For 10 years, The Ransom Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has been making an impact on the spiritual climate of the 57104, 57105 and 57108 ZIP codes. This fall, a new campus will expand its impact to include the 57106 and 57107 ZIP codes.

The church hopes to impact even more postal codes in the next 10 years by adding another strategy to its ministry mix: being a church planting resource and training center.

The additional strategy was initiated when Ransom leaders began asking God what was next for the church. When Rev. Phill Tague, lead pastor at Ransom, and Rev. Cody Tupps, south campus pastor, realized God had been speaking to both of them separately about the same strategy, they knew it was time to follow God’s leading and act.

“We’ve been growing for nine years and have done what we needed to do to be successful,” said Tague. He was struck by the number of individuals who’ve checked “no religious affiliation” on past censuses. In 2008, the number was around 33 percent; in the most recent census in 2018, the number climbed to 58 percent.

“This left me with a sense that, even at our best efforts at addition growth, we can’t make a dent,” Tague said. “We have to multiply.”

As a response, the leadership of The Ransom Church is launching a church planting residency program, which they’ve named Awaken. Awaken includes two key pieces:

  • A two-year, post-graduate residency program
  • A one-year, assessment-based church planting cohort

A major program component of Awaken is equipping “launchable leaders” by assessing them and spending a year with them in specialized training. A launchable leader is identified as “someone who has minimum requirements, but with high accountability, needed in launching a church.” The Ransom Church has committed to raising up 100 launchable leaders through Awaken in the next five years. And not just leaders from Northwest District, where Ransom is located.

Tague and Tupps see this program as being a win for the entire movement of The Wesleyan Church. Tupps, who serves as Awaken director, explains why he is so passionate about this program moving beyond Northwest District walls.

“I am a second-career pastor and a former vice president of a bank, who transitioned into ministry,” said Tupps. “I believe all avenues of education are important as is equipping people. We want to offer a hands-on experience for students to put the legs on everything they’ve learned.”

Leaders participating in the Awaken program will spend a year at Ransom immersed in learning about church planting, then return to their own districts to plant churches.

Over the next two years, The Ransom Church plans to “work out kinks” of the program and then make it available for other churches to use.

“We want Awaken to be a blue print and let churches use it however it fits them,” said Tupps.

“We don’t have all the answers, but we want to help,” said Tague. “We’re not trying to build a kingdom at Ransom. We’re simply trying to do something that God has equipped us to do in training leaders and want to make that available on a larger spectrum.”

“It’s an exciting day in the kingdom of God when a church leader grasps a bigger vision of multiplication that transcends their local church,” said Dr. Ed Love, director of Church Multiplication for The Wesleyan Church. “It is so encouraging to watch The Ransom Church apply their leadership development path to bless the church planting movement. The Ransom Church’s time, talent and treasure being invested in the kingdom is awe-inspiring!”

Love states there are currently eight church planting residencies across the United States.

For more information on Awaken, click here.