By Kent E. Fillinger
John Seitz arrived as senior pastor of Antioch Christian Church in Marion, Iowa, in 2000 when the church was averaging 220 in attendance. Seitz and the elders wanted to see the church grow, to reach out, and to love the lost. Antioch Christian purchased 93 acres on a main highway to create space for growth and relocated to its new facility in December 2005.
The church’s attendance has almost doubled since 2006, growing 21 percent last year to an average worship attendance of 1,136.
Seitz credits the growth to the grace of God working through the life of the church, combined with a commitment to communicate the gospel and to make space for growth.
Antioch is out of space in its four weekend worship services, but Seitz hesitates to add another Sunday morning session because service length would need to be shortened and he fears doing so would disrupt the current worship dynamic. The church is launching a capital campaign this spring to raise an additional $1.5 million in two years to expand the worship center and lobby and to add children’s ministry space and a gym. The proposed expansion would add 40,000 square feet to the existing 23,000-square-foot facility.
Seitz relies more on his growing staff than he did when he started. He said the church places a priority on delegating ministry and developing volunteers. People have gladly accepted the opportunities to serve, and the church has developed several high-capacity volunteers who lead key ministries. Seitz advises his staff not to have a “to-do” list, but rather a “to-be” list. He tells his staff not to wait for people to come and volunteer, but to seek out people, spend time with them, and always ask, “How can this person be used in the kingdom for God’s glory?”
The church offers business leadership luncheons for the community three times in the spring and fall at an off-site location central to the primary business district. Antioch attendees are encouraged to invite their bosses or colleagues to hear Seitz address leadership principles from a biblical perspective. The luncheon averages about 25, and Seitz enjoys the opportunity to have a presence in the marketplace.
Seitz borrowed a concept from John Maxwell and launched a pastor’s prayer group when he came to Antioch. He believes in the correlation between the power of prayer and effective leadership. Seitz leads a prayer retreat every fall and invites the men in the church to attend. Forty men participated last fall, receiving a daily prayer calendar listing the needs of the church and its ministries. Seitz also recruited 32 men—he calls them his “mighty men”—who commit to praying one Sunday a month, so that every Sunday a team of men spends 30 minutes walking through the entire building praying. The men then lay hands on and pray specifically for Seitz before each service. Seitz also hosts semi-
annual all-church men’s prayer breakfasts that average almost 80 in attendance.
Seitz and his team remain committed to reaching the lost and building up believers from their back door to the ends of the earth. He dreams of possibly developing an internship program in conjunction with Christian colleges to create a ministry learning lab for students to receive practical, hands-on ministry experiences at Antioch to better prepare them for ministry.