The Story of a Church Plant
By Jeff Atherton
To my co-laborers in Christ in the RCA: I wanted to share the story of Pipeline Church to encourage and inspire you. When I look back at how God has provided for us and led us—from a “toe in the water” start in our backyard with 12 people on Mother’s Day in 2015 to our current place of worshiping weekly with as many as 380 adults and more than 100 children—I am in awe of our mighty God.
Feeling the call of God to continue in the direction he had given us in planting the church, we invested in the equipment and programming to begin a livestream broadcast of our services. We worked diligently to make sure that we were as prepared as possible, launching a livestream of the preaching portion of the service just before Easter Sunday.
From the very beginning, this turned out to be a huge opportunity to introduce people to the church and to Christ himself. We have a steady number of about 250 people who attend or view our services online weekly! This ranges from people who are interested in seeing what we’re all about to people looking for hope who eventually accept Christ while sitting in front of the computer. Other people watch from home because they are unable to attend on a Sunday due to small illness, long-term battles with disease, or age. We truly feel like God is taking the little bit that we have to offer and multiplying it for his glory and his purposes!
At the same time, the leadership team and I also felt God leading us to plant a congregation, specifically an “internal church plant.” The idea took us a while to sort out, but we landed on launching a morning congregation. Up to this point, we had purposefully chosen to meet Sunday evenings only and believed that this was God’s leading for us to reach the unchurched in our community. Meeting in the evening had allowed us to stay focused on reaching unchurched people, rather than growing because of people transferring from other local churches, but now God was calling us to start a morning service.
After a few months of prayer, preparation, and vision casting, we launched our first Sunday morning worship experience with overwhelming response. Since we started holding both morning and evening services, we have about doubled our weekly attendance, both adults and children. We are so excited to hear many of the newly attending families share stories of their kids coming and getting them ready and out the door for church. God is good and faithful to fulfill the dreams he has given!
Don’t get me wrong; there have been plenty of bumps and bruises and losses and pain in the midst of all of this. We definitely understand and champion the truth that church planting is not for the faint of heart or the weak of faith. In the midst of all of this, however, this road remains a joy and an honor and a privilege. What an incredible opportunity to see well over 200 people respond to God’s call through salvation in our first three years!
I can’t give God enough glory for his provision. I hope you, too, are encouraged by his faithfulness.
Jeff Atherton is pastor of Pipeline Church (RCA) in Visalia, California. This article originally appeared on the Far West Region’s blog. You can read it in its entirety at www.rcawest.org.