Remembering how God used us to plant a church

October 1st 2001 (right after the September 11th chaos) we moved from Chisholm, Minnesota down to Belle Plaine, Minnesota. We had no contacts or core group, just the prayer and financial backing of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and some training to plant a church. God was faithful from the time we started until the time we moved back to Northern Minnesota to serve another church on October 1, 2021. That chapter of our lives in Belle Plaine was exactly 20 years. Here is a magazine article that describes those first few years:

Article from Alliance Life Magazine titled “SOWING THE SEED”

August 28, 2005

The C&MA plants a church in one of the fastest-growing counties in America (Scott County, Minnesota)

Belle Plaine, Minnesota, an outer-ring suburb of Minneapolis, has many characteristics similar to suburbs throughout the United States. This farmland region is growing at the rate of one house per day. In fact, Scott County is the fastest growing county in the northern half of the country and the eighth fastest growing county in the nation. Still, until the River Rock Church was planted in 2002, there was no truly evangelical church in the area proclaiming, “You must be born again.”

It all began when two pastors had lunch at a restaurant in the town. A waitress mentioned that she wished there was a contemporary and relevant Bible-teaching church in the neighborhood. One of the pastors returned to his Southwest area C&MA prayer group, and they began to pray about planting a church in Belle Plaine. For two years they prayed. Tim Maki, director of church planting for the Northwestern District (now North Central District), approached Pastor Chris Teien in October 2001 to move to the town to plant a church.

“We came here not knowing anybody,” says Teien. He and his family bought a house in a new housing development, not knowing that 75 percent of the people they would minister to ultimately would be made up of people moving into that new development.

Teien explains, “My wife and I weren’t sure if we should leave our comfortable church ministry in Northern Minnesota to start a church with no contacts and no core group. As we prayed about it, we felt the Lord telling us that if we would step out in faith He would provide the people and resources we needed to be successful.” As soon as they arrived they began a prayerful “scavenger hunt” to find the people God was calling to be a part of this new work. Within one month the Teiens were holding Bible studies in their home. By the end of December 2001 the group had grown to 35.

After seven “practice” Sundays, on Palm Sunday 2002, River Rock Church held its first public service including a concert, which drew 240 people. The following week, 100 returned for worship. Currently between 70 and 100 people attend each Sunday.

Through the following summer God continued to provide people with a desire to serve Him. Soon River Rock had a youth group and men’s and women’s Bible study groups. In the fall they began Sunday school classes for all ages and a high-quality children’s church program.

Teien explains, “For a baby church we praise the Lord for His faithfulness in equipping River Rock Church to do eternally significant, well-rounded ministry so quickly. As God provides people and resources we continue to try to expand our discipleship and outreach programs. Our youth leaders are committed to helping teens grow spiritually and not just entertain them. It is exciting to see the kids’ faith and commitment grow. We were able to pull a Bible quizzing team together and compete against other churches. One of the greatest needs in the community is building up marriages and strengthening families and now the Lord has provided the people and resources to offer ‘Homebuilders’ groups for married couples.”

Teien and his leaders work to respond to many people in their area who have “mega-church” expectations. He says, “Our facilities are lacking, our space is limited, our folding chairs are not the most comfortable.” Another problem is that in the old part of town many are closed to outsiders. Teien says that’s OK. “Maybe God is calling us to be the church of the new people,” he says.

One of the greatest challenges is finding a place to meet and expand their ministries. Most of this growing community has young children and not having their own building makes it difficult to offer Bible studies with childcare, M.O.P.S. groups and midweek kid’s programs. They have tried to rent, lease or buy the few buildings that would work, but nothing is available. They have approached several landowners to try to buy land at a fair price, but the land is going up in value so quickly that they currently are still empty-handed. Teien says, “River Rock has seen God answer prayer and bring us this far and now we are waiting on the Lord to help us acquire the money and land to put up the building we need to reach this county for people living here today and for future generations.”
Teien first inquired about ministry with the C&MA when he attended Crown College. Before he was able to get through the C&MA church ministry process, however, he was “snatched up” by a Baptist church. Teien says, “It was God’s plan for me to grow under the leadership of the pastors in the two Baptist General Conference churches I served in because it helped me to be better prepared to plant this church in Belle Plaine.

“I’m excited,” he adds, “to be part of the C&MA because it seems like more a movement of God than just another denomination. Even though we are close to Crown College most people don’t have a clue who or what the C&MA is. I tell them that it is a Christian organization that helps churches to be more effective in helping people come to Christ, grow in their faith, be involved in ministry, and share with others the message of Christ. I’m finding that most Christians get excited about being part of a group like that.”

Through God’s power and provision and the faithfulness of the people, Teien sees the church making a life-changing impact on Belle Plaine, Jordan and Henderson, Minnesota, and growing to a church of 500 over the next five years. He says, “It’s not that we want to have the biggest church in town as much as we want to have the greatest impact helping adults and children discover new life in Christ.”