A year ago, Trinity Church was planted in Spokane Valley. In gardening terms, it was a “cutting” from the parent plant of Faith Bible Church, carefully set into well-prepared soil.
It wasn’t easy to send dearly loved brothers and sisters into a new work in another place. But God is generously honoring the commitment to shine the Gospel into the Valley, bringing in worshipers for His glory. As Psalm 126:5 says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”!
In the year since Trinity launched, God has blessed both churches by bringing more people in, hungry for the hope found in Christ.
Trinity has added more than 30 new members to those who were sent, bringing their member total to 100. Also, 66 new members have joined Faith, essentially filling up the number sent out.
Attendance at Trinity has been 130 to 150 on Sundays, peaking at 171 on Christmas morning. Pastor Paul Funchess’ work teaching Bible and theology classes at Moody has allowed him to connect college students into Trinity. Many families are growing.
Even more importantly, God’s family is growing. As His people share Jesus with their neighbors, some are being saved. Trinity celebrated its first two baptisms on New Year’s Day, two women who were unchurched before. More baptisms are planned for when the church can procure a portable baptistry again.
God is not only filling His church up in numbers but in key leadership roles. After studying through the book of Titus and its instructions on church structure and leadership, Trinity is going through the process of installing lay elders and deacons to share that work with Paul and planting elder Jeremy Kuhn.
Dan Ferguson was affirmed as a lay elder at a member meeting last Sunday. Seth Rima, Kevin Voss, and Jon Leo were appointed as deacons. These formalized leadership teams will begin to meet more regularly to shepherd and serve the growing flock.
Also exciting for Trinity is the promise of a more permanent meeting place.
Those who are familiar with Faith’s history will especially appreciate the “wagon train” year Trinity has had, meeting in temporary event venues and hauling equipment in every week. They’ve had accommodating hosts at Spokane Valley Event Center and at Centerplace Regional Event Center, but they have been searching for the right home.
Paul’s office has been in Sullivan Valley Commons, a shared workspace that also offers rooms the church can use for counseling sessions, meetings, classes and other small gatherings. Now, after a long lookout, the church is leasing and customizing an 8,000-square-foot space on an upper floor in the same building.
The church has signed a six-year lease at a rate that Paul calls a “sweet deal” well below market value. They will renovate the space to fit their needs, with room for growth and their own spaces for classes and counseling.
Paul expects the church to be able to move there in April. “We will no longer have to tear down and set up every week.”
The terms of the lease don’t allow installation of a permanent stage for the sanctuary. That means Trinity may end up using the portable front portion of Faith’s old auditorium stage, which functioned as Faith’s only stage during the renovation last fall.
“We are excited about being able to settle down a bit,” Paul says.
As Trinity’s numbers grow, the people are growing too. With discipleship groups meeting weekly and a small congregation where it’s hard to get lost in the crowd, relationships are deepening.
Seth and Laura Rima helped plant Trinity, and Laura gave birth to their fifth child a few months later. They are thankful for their new church family.
"We are so grateful for the blessings that Faith and now Trinity have been to our family – it’s hard to put into words!”
“We have been so blessed by people, some who we don’t know well, showing us love and taking care of us in this season of transition,” Laura said. “I am very thankful to know that we have accountability and support no matter what may happen. We have been taught and trained in biblical wisdom and are held accountable to be living that way.”
Seth added, “It’s a privilege to be part of Trinity at this stage of its life and know that we as a body are committing the plans that we make to the Lord and allowing Him to lead where He will. We are so grateful for the blessings that Faith and now Trinity have been to our family – it’s hard to put into words!”
One of the main purposes Faith had in planting a church in the Valley was more effectively to reach people in that area for Christ. With a church that is close to home, inviting neighbors and serving them is much easier and more natural. One-on-one connections are how most outreach at Trinity has been accomplished so far.
Over the summer, members of Trinity held a couple successful “Mini Vacation Bible Schools” despite their lack of midweek meeting space. They decided to meet at a local park every morning. They had games, singing, devotionals and a whole lot of fun with the kids.
Holding VBS in the park provided simple evangelism opportunities. Seeing all the fun going on drew other children and their parents to the group, and the Gospel was shared with families that may not otherwise have heard it.
The first year for Trinity has been focused on establishing healthy roots, regular meetings, and structure from which it will be able to grow well. For their second year, the church’s theme will be “Looking to Jesus” as it branches out.
Paul says in 2023 they will “look to bring on our first missionaries, establish training opportunities for both men and women outside of the regular Sunday morning offerings, and look to strengthen our discipling groups and their effectiveness in caring for the body.”
Those are plans in which Faith can heartily join in prayer and partnership, remembering that it is “God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one” (1 Corinthians 3:7-8).
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