When the precursor to the Assemblies of God “Every Church a Parent or Partner” campaign came to Dallas/Fort Worth in September 2002 with the challenge, “How are you going to expand the kingdom of God?” Dallas First Assembly Pastor Tom McMahan began to consider the tiny church that his church had planted 70 years earlier in Rockwall.
In recent years, ever-expanding Dallas overtook the little farming town of 350 people 23 miles to the northeast, making Rockwall a 20,000-strong suburb with young families of Gen-Xers. First Assembly of God of Rockwall, however, had just 19 active members, all senior citizens. Tom McMahan’s son, Tommy, was the pastor.
Father and son began talking about what Dallas First Assembly could do to renew its ties to the Rockwall church. Soon, the parent church sent some of its best workers, teachers and musicians to Rockwall and made the little church Dallas First Assembly’s Rockwall campus. Dallas shared all assets, including facilities and vehicles. Rockwall began ministry for children, youth and Hispanics.
“We’ve got a full band with praise singers now,” Tommy says. In June, Sunday services averaged 77 worshipers. Two Rockwall deacons sit on the Dallas board.
Now the former country church is thriving. Tommy says the meeting in 2002 challenged churchgoers to be risk-takers, just like in the early days of Pentecostalism.
Are there drawbacks? “It’s a win-win every way you go,” Tom says. “The people were burned out, exhausted, and realized that without a major change their church wouldn’t exist much longer. These same faithful people are excited about doing something for Christ.”
A/G Church Planting Director Paul Drost, who organizes church revitalization campaigns such as the one Tom McMahan attended, says he would like to see other congregations follow the Dallas example. “The paradigm has to change for the future vitality of the Assemblies of God,” Drost says. “It’s really churches helping churches rather than only being concerned with their own four walls."