Pastor at Velocity Church. He is also the Founder and Director of Love Cleveland, a non-profit organization that helps meet the needs of at-risk children in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of three books: My New Church, Children Matter, and The Church Next Door.

Before starting Velocity, Scott was a youth minister for 13 years. He spent 7 years at a super cool church in Tollesboro, Kentucky (yep, Tollesboro. That’s right next to Ribolt and Rectorville). He spent another 6 years at High Point Christian Church in Clinton, Ohio.

Scott has been married for 16 years to his wife, Vanessa, and they have two amazing kids. They love spending time playing kickball with all of the neighborhood kids and watching movies. In his free time, Scott enjoys training for triathlons, riding mountain bikes, and spending time with his family.

Scott Pugh

Lead Pastor, Velocity Church