Church Planting

Life Center develops leaders by offering relationships, opportunities, and training (ROT). All of these are embedded in the residency program described below. We are committed to continuing to plant reproducing churches to fulfill the Great Commission—to help more people find and follow Jesus!

In 1978, Joe and Laina Wittwer were appointed Lead Pastors. This church of 40 shrunk to almost nothing and then slowly began to grow. Several thousand people now worship at Life Center each weekend. In 1997, Life Center began to plant churches in Spokane; today, there are 18 daughter and granddaughter churches, 17 of them in the Spokane region, and 1 in Russia! In January 2021, Pastor Joe passed the leadership baton to his son, Pastor Michael. Michael is now the Lead Pastor and Joe is on staff as the Founding Pastor and will continue giving attention to Life Center’s church planting efforts.

Life Center May 78 Joe Wittwer Momma
Summit Sep 97 Grant Bruscoe Daughter
North Church Sep 99 Mike Meade Daughter
Living Hope Mar 00 Sean Lumsden Granddaughter
Life Roads Sep 02 Donnie Johnson Daughter
Eastpoint Jan 03 Tony Mitchell Daughter
City Church Sep 09 Pete Kopplin Daughter
Mosaic Sep 10 John Repsold Sponsored
Uplift Apr 13 Joe Pittenger Granddaughter
The Heights Jan 14 Jacob Powers Granddaughter
Immanuel Jan 14 Rob Fairbanks Sponsored
River City Jan 15 Bobby Moore Daughter
LC Kaliningrad Jan 15 Alex Skachkov Daughter
Ady Foursquare Jan 18 Larry Wathne Granddaughter
Followers Jan 18 Matt King Granddaughter
Summit U Feb 18 Grant Bruscoe Granddaughter
City Hill Jan 22 Sergey Tsuber Daughter
Journey Dec 21 Wayne Farris Daughter
The Heights Davenport Apr 22 Anton Stout Great Granddaughter

What is a residency?

A residency is a self-funded 12-month church planting apprenticeship. At the conclusion of the residency, the resident will be sent by Life Center to plant a reproducing missional church.

How are residents selected?

Qualifications: We are looking for these qualifications.

  • Character: emotionally healthy and mature, a learner, self-starter, disciplined, good follow-through, self-aware.
  • Chemistry: social intelligence, able to work well with a variety of people, and resolve conflict.
  • Calling: a growing relationship with Jesus, fueled by consistent spiritual practices, resulting in a passionate sense of calling to mission.
  • Competence: spiritual and natural gifts that equip you for this role, with an emphasis on leadership, teaching/preaching, and disciple making.

Please notice that you do not need to have formal theological training, such as a Bible college or seminary degree. Obviously, we would be pleased if you have one! But if you don’t, we offer excellent training, and have opportunities for formal degrees should you desire one.

Application: There are two ways to apply to become a resident. First, by our invitation. If you we know you and know that you have the qualifications we are looking for, we may invite you to apply. Second, by your initiative. If you believe God may be calling, you can apply. Either way, fill out the application found on our website. We will review your application, and schedule an initial interview.

Interview: A couple of our pastors will interview you as an initial assessment of your readiness. It is a behavioral interview, meaning that we will ask you for examples of what you have done in specific areas. If we feel that you have potential, we will set you up for an assessment.

Assessment: We require an objective third-party assessment. For example, we may send you to Stadia’s multi-day assessment (there will be no cost to you). Stadia will send us a detailed assessment of your qualifications, experience and preparedness, including a plan to address any weaknesses they spot. We will use this assessment to shape your individual residency.

How are residents funded?

Since one of the skills required to plant a self-sustaining church is fund-raising, residents must raise at least half of their funding. You will be required to create a budget for the year for you and/or your family, and raise at least half that amount by asking friends and family to support you.

Where does the rest of the funding come from? Since most church planters will launch bi-vocationally, we recommend you find a part-time job to fund the balance of your expenses, and learn to minister bi-vocationally.

In some cases, Life Center may be able to contribute to your funding.

How long is a residency?

