Skyrocketing Transformation: Partnership, Risk Yield Spiritual Harvest in Washington State
By Adrian Powell
One of the most difficult tasks for any church leader is to attempt to revitalize a fellowship that is in decline. For some churches it is more a matter of dividing the assets and moving on but, on occasion, there are opportunities to participate in a brand-new way of doing ministry.
Jim Snyder, lead pastor at Blue Mountain Church in Walla Walla, Washington, shared that, as a member of the Pacific Northwest Association of the Church of God (PNA), church growth and thinking outside the box was a part of his personal DNA.
“I later had a conversation with a man, Mike Wallace, in our congregation, who used to pastor the Prescott Community Church, an independent congregation twenty miles north of Walla Walla,” he explains. “That church had closed a couple of years before, but they retained the property and two buildings. The remaining church leadership had asked Mike if he would consider coming back to help them re-launch the church. I offered our church’s support to him in this endeavor. My initial thought was that this would be the way we could use our resources and manpower to help a small community that now had no church presence.”
Rather than planning a restart, they decided to support a new church plant in Prescott. They decided to give the plant a new name, staff, and supportive relationships to allow it to thrive with a symbiotic relationship with another congregation that would provide structure and a foundation for solid growth.
They decided to have one church in two locations; as such, they would be able to share staff, names, and logos, along with the same church board for oversight. With a $20,000 grant from PNA’s Evergreen Multiplication Fund, proceeds from a church that had closed were able to provide additional support to the new work.
They agreed on the name Skyrocket Church to refer to the Prescott area being known for wheat farming on the steep hills in the area that are referred to as skyrockets, and J. D. Croft was designated the lead pastor for the work.
Prescott has population of 320 so, when taking that into consideration, the attendance of the new plant being around 50 plus is outstanding! The launch took place on September 12, 2021, and they are seeing more participation from locals in worship, children’s, and youth ministries.
They continue to think “outside the box” by taking note of the area not having any coffee shops available in town, and so they provided a “coffee café” with free Wi-Fi service several days a week.
Blue Mountain Church has continued to thrive and have effective ministry to the area. With that success, the church is planning on opening another location in 2023, and Pastor Jim doesn’t see why other churches cannot duplicate their success.
“This was a town that was hungry for a church, they just didn’t remember that they needed one,” he explains. “As soon as we had the keys, we immediately opened the building to host groups and events. We did hold several ‘taste and see’ events, like a summer sports camp, and open swim night at the local pool. We saw an opportunity that caught our imaginations and asked, ‘Why not give this a try?’ It could make all the difference in the lives of the people in this small town. And if it doesn’t work, we will learn from our experience.”
“Remarkably,” he notes, “none of the members of the previous church currently attend Skyrocket Church. Most are either new to church or have been away from any church for years.”
Jim concludes, “If Blue Mountain Church, which will be celebrating our 125th birthday this year, can do this, a lot of churches can do this!”
Perhaps your church can skyrocket by effecting change in your area if you are willing to make the attempt.
Adrian Powell is an associate editor with Church of God Ministries and serves as senior pastor of Faith Community Church of God in Grove City, Ohio. He has been published in numerous periodicals, newspapers, and blogs, and has authored two books—The Jubilee Harvest and Resident Aliens: A Living Faith in a Hostile World, available at Amazon.com.
Feature (top) photo: The building where Skyrocket Church meets may appear modest in style, but the Holy Spirit surely is on the move inside those walls!