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Community Cooperation

Church growth results from a united gospel outreach effort.

Lifehouse Church of Hagerstown, Maryland, is one of America’s fastest-growing churches. The church, launched in 2005, now hosts an average of 2,100 attendees weekly on four campuses in two locations.

Although the church has seen dramatic growth, Lead Pastor Patrick D. Grach isn’t focused on reaching numeric goals.

“In nature, things that are healthy can feed themselves, defend themselves, and multiply themselves,” Grach says. “That’s how we approach everything in ministry.”

Grach’s belief in multiplication carries beyond the walls of Lifehouse Church. He leads the For Our City effort, a gospel-centered partnership with over 20 other churches in Hagerstown. Church leaders are coordinating outreaches, such as adopt-a-block and adopt-a-school programs; championing foster care and family advocacy; and addressing issues of marginalization, poverty, and injustice. The combined effort has resulted in hundreds of people making decisions for Christ and local churches growing by nearly 1,000 people.

“The idea is for churches to reach the people that are far from Jesus,” Grach says. “We multiply because there is a lot of work to be done.”

The efforts that Grach — who works closely with the AG’s national Church Multiplication Network — supervises extend beyond Hagerstown. Grach leads the Lifehouse Church Network, a church-planting network of a dozen congregations hosting 20 services each weekend in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and internationally.

“Patrick’s vision is a vision for reproducing,” says Jeff S. Leake, lead pastor of Allison Park Church in Pennsylvania and a Lifehouse Network board member. “It is giving life and momentum to something that is reaching beyond one location.”

A Lifehouse Network goal is to raise up pastors to start works in unchurched areas. Grach facilitates multiplication in the network by developing church planters in a paid residency program, providing financial grants to church plants, and resourcing leaders with training and coaching relationships.

“Patrick is an all-in leader,” says Leake, who meets with Grach monthly. “People follow him because they see his genuine commitment.”

A recent addition to the Lifehouse Network, John C. Ware, launched Lifehouse Newport News in Virginia on a record-setting September day, as part of the Potomac Ministry Network’s C32 initiative. Lifehouse Newport News had an opening-day attendance of 417 people, and averaged over 300 its first month of services. In that span, over 20 people made decisions to follow Jesus.

Rebecca Burtram

Rebecca Burtram is an Assemblies of God pastor in Charlottesville, Virginia, a pastor's wife, mother to three, and an English teacher. She is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs, and she blogs at rebeccaburtram.com.