A residency will begin with a 12-month term which can be extended up to 24 months, depending on the level of the resident’s readiness to plant. The length of residency is mutually decided by Life Center’s leadership, the mentor pastor and the resident.

What will residents do?

At Life Center, residents will act as adjunct staff members and will be engaged in the following ways.

  • Shadow an appointed church leader. Life Center will assign you a mentor pastor for you to shadow and meet with weekly (or more). We want you to catch the Life Center DNA and this relationship will be a key part of that. Also, we believe that relationships are the most important and first part of leadership development.
  • Be involved in a weight-bearing leadership role. Residents will be given opportunities to lead in various roles, including speaking opportunities and leading a mission group and multiplying it. These roles will match the resident’s gifts and interests, but won’t be limited to those.
  • Participate in larger PNWM training and relational opportunities. PNWM offers required monthly training for all residents in the movement. These will include some reading and homework, and will focus on both theological and practical training. Our PNWM networks also offer residents opportunity for relationship with other leaders and residents.
  • Embed themselves in their context and engage in missional activities. If you are planting in the local region, we want you to move into the neighborhood where you hope to plant, and begin building redemptive relationships there. Engage in mission now! You learn ministry by doing it.
  • Engage in LC directed theological and practical skill training. In addition to training offered by PNWM, we will offer specific training opportunities to impart Life Center’s unique DNA and values. You will be invited to participate in top level leadership meetings to see how we think and plan and execute. If you will be planting a Foursquare church, you will also attend the denominational training for church planting.

What next?

Pray first! It starts with a clear calling from God. What is He saying to you? Is He calling you to be a church planter?

If you have questions, feel free to contact Pastor Joe. If you know you’re interested and want to proceed, fill out the application. Let’s go!

Moving Together

Life Center is part of the PNWM (Pacific Northwest Movement). We (PNWM) are networks of churches who are partnering to identify, train and send 400 missional leaders to plant reproducing, self-sustaining churches in our region (Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and the Pacific NW). As a movement, we share four values:

  • Relationships: we are friends on mission together.
  • Reproducing: we are committed to multiplying at every level—disciples, leaders, churches and networks.
  • Resources: we share our resources (including money and people) to reach our goals.
  • Residents: we each will have a resident each year.

For a fuller explanation of these, see our website or the tabs below. We have been blessed with a grant from the Lilly Foundation in partnership with Whitworth University to be used for training church planters.

At the core we want to be friends on mission together. We desire healthy accountability, networking, praying, learning together and all that is relational. Each network is led by one Network Leader, and consists of 3-6 churches. We meet together monthly to pray, encourage, dream and strategize to accomplish our vision. All of our area networks will meet together on a quarterly basis in order to share best practices and to encourage/challenge each other to thrive and achieve reproducing goals.

We value being churches committed to reproducing at every level of ministry. This takes an intentional plan for making disciples and developing leaders through an apprentice model and coaching structure. We believe effective collaboration is one of the keys to move from occasionally adding churches to our city (which doesn’t even match attrition) to exponential multiplication. Each network will create a simple strategic action plan to be intentional with measurable reproducing goals.

We share resources of funding, buildings, leaders, training, and creative content (message manuscripts, videos and more). Financially, each church within our network will invest in two ways: 1) each church will contribute $1,000 per year AND 2) receive one special offering per year. By contributing in in these two ways it first provides a baseline “skin in the game” by all contributing the same amount. Then, through the special offering it levels the playing field for different sized churches. In a special offering larger churches will typically contribute significantly more than a smaller church.

All of those collective funds stay within the local network for use by the Network for church planting, campus planting, Leadership Resident grants and coaching. Network Leaders are asked to provide an annual summary of how the Network Funds were used for accountability to the Network.

Leadership Residents are apprentice church planters who are being trained to launch a new church or campus. A Leadership Residency will include:

  1. A 12 month apprenticeship with a Campus Pastor/Lead Pastor at any approved church in the Network;
  2. Training as a missionary leader with DNA imprinting from one or more of the collaborating churches.
  3. The Resident will carry a weight bearing leadership role.
  4. The funding strategy for the Resident will be defined by each network.