By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NEWPORT — When Steve Tiebout became the founding pastor of The River Church, a new plant in Cookeville more than 20 years ago, he never envisioned the church growing to an average attendance of 1,200 to 1,400 people in three worship services.
In his mind, the church would always stay between 200 and 300 people and when that was exceeded, the church would send out members to start another church.
“I really thought we could stay between 200 and 300 people by planting churches every two years, but it seemed like the more churches we planted, the more God sent people to us. We could not outgive God,” Tiebout said.
In 20 years the church has birthed or “adopted” 16 congregations that are still operating, Tiebout said, noting that in some instances, the church came alongside a pastor who had felt called to start a church, but did not have a sponsoring or “mother” church. [Read more…]