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Stories from Reno, NV

by Lance Unrau on December 07, 2023

November 16-19 Reno Trip Update

Pathfinder Church is a new church in Reno, Nevada. This past summer, Scott Lamberth and his wife Penny, were sent from Stone Arbor Church in Riverside, CA, to start the church. Four other people joined them on the launch team – three from Stone Arbor plus one from Seabreeze, Jonathan Graham. Each person on the Pathfinder Launch Team moved from California and found jobs, housing, etc., all to help get the church off the ground and running. They have been finding ways to meet people, have spiritual conversations, and invite them to church. This fall, Pathfinder has planned three preview services and is preparing for weekly Sunday worship services beginning January 7th.

Scott invited Seabreeze to help them with their second preview service on November 19th. He wanted us to be their band, help with childcare, and set up/takedown. Scott also wanted some help promoting the preview service. So, Seabreeze sent a team of twelve people! I led it with my wife Crystal. The team members were Tudor, Katie, Steve, Marie, Matt, Tim, Alissa, Cece, Ryan, and Crystal M.

We flew in Thursday night November 16th, so on Friday, we hit the ground running. We had breakfast with Scott, and he gave us an orientation for the weekend. The big goals for Friday were to pray, do door hangers and sign twirling, participate in an outreach event, and do some spiritual surveys if there was time.

The first thing Scott had us do was a prayer loop. We drove to various places around the city and prayed for specific things. We stopped at a park where they met before and the river where they baptized the first person who decided to follow Jesus. Then, we went to the campus of UNR (University of Nevada, Reno) and prayed for the college students. Next, we dropped by each of the launch team members homes and prayed for them. We ended our time near the hotel where Pathfinder is holding preview services. This prayer loop was a really special way to get familiar with the city and intentionally pray for God to move in the hearts of individuals who don’t know Him yet in the city of Reno. 

We had a quick lunch break and then took a few hours to walk around neighborhoods to do door hangers. We passed out around 1,300 door hangers. The few interactions we had with people in the neighborhoods were positive, with only a few people who were negative or oppositional about the new church starting.

I went to hang a door hanger on a door to a hallway of apartments. Right then, a lady opened the door to leave. Instead of the encounter being awkward or hostile, she was very friendly and offered to put it inside the apartment so that other people could see it. Even when we expect opposition, we will find a few open hearts among those we reach.
– Steve Brunk

Pathfinder is renting space in a hotel to hold their services, so Scott wanted us to do some sign twirling in front of the hotel. This was a highlight for much of the team!

While a few people took shifts twirling the sign, others went to do spiritual surveys. We went to a local food court area, told people we were starting a new church, and asked if they’d be willing to answer a few questions. The questions were:

  1. Why do you think most people don’t go to church as much as they used to?
  2. What do you think are some of the barriers for people to try out a Christian Church for the first time (or at all)?
  3. We care about our community. Is there anything we can pray for you about?

For those who did spiritual surveys, they were surprised by the willingness of people to talk. Good conversations happened and many were invited to the preview service through that.

People are far more open to talking about God than I had assumed. I had built up many reasons in mind that kept me from initiating conversations about Jesus and this experience completely changed the way I view evangelizing.
- Matt McGhee

That night, we went to the Reno Public Market to have dinner with the launch team and meet new people. Scott has done a lot of online marketing for Pathfinder and he invited people to join him for dinner at the food court. A few new people showed up to have dinner and meet Scott, his team, and the Seabreeze team. Most of these new people attended the preview service a few days later!

Our Saturday started with hanging out with the launch team. We went to Palisades Tahoe, the site of the Winter Olympic Games in 1960. Though it was a bit rainy and cold, it was a neat place to walk around and hang out.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to know the members of the launch team at Pathfinder Church: hearing their stories, seeing how God has led them to where they are today, and getting to witness awesome examples of everyday people walking by faith. It really encouraged me to see them being so faithful - so much they were willing to move to Reno, Nevada! It reminded me that we can all be faithful no matter what role God has given us.
- Marie Brunk

After lunch, the Seabreeze team split up. Some went sign twirling, others went throughout neighborhoods to do spiritual surveys, and some went to Guitar Center to get equipment for the next day.

Scott had some of the team pair up and do “door-to-door” surveying. This was a huge stretch for me and out of my comfort zone. But I was shocked how receptive and open people were to talking to us. Only God could have opened up their hearts like that to receive us. It was an amazing experience for me to see that God can work at his best when I’m feeling the most insecure about my own abilities.
- Tudor Marici

My biggest takeaway was going door to door for surveys... I had so many preconceived notions about it but did it anyways in an act of obedience. And it ended up being better than I could've imagined. God made a way.
- Crystal Milligan

In the late afternoon, the hotel gave us access to the rooms where the preview service was being held, so we set up for the next morning’s service. We set up the A/V equipment, Camp Pathfinder, which is their kid's ministry, and various first impressions things. It was great to get into the room early! It was their second time to set up for a worship service, so we helped them figure out what they are going to setup and tear down every week starting in January.

Reno Trip - Set Up

Sunday morning came, and last-minute preparations for the preview service happened. The service was at 10am. Just before it, at around 9:40am, Scott gathered the volunteers, gave us some perspective, and prayed. He shared that he had been praying for 75 people to show up to a preview service before the end of the year, including all the volunteers. He reiterated that it is not about the numbers and that God is the one to work in people’s hearts, but that’s what he was praying for. He prayed, and as he said amen, guests began walking in the door! We all jumped into hosting mode and met a lot of new people who were checking out the church. The feeling in the room was very exciting. God had clearly drawn people to check out Pathfinder.

The service went great. Katie Marici, led the Seabreeze band, then Joe, one of the launch team members, did announcements. Scott shared a message that was a very clear explanation of our need for Jesus. He also gave a context for the church and what kind of church he wants Pathfinder to be. While the service happened, some Seabreeze team members helped with childcare, so the launch team could focus on meeting new people.

Reno Trip - Preview Service

After the service, we talked with guests for a while, and then packed up all the equipment. Scott gathered our team and their core people to share what had happened: in all, 72 people showed up!

To Seabreeze, I want to say thank you for your prayer and financial support that enabled this trip to happen. We could not have gone without either one of those things. I know we were a real help and encouragement to Scott, Penny, and their team. Please continue to pray for Pathfinder Church, that God would open doors for the gospel to be shared and that many would decide to follow Jesus and join Pathfinder Church. Their next preview service is on Christmas Eve.

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