In 2008, Ryan and Selina May (along with their 7-week-old son) moved from Charleston, South Carolina to Chattanooga, Tennessee to start The Net. What prompted this move was a burden dating back to the late-90’s when Ryan was working as a training supervisor in the steel industry. “I’d travel the country and spend months at a time with guys who knew nothing about God and their lives showed it,” Ryan explains. “Sometimes I’d get the privilege of introducing these guys to Christ and would then get busy trying to find a church they’d feel comfortable attending as they worked through their issues… I found that to be a very difficult task. Ever since that time, it’s been my desire to create a place that anyone could come to and explore God at their own pace.” With that vision, Ryan began working at the church he and Selina were attending in South Carolina (Seacoast Church) – a place a lot like what he hoped they’d one day create. When the opportunity came available to move, they, along with a handful of friends started The Net!
Initially, to spark interest, they rented a billboard outside Rave Motion Pictures (where they eventually would meet) that said, “Tell us what you REALLY think: IfYouHateChurch.com”. The ad directed people to a survey where they could express their true feelings about church. Over 700 people took the survey and were invited to visit on January 18, 2009 at The Net’s first service.
When the day arrived, 234 people came through the doors. Ever since, The Net’s weekend gatherings have been growing steadily offering a well-prepared, high-quality creative experience for every age.
In the end though, the goal has never been about filling a room or providing an enjoyable experience–though we hope those things happen. The goal has always been to move people toward Jesus! And watch, as in return, He changes them into someone completely new!