Creating a church from scratch is a difficult task.
Spokane Baptist Church Senior Pastor Tom Asbury knows this from experience. During Asbury’s 38 years in ministry he has planted three churches and helped start a fourth.
His current church plant, Spokane Baptist, began with eight people in the daylight basement of his Peone Prairie home.
“We started with nothing,” Asbury said. “You have to go out and find people, its hard work but God has blessed us enormously.”
In the fall of 2005, a small group began meeting for a weekly bible study with the intention of planting a Baptist church.
“It’s a challenge getting a core group of people together that work well together,” Asbury said. “And have a vision for a Baptist church in the area.”
After meeting for a couple of months, the group began traditional church service every Sunday morning in Asbury’s home. Charter member Angela Pizelo started attending the church in 2006, after being invited by friends a few months after it began.
“It was like family,” Pizelo said.
After services, the group shared a potluck meal – a practice that continues today after every Sunday service.
Through the church’s outreach efforts, the congregation grew quickly and within a year the church needed more space.
The church leased and renovated a 2,300-square-foot space in the middle of a strip mall on East Trent Avenue.
After five years, the church grew to more than 60 attendees and needed to move again, and they leased the former Giorgio’s Gym location on East First Avenue in 2011. The roughly 10,000-square-foot space was transformed from a gym into a sanctuary.
Within two years the church grew to 100 regular attendees, prompting Spokane Baptist to once again seek a new facility.
From its humble beginnings in Asbury’s basement, Spokane Baptist is finally in a building intended to be used for worship. They purchased the former Cornerstone Pentecostal church building on East Broadway Avenue for an estimated $500,000 in November. Following the building’s renovation, Spokane Baptist held its first service at the new location on Dec. 1.
“God has been at work since the beginning answering prayer,” Pizelo said. “I’ve seen a lot of people being saved.”
Asbury believes the church’s soul-winning outreach ministry is the reason for its continued growth.
“The motto in our church is every member is a minister,” Asbury said about what he calls the “church’s unique niche.”
“We encourage all our people to get involved in ministry, in serving and reaching other people,” he said.
On the east wall of the church’s conference room is a large map of Spokane Valley divided into sections. Church members are strategically sent out into the Valley three times a week to different sections with the mission of knocking on doors to introduce others to the church and the Gospel message.
“It’s amazing when you start talking to people how few have heard a simple version of the Bible’s message and what the point of Jesus Christ was,” said Joshua Tucker, the church’s associate pastor. “We’re trying to give everyone a chance to hear a clear version of it.”
Tucker joined the church one month after it started in Asbury’s home. Through Asbury’s mentoring, Tucker was ordained in 2010.
Not seeking or relying on outside support, the church has covered the cost of each move solely on the generosity of its members.
“I would share the vision of what was available, and, if we were able to come up with money, we would buy it,” Asbury said. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t.”
Besides coming up with a down payment for the new building, the church is planning to donate $25,000 toward missions and give more than $2,000 to families in need.
“We don’t pass an offering plate like most churches,” Tucker said. “We are low key about the giving thing.”
Looking toward to the future, Asbury said the church is “structured for growth” and anticipates outgrowing the current facility in two to five years.
“As we continue to do the things we do, it just promotes growth,” Asbury said. “So the sky’s the limit. We don’t know where it will end up.”
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