Jump directly to the Content

Wizard of Odds

The Leadership Interview

This pastor led his congregation to do what others said couldn't be done. Now Jacksonville's Westside is revitalized, and his church is reenergized by Vaughn McLaughlin's message of economic empowerment.

If I were king of the foreeeeeeeesst."

Vaughn McLaughlin's impersonation of the Cowardly Lion is dead on. And when he suddenly breaks into it in the middle of conversation, it's unexpected. You don't know whether to laugh or sing along.

"Not queen! Not duke! Not prince!"

McLaughlin is king of all he surveys: a congregation of 3,000, a Christian academy of 650 students, a mini-mall of shops operated by the church and some of its members, an incubator that helps fledgling entrepreneurs start their own businesses. But it wasn't always this way.

Jacksonville, Florida's Westside was a thriving commercial hub until white flight sent residents scrambling for the outer suburbs. By the time McLaughlin's fledgling congregation located there in 1991, there was almost no trade. The Normandy Mall had closed, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

July/August
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
Learning to Love Our Neighbor’s Fears
Learning to Love Our Neighbor’s Fears
We aren’t all equally afraid of the same things. But Scripture’s wisdom can apply to all of us.
Editor's Pick
When Churches Put Love at the Center
When Churches Put Love at the Center
How "beloved community" helps us envision tangible ways to embody kingdom values.
close