This account is based on actual events, but details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

As the interview drew to a close, the pastoral search committee asked if he had any questions. Full of enthusiasm and a genuine desire to please God, Mason Hale asked what they envisioned for the struggling fellowship. Without hesitation the chairman said, "We want to be the Saddleback of the South."

Mason welcomed that challenge. He and his wife packed up their four kids and moved to the fastest growing county in North Carolina to turn Cliffside Community Church, a congregation of 400, into a thriving mega-church.

It was a young congregation. Although this was his first senior pastorate, he was the oldest person on staff. Cliffside was on the verge of major growth; Mason could just feel it.

Things went well at first. Young families joined the church. In seven years, Cliffside grew from 400 to more than 1,000. They helped start another church: New Life Fellowship. Mason ...

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