NORTH OGDEN — For Kolby Moffitt, a new church in his home town means not having to travel so far for Sunday worship. For Joan Vargas, a new congregation means a new beginning.
And for Pastor Dane Wead, helping oversee the creation of the Newlife Northview Church is something he and his wife first envisioned six years ago.
"We pursued it a bit, but it never worked out," Wead recalls. "It didn't really work out until four months ago."
That's when a core group of Assembly of God members met with Wead and asked if his Logan congregation would help shepherd a new church in North Ogden under the denomination's Parent Affiliated Church program.
The PAC program is one manifestation of a new trend in church planting called multi-sites, which are satellite churches spawned from a healthy, established congregation. Under the PAC program, the parent church helps with financial and administrative duties until the new congregation gets on its feet.
The reasons for starting a new multi-site church vary, from aligning complementary demographics to creating a new style of worship for a younger generation of worshipper. In the case of Newlife Northview, it was a matter of geography. The residents either traveled south to Ogden or north to Brigham City or Logan for their spiritual fellowship.
Wead saw the need for a North Ogden church when he was working with his father, who was pastor over a church in nearby Ogden. When the younger Wead contemplated going out on his own, he and his wife considered starting a church in North Ogden but took a post as pastor in Logan.
"We lived there and felt it was good place for a church in a growing community," he said.
Six years later, a group of North Ogden worshippers approached him about helping them establish a church in North Ogden. Other pastors in the area agreed with the arrangement, and four months ago Wead began planting.
It started with a weekly Bible study, then the creation of an advisory board to find a pastor and a place to meet for regular weekly worship services. Wead then tested the small congregation's determination by patterning a program of prayer after II Chronicles 7:14. In July, they prayed for 14 days to determine whether God wanted them to pursue their plans for a North Ogden church.
"I was playing devil's advocate to discourage them from making a purely emotional decision, to look at it from very practical terms," Wead said. "What is your vision or purpose? They have to develop the church. They have to serve and carry out those things you take for granted. As a small church, everyone needs to pitch in."
To date, the enthusiasm hasn't waned. They meet in a dance studio owned by Moffatt's mother as they search for a more permanent locale to lease or build. Wead said jokingly that the mirrors in the studio double the size of the congregation, but not their tithes. But the congregation of about 80 adults and children makes up for it by volunteering for the music, children, youth and women's ministries, Bible study and community service programs.
In early September, the congregation unanimously elected Seth Koetitz as pastor, a 30-year-old married man who had a life-changing conversion at a church-sponsored men's retreat eight years ago in Colorado and has been pursuing the ministry ever since.
"I experienced this forgiveness that was incredible. I experienced joy and peace like I never had," Koetitz said of his conversion. "At that moment, I wanted to share this with others. I want to tell people about Jesus."
He will soon leave his construction work behind to take on pastoring full-time. He says establishing a new church can be overwhelming, but Wead is counseling him to keep it simple and only take on what he and his young congregation can handle.
The congregation is enthusiastic about their new pastor, despite his youth and inexperience.
"I've seen Seth grow from a kid and now a man," Vargas said at a recent picnic the congregation held in September to celebrate their newly founded church. "He has the love of God with him, and he's growing with God."
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