Acts 2 Journey Brings New Life to NewLife
NewLife Assembly of God is located in Canyon Country, California, a community and district within the city of Santa Clarita in northwestern Los Angeles County. Although the church was established 50 years ago, reaching into the community was not a formative part of its DNA.
Pastor at NewLife for seven years, Chris Janiak says, "I knew the church needed a vision and strategies to complete that vision. The Acts 2 Journey was a perfect fit.”
The Acts 2 Journey has laid a solid foundation for growth. Prior to the Journey, very little discipleship was taking place, Janiak says. Now NewLife is focused on training, discipling, and mentoring the church body; more than half the congregation is involved in the discipleship program.
The Journey has totally renewed the church, helping the congregation to change their focus to reaching outward. Church members are excited about bringing their friends and neighbors.
Although many families have moved out of the area during the past year because of an economic decline, NewLife’s average Sunday attendance has remained at 115-130 due to the number of new people coming.
"It is very rewarding as a pastor to see our people genuinely excited about reaching our community and telling others about Jesus," Janiak says.
One NewLife member, who posts on Facebook regularly about the church and his relationship with Jesus, received a message from a friend he had not seen in 20 years, saying he wanted to know more about Jesus. They met for coffee, and his friend accepted Jesus. The church member took him to a Christian bookstore to get his first Bible. This friend invited others to come to church, which has resulted in a continuing chain of new people coming and accepting Christ.
NewLife also began offering a Spanish service concurrent to the English service on Sunday mornings; the church is located in a heavily populated Hispanic community.
“We adopted the school across the street,” Janiak says. "We’ve been giving them backpacks, office supplies, Walmart gift cards, and many other services.” As a result, members of the PTA and school staff are now followers of the church’s Facebook page, and many are attending church services and functions.
On Wednesday, August 17, NewLife is hosting a “Back to School Fest,” where six government organizations and about 10 local businesses will offer children free health screenings, vaccinations, and school supplies. They expect to serve about 800 children and their families.
"When I first started pastoring NewLife, everybody just wanted to have a great Sunday morning service and then go back to their lives until the following week," Janiak says. "As a result of the Acts 2 Journey, every aspect of church life, from Sunday morning to serving the community, has shifted."
The church is currently partnering with a rehabilitation organization that is creating a residential retreat center to house men for one year and teach them a trade. NewLife is developing the chapel/pastoral ministries and providing a worship pastor for the retreat center.
But it’s not large groups the church is reaching out to. Several church members regularly take free coffee and donuts to day laborers and employees who work outside at a local home supply business, greeting and helping customers. As a result several of those workers are coming to NewLife and some have accepted Christ.
"The Acts 2 Journey is truly about the local church finding, understanding, and embracing the plan God has for them in reaching a lost community,” Janiak says.
Pictured: Chris and Jezanah Janiak