We believe every small town should have a life-giving church and every small town church should have a big impact.
By creating community among small town pastors and leaders from all Christian theological and denominational backgrounds.
By offering conferences and events which provide useful tools to address the unique characteristics of the small town church.
By encouraging pastors and leaders to measure true success by more than Sunday attendance numbers.
Tony & Sheryll Ashmore
Tony and Sheryll Ashmore are founding and oversight pastors of LifeGate Church in Villa Rica, GA. There are three campuses for LifeGate - Villa Rica, Bremen and Carrollton. They started LifeGate in February 2004. Villa Rica has a population of 13,900. Tony and Sheryll have been in pastoral ministry since 1987 and have served churches in every area from administrative to Senior Pastor. Together, they have planted five churches, in areas ranging in population from 1900 to over a million.
They live in a small town and love it. They believe every small town should have a great life-giving church. Their pastoral lives were changed forever by their friendship with Billy Hornsby, founder of the Association of Related Churches. Billy believed in them and became a spiritual parent to them, helping them achieve the dreams God had placed in their hearts for LifeGate and Villa Rica. Tony and Sheryll feel compelled to do the same thing for other small town pastors and, along with Chad and Melinda Waller, birthed smalltown.church to help do that. They were married in 1975 and have 3 married children and 7 grandchildren.
Hal & Sondra Hardy
In April of 2006, Hal and Sondra Hardy moved to Cumming, GA, (population 5613) with a love for the people of this city, a passion for the Great Commission and a desire to plant a life-giving church that shares with the world that “God is not mad at you, He’s mad about you. He wants to know you personally and that He has a great plan and purpose for your life!” Today, that dream has become a reality and Highlands Church is a place where people can connect with God and friends for a life changing and life giving experience.
Hal and Sondra believe every small town in America should have a life-giving church with a heart for that town. When that church operates with a spirit of excellence it inspires people and honors God. Excellence is doing ministry in such a way that it communicates to the residents of your town that God is worthy of our best effort AND SO ARE THEY.
Hal and Sondra have been married since 1993. They enjoy hanging out with their friends and spending time with their two beautiful daughters.
James Johnson-Hill & Nece Hill
James Johnson-Hill is the first generation of his family NOT born in Mississippi. But in 2009, James and his wife, Nece, felt the Lord calling them back to his family’s roots in Laurel, Mississippi to plant a life-giving church and finish a work that started long before they arrived. Laurel has a population of 17,000 and in April 2010, Agape Church was launched.
James and Nece are passionate about the church demonstrating how Jesus and the power of God can be the catalyst in transforming a city. They love their small town and want to help other small town churches succeed. In a small town, everything matters and everything is noticeable. Churches in small towns have the opportunity and ability to positively impact their cities in ways that are difficult in larger cities. A life giving church in a small town can literally change the spiritual climate, which will have an impact on the economy, politics, education and race relations. James and Nece have been married since 2001 and have four children.
Chad & Melinda Waller
Chad and Melinda Waller moved back to their hometown of Tennille, Ga. (population 1400) to start Victory Central Church in 2004. They relaunched the church in 2011 as VC2 and have seen tremendous growth in the life and health of the church. VC2 has not only grown stronger within, the church has gained tremendous influence within their city and with other pastoral leaders in their region.
Chad and Melinda believe strongly that the next big move of God in the U.S. will be among small town churches and, along with Tony and Sheryll Ashmore, birthed smalltown.church to help other small town pastors reach their full Kingdom potential! They have a strong desire to help churches achieve what they call ‘generational synergy’—creating a culture where every generation sees themselves as partners with the generations before and after them in extending God’s Kingdom to every small town in America. VC2’s growth and health can be attributed, in a large part, to how the Lord has created this generational synergy among them. Every member, youngest and oldest, feel they are important to the life and vitality of their church and the result is a church that impacts a city and a region!
Steve & Barbara Brown
Steve and Barbara serve as lead pastors of West Metro Church in Douglasville, GA since November 1, 2015 with a population of 31,890 people. They have served in pastoral leadership since 1984 and for the past twelve years have focused on church planting and revitalization. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.
Steve and Barbara believe Acts 1:8 sets a goal for every church to have at least four ‘pulpits’ and those pulpits only happen when churches are healthy. Many small towns do not have a church, let alone a healthy church. Healthy churches produce healthy disciples and healthy disciples produce amazing leaders who, in turn, plant churches, which reach lost people. Therefore it is our dream to help birth or revive a healthy church in every small town in America. We endeavor to do that through revitalization of existing congregations or planting new churches. This is a “God-sized” dream and the Browns look forward to using all they have learned in over 30 years of ministry to help others in all the new small town partnerships awaiting them.
Craig & Patti Wendel
Craig and Patti Wendel are the founding pastors of Southpoint Church in Southaven, Mississippi. Southpoint launched on Labor Day weekend in 2006. Southaven has a population of 45,000, but Southpoint Church is comprised of members from towns as small as Walls (pop: 1250) and Hernando (pop: 15,000) to a new influx of people from Memphis.
Craig and Patti married in 1993 and have 3 children. They have been in full-time ministry since they married and their work has included youth, missions, executive and administration. Along the way they have discovered there is a difference in ministering to large cities when compared to the dynamics of a small city or town. It is in the context of small town ministry that the love of Jesus is not just experienced, but walked out every single day in front of the people that we encounter daily. The church in a small town is less ‘anonymous’ and has the opportunity to be a significant catalyst of change because the whole town is more aware of their presence and their presentation of Christ. Craig and Patti have a desire to help small town churches and pastors capitalize on their town’s particular dynamic by helping them create an environment where the unchurched or dechurched will easily understand and accept the Gospel of Christ.
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We are all about helping small town churches reach their full Kingdom potential. We would love to stay connected between conferences. Connect with us today through Facebook, Twitter, and our blog. We are always here for you, so if you have a question just ask. We will answer it asap. (We Promise!)
COMING IN 2018
The Small Town Church Conference is hosted by small town churches, for small town churches! Leading a church in a small town means facing unique challenges & joys. Connect with other small town church pastors, leaders, volunteers and staff and learn from those who have been there and done that! Hosted by LifeGate Church in Villa Rica, Georgia, you will experience 2-days of worship, teaching, breakouts and connections. Bring your whole team for this amazing gathering, and let us help propel you to the next level of growth.