the shape of leadership

Partnering in Church Planting

A Q&A With Doug Vagle

Chris Colvin on October 9, 2018

Doug Vagle is founder and lead pastor of The Waters Church (Assemblies of God) in Sartell, Minnesota. He is also the Minnesota District Council church planting director.

INFLUENCE: How did The Waters Church get started?
I was approached by Roger Stacy, who was the district church planting director before me. He asked, “Have you ever thought about church planting?” I told Roger “no” right away. Church planting terrified me! I thought it was the last thing I would ever do.

Ultimately, God worked on my heart. I realized fear was the only reason I wasn’t opening my heart and mind to the possibility of planting. We had three children at the time, all under the age of 8, and the security of being on staff at an established church made sense to us.

But God burdened us for Sartell, Minnesota. When we visited Sartell for the first time, the thought was that we just needed to get in the community. We finally took the greatest leap and started the greatest journey of our lives. That’s when God really started opening doors for us.

“We finally took the greatest leap and started the greatest journey of our lives.”
— Doug Vagle

So The Waters Church was the open door. How has it led to other church plants?
We started the church 11 years ago. We decided on a multiplication plan of planting one church a year beginning in our third year. But we had also just begun the process of purchasing a new building. It was a miracle from God that we were able to even do that! God put it on us to tithe the funds we raised for the building project. So we put it toward church planting.

Beginning that year and each year after, we’ve been planting or helping to plant one church a year. We’re getting ready to launch our eighth church early next year. God showed us that from our one building He could do something amazing all over. The first Sunday in our new facility we laid hands on John Velsor and his wife and launched them to start their own church, North Star Community Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

How has your experience at The Waters Church prepared you to lead other church planters?
I realized the best way to fill the role as church planting director was to remain in my position as an active multiplier. Instead of coming on full time, I asked to raise up a lead team around me all around the state.

My goal is to connect every church planter in Minnesota to someone else who’s somewhere along the journey themselves. People need to hear from others who have been there and have kept at it and know what they’re going through.

I’ve always viewed leaders the same way I do money. The less ownership I have and the looser the grip I hold, the more God will bless it. When you raise up leaders and send them out, God will not just fill the gap they left but will bless and expand it. I’m not saying it’s easy to give up any leader, but we’re all part of the same church planting family, after all.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 edition of Influence magazine.


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