Faith-based music series offers alternative space to worship

A local gospel-music series is growing in popularity. Worship Unplugged, a faith-based event that combines live performances, prayer and worship, announced it will increase its performances from monthly to bi-weekly performances.

Worship Unplugged founder and Grammy-award-winning songwriter Keith “K.J.” Scriven Jr. says that he created the series to bring worship to the community without creating a “churchy” atmosphere.

One performance will be at the beginning of each month at Movement School Southwest in Charlotte, and the second performance will be at the end of each month at The Powerhouse, a mixed-use property, in Rock Hill.

Worship Unplugged is free to the community with food for purchase at the beginning of each event.

Where it all began

Scriven introduced the idea to establish a worship night at a ministry team retreat in 2020 but also knew he didn’t want it to be at a traditional church.

Worship Unplugged officially launched in July 2021 at Knowledge Perk Coffee Company with about 130 people in attendance and later moved to the Movement School to accommodate a growing crowd.

To Scriven, the church is not necessarily a building as much as it is a community of people, which he wants to expand on. He also told QCity Metro he isn’t attempting to replace church but wants to “complement” it.

Photo courtesy of K.J. Scriven

“This is not a scenario where I’m like, ‘see, you churches don’t get it. You’re doing it wrong. Let me show you how to do it,’” Scriven said.

“It’s not a competition. I actually want it to be a scenario where people who [are] connected to or are members of different churches in different denominations and different backgrounds could come together,” he said.

Currently, Scriven said, more than 250 people attend regularly. 

Unashamed to worship

Rhema Hedgpeth has been attending Worship Unplugged since 2022 and goes regularly. 

Hedgpeth says she returns because she enjoys the intimate atmosphere that makes her feel comfortable during worship. 

Rhema Hedgpeth at Worship Unplugged. Photo courtesy of Rhema Hedgpeth

“I always feel free to take whatever posture I need, whether it’s just standing there taking it in, having my hands raised high, or being down on my knees closing everything out. I can cry, sing, even [while] not sounding the best, and just speak to God and not feel awkward,” she said. 

“In this space, it’s intimate, open, and warm. K.J. and his team do a great job of cultivating moments for us to not only physically worship but to think on the goodness of God and welcome him into our hearts,” Hedgpeth told QCity Metro. 

Hedgpeth says going to Worship Unplugged has helped her cultivate new relationships with other Christians who strengthen and encourage her. 

Janice Churnside, another attendee, went to her first Worship Unplugged at the beginning of this year. 

Churnside told QCity Metro she enjoys the “freedom” of being able to worship as well as the diversity of people and the young crowd. 

The impact has been inspiring

Scriven said he plans to continue Worship Unplugged because of the impact he’s seen it have on attendees. He told QCity Metro that on more than once occassion, people have been in tears, moved by the event. 

“But also, I’d watch certain people, I watch all type of stuff happening [during the event] where people that were struggling with finding organic community or people that came in not knowing each other, and now hang out all the time.”

Scriven also described a scenario where a lady, who attends Worship Unplugged, came up to him in the gym and told him that someone on his team prayed for her relationship with her parents to be restored and, less than a month later, they reconciled. 

Photo courtesy of K.J. Scriven

Another time, Scriven said one of the food vendors at the event had been experiencing financial hardship. A customer during at Worship Unplugged bought a $10 meal from the vendor and left a $3,000 tip.

“You never see anyone looking around, judging anyone, or feeling out of place, because everyone belongs there, and KJ does a great job of curating that,” Hedgpeth said. 

“I can say that at worship unplugged, the love and community extends beyond the worship service itself. Afterwards, KJ and all of the singers and musicians take their time to talk with the people who are there and continue to love and pour [into] them.”

The next Worship Unplugged in Charlotte will be on June 11, and on June 23 in Rock Hill.

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