The Church Plant: Central Valley Church of Christ takes root in Madison
WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE L. ROBERTSON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Farmers plant cotton, corn, pumpkins and other crops. But planting churches? Yes, there is such a thing.
Jason Owen, minister to the year-old Central Valley Church of Christ on Madison Boulevard, explained that a few years ago the leadership at Central Church of Christ in Athens envisioned establishing a new church for the growing Madison/East Limestone area.
“They thought it would be great to be able to plant a new congregation in that area – to meet the needs of that community and to help people grow and know more about Jesus,” said Owen.
The leadership hired Owen to serve as minister and lead church-planter.
How to plant a church
“The very first step in that process was prayer,” Owen said. “We have always valued prayer so highly in this church. We know God’s vision is bigger than ours, and so we started praying immediately.”
Owen and the leadership at the church in Athens organized volunteer groups to pray over the new church. A small cluster of 20-25 individuals from the Athens church committed to attending the new congregation for three, six, nine or 12 months.
The new church was called “Church Plant” at first, and the members didn’t have a place to meet – which got discouraging after a long, hard scramble for suitable properties. But prayers were going to be answered.
“One day I just got on my computer in my office and saw a listing for a commercial property that had already been a church. It was such a beautiful thing, and the timing was perfect,” Owen said. “They needed to be out in December, and we were really looking to get access to a church building in January. So the timing of it was just absolutely perfect. It was God working.”
“Changing lives by the power of Christ”
Changing lives by the power of Christ is the mission statement the new church has adopted. It’s a statement that “really says everything about why we are here,” explained Owen.
“We’re growing as a family – a very authentic family – people that love and care about each other. More than ritual, more than tradition, church is about authentic relationships with God, and it’s about authentic relationships with each other.”
Serving the community
Providence seemed to have a hand in Garrett Lloyd and fiancée Mallory’s search for a church home. Lloyd did a lot of visiting and communicating back and forth with his wife-to-be, who lived in Troy at the time.
Lloyd admitted the search was frustrating. “We weren’t quite finding what we thought, in our minds, was the right place to be.”
Then they heard about Central Valley, which was only a short distance from Lloyd’s apartment. He went over to help paint the new building, which would house the services for the church family.
“I came over, and everyone was super good to me that night. I had some really awesome, meaningful conversations with people and left that place just feeling really good about the possibility of CV being a place where we landed,” he said.
Lloyd now heads up Community Outreach, with the help of his bride of one year. “Community Outreach is anything we can do as a church in the community to serve, to tell people about Central Valley and what we’re about, to spread the gospel and to be a light to people in any way, really,” Lloyd said. “The basics of it is being out in the community.”
One of the outreach projects is Adopt-a-Mile on County Line Road. “I’m in conservation, so the whole ‘keeping our environment clean’ theme resonated with me,” said Lloyd. “It’s a good opportunity for us to get out on the street and actually do something for our community.”
In addition, members of Central Valley volunteered to help the City of Madison with its Independence Day celebration at Dublin Park. Also in July, the church family teamed up to offer their first Vacation Bible School to the Madison community. “It really has been awesome to see how many people from our own congregation have stepped up, as small as we are. Throwing a VBS is not a small task,” Lloyd said. “But that’s the story of Central Valley. It’s people just stepping up, left and right, taking on responsibility. I think that’s one of our biggest offerings we have to people. If you want to get involved somewhere, what a unique opportunity we have here. If you decide to jump in, with both feet in, we’ve got stuff for you to do.”
Come join us!
Emily and Dan Spiceland and their 18-year-old twin daughters moved to Madison from Indianapolis because of Dan’s promotion at Raytheon. Dan searched the Internet for a church home and then talked with Owen at length on the phone about Central Valley’s history, culture and beliefs.
“The people were very welcoming, and the first Sunday there, a group of people went out to lunch together. We were invited to go,” said Emily. She said they felt Central Valley provided them with a place to get involved. “It just felt right. It’s like family. It’s very open and non-judgmental. Just come as you are. It’s a very accepting place.”
For more information about growing with Central Valley, visit www.cvcfamily.org.