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My Church Planting Story

By Josiah Espinoza | September 21st, 2021

“The time had come for me to step out in faith to engage in the wonderful but weighty task of church planting.”

My name is Pastor Josiah Espinoza. I am the Pastor of Sovereign Trinity Church, a young and growing church plant in Victorville, CA with the vision to ultimately plant in Oak Hills/Hesperia, CA. Several years ago the Lord placed this deep desire in my heart to plant a church. My wife and I prayed into this desire for over 5 years, beginning in October of 2015. 5 years later, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, the calling to plant became even more clear. The time had come for me to step out in faith to engage in the wonderful but weighty task of church planting.

In January of 2018 I was attending classes at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. I was attending an Evangelism course that was really stirring my heart for street evangelism and door to door preaching. One faithful day, several things ended up happening that would change the course of my life. A church planting catalyst had come into class that day to talk about church planting in Tennessee. It was extremely tempting but I decided not to take more information from him. It did however, revitalize the desire to church plant some day. As I headed to my car, a pastor from a church that I had attended in California prior to moving to Kentucky calls me. He asks if I wanted to come back home to California to be the worship pastor for their church. I was extremely excited and after talking to my wife, we agreed that we would come back on the condition that we would eventually be sent out to plant a church. After communicating this to the pastor, he agreed and 6 months later, on June of 2018, we were back home in the city of Victorville, CA.

I was so excited about being back home. I was ready to jump into ministry, to start home studies and to start making connections for possible church planting. However, after the excitement wore off, bills started piling on, rent was due, debt had to be paid and the $1,400 dollars a month I was receiving from my church was not going to be enough. I needed to find employment to be able to provide for my family and to be able to keep serving the people of God. By the end of July 2018, I was hired by Azusa Pacific University, my alma mater. My monthly pay from my church dropped to $500 a month but overall my family was going to be fine because of my new job. I was discouraged that I couldn’t spend 40-60 hours a week on the church campus anymore but what I didn’t know was that God in his divine providence was preparing me for a future in church planting that would set me up for success and continual provision.

I was discouraged that I couldn’t spend 40 hours a week on the church campus anymore but what I didn’t know was that God in his divine providence was preparing me for a future in church planting that would set me up for success and continual provision.

Throughout my time of serving at this church, I learned how to rely on the Lord in the midst of my bi-vocational ministry. I had to learn how to lean into the Lord for strength and perseverance in ways that full-time ministry would not have allowed me. I learned how to manage my time more effectively and efficiently. I learned how to set an example of giving and stewardship. I learned how to set apart time for my wife and family because time became so precious.

On January of 2020, I had started a Bible Study in my house. Church members, non-church members and non-believers were attending. We started with just 4 men the first couple of weeks and by the end of February 12-15 men were coming and their wives were coming to the women’s bible studies. We genuinely thought that this was going to be the start of our church plant. Then, March 2020 comes around and the beginning of the COVID lockdowns, mandates and pandemic hits. The church shuts downs, home groups shut down, everything shuts down! I thought that this was the end of this potential church plant, but God had different plans.

On Resurrection Sunday of 2020, we purchased a new house. After moving, my wife and I decided that eventually we would take the risk of getting COVID, open our house for Bible Study and worship, and see if the Lord would bless us. On June 2020, we did just that and the Lord indeed blessed our home. Our Bible Studies grew and we had about 5-10 families consistently attending. Some were members of other churches but others were not. I saw the potential of starting a home service and just trying to start a plant. At the same time, the church I was serving at wanted to plant satellite campuses, whereas I was called to plant an autonomous church. Due to this disagreement they decided not to send us and sponsor us as a church plant. However, by the sovereign mercies of God, the Lord had sent a wonderful brother, Pastor Stephen Feinstein of Sovereign Way Christian Church, to sponsor us. Through the North American Mission Board and their Send Network, we officially became a functioning church plant on November 8th, 2020.

We held Sunday services in my own living room, bible studies on our kitchen table, baptisms in our backyard jacuzzi and counseling sessions in my office. Our home became the church. For approximately 6 months our home was always full of people and we loved every minute of it. We soon grew out of our home that only sat 30 people and we moved into another brother’s house that could sit 40 people. After being there for about 4 months, we grew out of that as well. On July 1st 2021, we were able to lease our own facility and hold Sunday services. We have been there for about 2 months now, it seats about 90 people and we are starting to grow out of that facility. I could not have imagined myself in this position 1 year ago.

Last year at this time, I had been let go of my worship pastor position. My wife and I were devastated that we could not workout the church planting sponsorship with our home church. We were in the middle of a world wide pandemic and we never thought a church plant would happen during this time. Since our first Sunday on November 8th, 2020 we have had 12 baptims, 5 salvations, we have doubled in size from 25 to 50/60 Sunday attenders and the Lord continues to bless us every week.

As we approach our 1 year anniversary, I could not be more blessed, joyful, excited or humbled. The Lord has tremendous things instore for Sovereign Trinity Church and we could not be more ready to receive the blessings of God. The Lord is good in his divine forebearance, kindness and grace toward me and my family. He has poured out heavenly blessings beyond my wildest dreams. I’m just along for the ride as I serve my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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