WENTZVILLE — It started as a vision and a desire to build a community of believers in his new hometown of Wentzville.
Now, four years later, Pastor Jason Zellmer, or “Jay Z,” as his congregation affectionately calls him, has witnessed Peine Ridge Church grow from 19 people meeting in his house to as many as 290 on a given Sunday.
“It’s by God’s grace that we’ve seen that many people come through our doors, but that’s not the measure of success we use,” Zellmer said. “That’s not the measure of success God uses. We’ve all seen the old attendance and offering board that hangs on the wall inside many churches. Well, that means nothing when it comes to what God wants churches to be focused on.”
For Zellmer and his fellow Peine Ridge pastors, Jason Myers and Nathan Smith, it’s not about expanding numbers, increasing budgets and building bigger facilities.
It’s not about adding to what they’re doing in Wentzville. It’s about multiplying it.
“In 2013, our church will embark on starting a multiplication movement,” Zellmer said. “This isn’t a new vision, but rather another step to realizing the original vision God has given us. Our church wants to love recklessly, teach the Bible, help the hurting and plant new churches.”
He said the key to pursuing church multiplication effectively is developing more disciples so that they can carry the torch for future church plants. Last year Peine Ridge invested in 60 different church members as part of its one-on-one discipleship ministry.
“Our Peine families become the missionaries we are sending,” he said. “Making true disciples and planting churches is what the Bible says to do and as long as we are looking toward obedience to the Lord’s command vinstead of looking at the budget and our buildings, we believe God will bless and that God’s kingdom will grow. This is where God’s heart is and this is how we will have success as a church.”
But Zellmer insisted that duplicating Peine Ridge Church over and over wasn’t the right move either. He said the reason they chose to name the church Peine Ridge was because the name is a well-known, central location in Wentzville, and unique to the people who live there. Their goal is to start three autonomous churches in the next three years starting with “The Credence Campus” in Moscow Mills.
“We have over 30 people living in this community, as well as capable leaders,” Zellmer said. “So, rather than starting a new service (at Peine Ridge), we will start a new campus in a new community.”
Initially, all resources will be shared between both campuses and leadership would serve under Peine Ridge. But, as the Credence Campus develops its own teams and pastoral leaders are trained and appointed, they would assume the controls and Peine Ridge would only stay in the picture as a helping sister church.
He compared the resulting partnership on the local church level to the partnerships with the Missouri Baptist Convention, the North American Mission Board, and Twin Rivers Baptist Association.
“Those partnerships have always been there for us and when we partner to plant new churches we want to be faithful to our partnerships to further the kingdom,” Zellmer said. “We are grateful for the legacy of all the churches that have gone before us and for their continued prayer and resources, without which Peine Ridge and future church planting ventures would not be possible.”
And while Zellmer’s passion for church planting starts with Peine Ridge, it certainly doesn’t end there. Zellmer is also on staff with the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association and, along with Darren Casper, is leading a church planting movement called plantMIDWEST. He said the movement is about identifying with the historic principles of partnership and cooperation that helped build the Southern Baptist Convention.
“It started with Darren Casper and myself gathering to pray together in St.Louis and has since expanded to people gathering throughout Missouri and Illinois, from the Ozarks to Kansas City and even to Chicago,” Zellmer said. “We want to see a church planting movement in the urban, suburban and small town populations that make up the Midwest.”
For more information about plant MIDWEST and to plan to attend its next quarterly meeting visit www.plantmidwest.com.