Greg Surratt visited Sottile theater Thursday Nov. 1 to share his journey as an entrepreneur with local non-profit, the Harbor Entrepreneur Center.
Surratt is the founder of the second largest megachurch chain in South Carolina. His churches, called Seacoast, were founded in the early 90s and from the beginning always tried to break the norms of a traditional church.
Surratt and his founding team wanted to focus on inviting “unchurch people,” or those in the Charleston community who don’t typically go to church. As they made their phone calls, the team would ask each recipient if they went to church and depending on their answer, they would then ask them a series of questions about faith in the community.
Instead of blaming people for not going to church, they simply asked people why they thought the community wasn’t drawn to church.
As this early recruitment went on, Surratt found that Charleston did not have any theological objections to attending church, but more problems with the social issues within the church. For the most part, people felt like churches were too antiquated to relate to their modern lives, an idea Surratt has spent his entire career trying to reverse.
Now in 2018, Seacoast has 14 campuses with an average of 17,000 attendees a weekend and is worth 25 million dollars.
While the average Megachurch, or multisite church as Surratt refers to them, only has a ten percent success rate in opening new branches, Seacoast has a success rate of over 90 percent. Surratt attributes their success to an embrace of technology, giving young people a place in the church and an emphasis on giving back to the surrounding community.
Surratt is all about giving back to the community. He proudly boasts that he makes the least money yearly of any Megachurch founder in America. When asked about his philosophy on money he said, “use only what you need, for some of my friends that number is much higher than it is for me, but they’re still putting the rest of the money they don’t need out into the world for good.”
As someone who always had an issue with systems of authority, Greg Surratt found a way to create community strongholds in a new and innovative way. As a small town boy whose father was a strict Pastor, he never pictured owning a national faith based chain. With his background, he continues to spread a message of compassion across the country and give back to the communities who have given him so much.