All of Life Church feels like an unlikely church plant. I never saw myself leading a church or teaching God’s Word publicly. In part because I’m a high school dropout and I spent a decade dealing and using drugs. I grew up in the church but believed it was nonsense. In 2004 the Holy Spirit awakened me to a new reality: Jesus is Lord, and His Church is beautiful…and serious.
After this encounter with Christ, my values and vision for life shifted. A friend recommended a local church, and I began serving where I could. One thing led to another, and a few years later I joined a church plant serving and overseeing community groups. Over time I began to sense the need for theological education. This led me to join a two-year pastoral residency at a fellow Acts 29 church, Soma Communities in Spokane, WA. It was during this residency that I sensed the distinct call to plant a church near my hometown of Coeur d’Alene (Core-da-lane), Idaho. So, I still don’t have much formal education, but I’ve been with Jesus, and He’s equipped me.
Located in between Coeur d’Alene, ID, and Spokane, WA, Post Falls, ID is a semi-rural town of 32,000. Here, people prize independence, conservative values, and crave outdoor recreation due to abundant land, mountains, lakes, and rivers. The news is out on the stunning beauty of our area. As a result, our population is booming (#11 in the nation) and quickly changing our physical and cultural landscapes. We also have troubling racist roots as the Aryan Nations were founded nearby. They’ve since moved out of the area, but their stench lingers.
All of Life Church meets in a rented Seventh-Day Adventist building adjacent to my family’s neighborhood. We began in September of 2015 with twelve adults and twelve kids. Now, we average sixty-five people on a Sunday and have around eighty who call our church home. Approximately fifty people belong to Missional Communities, which signals great traction.
I am currently the sole elder and am accountable to two “outside elders” who lead their own Acts 29 churches here in the northwest. The majority of people who’ve joined our church are new to the area. Most are not far along in their understanding of the gospel’s implications and benefits. So this unfamiliarity with the gospel message and church frame our context inside and outside of our church.
As we grow, I continue to find the past experiences people have with the gospel and church do not feel like good news to them. Church has often felt like a burden to bulging schedules, expectations of moral perfection, and the resulting guilt for not doing or being more. With us, they’re finding church to be a community of weak people on the pathway to real freedom and renewal.
We repeatedly try to demonstrate how the gospel of Christ is good news for all of life. We’re finding success, and our work is bearing good fruit. We’ve seen conversions and baptisms, and the resounding theme is “The gospel really is good news!” From that declaration, we’ve multiplied missional communities and smaller discipleship groups. We’ve given thousands of dollars to our local food bank to help them build an addition to their building. This became seed money and inspiration for a state grant that will see their addition through. We contribute funds each month to church planters in London, the Middle East, and Oregon. We also support local and global missionaries. Our people are becoming more and more generous because they’re experiencing how generous Jesus has been to them.
I hope to begin uncovering the privilege we enjoy here as “majority-culture” so we can actively begin using it for the good of our fellow minority-culture image-bearers. I pray our region will no longer be identified as a bastion of racism, but as a place of flourishing and safety for all who wish to live here.
As you think of All of Life, we would welcome your prayers for the following:
- We need mature, stable, theologically-aligned men who desire to become elders. I’ve intentionally moved slow on this, yet the burden I feel is growing.
- We need stable, mature people who are so gripped by the gospel that it moves them to missionary lifestyles.
- We would love to see our church be a part of catalyzing racial healing in our region.
- Every member of our core team has chosen one person who they are in pursuit of this year. They are praying, serving, and inviting these people into their lives with the intent of sharing Christ in word and deed. Would you join them in praying?
Each year, Acts 29 US West has the joy of funding a number of church plants. All of Life Church is one of 17 church plants we’re funding in 2017. You can read about more of these church plants on our blog!