In the fall of 2002, our founding pastor, Patrick Grach, felt debilitated and tired of "church." In the midst of his frustration, he wrote down some short thoughts on what he felt church should be:
tired of the same routine
tired of "church"
want God without the religion
followers of Christ
not stale Christians
created for more
to change the world
won't go on like this
desperate to know God
show me with passion
we'll live it out-loud
Ever felt this way before? These are the thoughts that birthed the passion and vision for Lifehouse Church.
In prayer and fasting, God began to rekindle the passion Patrick originally felt when he was first called into ministry. Now, with Bible college, graduate school, and five years of ministry behind him, Patrick questioned if it was time to dream again and believe for the impossible.
Like a fire in his heart, Patrick knew God was challenging him to "step onto the front lines of battle" and plant a church. It was time to move to an unfamiliar area and build a 21st Century New Testament church. At the same time, Pastor Terry Broadwater at Bethel Assembly of God in Hagerstown, Maryland was dreaming to plant a church in the region to multiply The Kingdom of God locally. Through a divine connection, in January 2003, Terry and Patrick began to lay out the strategy for a new church in eastern Hagerstown, Maryland to reach the un-churched and spiritually hungry.
Initially, Patrick was offered a debt-free church property in Halfway, Maryland to begin the work. However, he felt God's direction was clear: to plant an "unplugged" church in east Hagerstown. So he declined the offer on the $1.2 million facility because he wanted to stay focused on the "why".
By fall of 2003, a small nucleus of people began to gather weekly to dream, pray, and plan for the birth of a new church. Thus, Lifehouse Church was conceived. As the team set the plan and strategy in place, they received full support from Bethel Assembly of God and the network leadership through whom Patrick received his ministerial credentials. By December 2003, Lifehouse Church began to have contemporary-style gatherings in the gym of Bethel Assembly of God.
On March 23, 2004, the team took the next step in church planting by launching weekly Saturday services at Smithsburg High School. During the first six months, numerous outreach events were hosted in the surrounding neighborhood — picnics, festivals, service projects, BBQs, evangelism, free car washes, weekly food distributions, basketball tournaments, and regular advertising. Within these six months, 16 individuals committed to being Jesus-followers. These outreach events gave the church great community exposure that led to building a stronger core team of leaders.
Lifehouse Church continued to grow and change over the next year, moving from Smithsburg High to Chewsville Community Center. Rich and Lori Vieira from Virginia Beach also joined the team as Children's Ministers in the fall of 2004. That year, the church continued to build their foundation, and led 20 people to follow Jesus.
In January 2005, Pastor Patrick felt God strongly leading the church to transition from private Saturday gatherings to public Sunday morning gatherings at Eastern Elementary School. After presenting and preparing the team for this transition, the church met at Eastern Elementary School on April 3, 2005 for their first public Sunday service. Lifehouse Church had 30 adults and children at the time. During the next 9 months, the weekly attendance grew to 100 people; 48 people began a relationship with God, and the leadership team doubled in size.
As Lifehouse Church slowly outgrew the space at Eastern Elementary, God opened up the doors for the church to move to Leitersburg Cinemas in January of 2008. Over the next three years, the church added multiple services to their Sunday schedule. By 2012, services at Leitersburg Cinema were reaching capacity, but because of the theater's business hours, the church was not able to offer any more service times at that location. As a result, in March 2012, Lifehouse Church expanded to add Saturday services at the Lifehouse Ministry Center on Wilson Boulevard. The family of friends continues to grow as God continues to lead Pastor Patrick through this exciting journey of church planting.