September 5, 2018

Keeping a Congregation Alive

Guyla Armstrong

Pastor Dave A. Benson gathered the other leaders of Family Life Church in Newberg, Oregon, and asked them to dream about a church in nearby Carlton.

Benson, 52, has pastored Family Life Church for 14 years and seen steady growth take place. With three services on Sundays and an average attendance of over 500, space had maxed out in the facility in Newberg, home to 23,300 people.

In the fall of 2017, the Oregon Ministry Network approached Family Life Church about adopting Carlton Assembly of God, a small church about 15 minutes west of Newberg, as a parent-affiliated church (PAC). Attendance had declined in the town of 2,100 and the congregation could no longer afford to pay a full-time pastor.

Benson felt stepping in to adopt the church out would be the right move for FLC.

“What we bring to the table is really what they’ve been praying for years and years in Carlton: Lord do something special in our community,” says Benson, whose parents served in Assemblies of God ministry over 50 years. “This is another step where we become a sacrificial church. Whatever we invest in Carlton, I know God is going to take it and use it and just make something greater.”

After exploring the church property and facilities, it became obvious the building could not be salvaged. The church, although in an excellent location, closed its doors at the end of 2017. With the help of a capital campaign and matching funds from the Oregon Ministry Network and Church Multiplication Network, plans are underway for a new multipurpose facility that will become Family Life Center Carlton, a video venue with a campus pastor. The new structure should be completed by next summer.

A key component of a multisite church is the campus pastor. Onetime pastors Clint and Kim Reeves moved to Carlton to be with family and seek the Lord for direction. They found other jobs and settled in and waited for almost a year. When Reeves saw a video on Facebook about FLC’s planned work in Carlton, he reached out to Benson. They began meeting regularly for coffee, and soon Reeves became associate pastor at FLC Newberg, groomed to become campus pastor at Carlton when it is launched.

“FLCC will be an extension of FLC with the same DNA, culture, and vision,” Reeves says. “We are made up of real people walking out this faith journey together. We don’t get everything right all the time, but we are committed to staying the course together and focusing on Jesus.”
This article is republished with permission from AG News. The author, Guyla Armstrong has worked for Assemblies of God World Missions since 2008 and attends Connect Church, an AG church in Springfield, Missouri. She is a freelance writer and author of a wedding-planning guide. She has worked over 30 years in the wedding and events industry, and has edited and published a wedding magazine.

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