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Relaunched Congregation Grows in Movie Theater

Compass Church in Winona, Minnesota, uses nontraditional means to attract new believers.

Compass Church meets in a movie theater, has no live worship, and keeps its Sunday service meeting to 45 minutes. But the somewhat nontraditional Assemblies of God congregation is making an eternal impact in Winona, Minnesota.  

Pastored by Aaron Lindholm, Compass "exists to reach the 9,000 people in Winona that are far from God by creating a loving, giving, growing community, where it is safe to belong until you believe," according to the church's website.

Lindholm, 38, moved to Winona from Claremore, Oklahoma, in 2009 when around 40 people attended the church regularly.  

Last year, Compass Church had more salvation decisions and baptisms than in the previous four years combined. The church now averages 105 worshippers on Sundays. After Lindholm attended an AG Church Planting BootCamp, Compass officially relaunched in a new location in September 2013, but the church, originally called Faith Assembly of God Church, started in 1979.  

Lindholm says he and the church board sensed Compass should be doing more to reach people with the gospel.  

"We felt like God was giving us another chance like the manager in the parable of the barren fig tree," Lindholm says, referencing Jesus' story in Luke 13:6-9. "Relaunching forced us to be missional and outwardly focused almost overnight."  

Besides meeting in a movie theater, Compass emphasizes serving on volunteer teams in lieu of small groups.  

Youth Pastor Kristi Ruiz and Children's Pastor Ashley Hilton are both longtime members of the church who are now on staff and in training to obtain AG ministerial credentials.   

For Ruiz, going to church used to be a time to get a break from her seven kids. Now she says she can't wait to get up to get going to work.  

Hilton's husband wouldn't come to church, even though her family had been connected for years. Hilton says he is now saved, plugged in, and serving.  

Lindholm says the theater is a well-known location and safe place in the town.  

"We have no plans on moving to a permanent facility at this time, if ever," Lindholm says. "There are still so many people to reach!"


Eric Tiansay

Eric Tiansay has been a full-time journalist since 1993, writing articles for Christian media since 2000. He lives in central Florida, where he is an active member of an Assemblies of God church.