EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an expanded article based on the 2020 Cooperative Program Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. For more information, please visit www.oklahomabaptists.org/cp.
Charles Scheffe had been in children’s ministry for 10 years in the Edmond area when he sensed God leading him to start a church. He learned the North American Mission Board had done the hard work of narrowing down potential cities by identifying 32 especially underchurched metropolitan areas across North America.
Some of the 32, he noted, suffered more winter cold than he wanted. But not Phoenix.
“It’s gorgeous out here,” Scheffe said “They have mountains, palm trees, warm weather and a city of 5 million people. Maybe one out of 10 go to an evangelical church. Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in U.S., and it’s in the top five for ‘least biblically-minded’ cities.”
Scheffe narrowed down various church-planting options in Phoenix to Estrella Mountain Ranch, a 20,000-acre planned community southeast of Interstate-10 that was established in 2004. Today it has 6,000 homes, 22,000 residents and two churches.
The Church at Estrella, launched in January 2018, meets at Westar Elementary School. About 125 attend each Sunday morning. Edmond, First is the church plant’s primary sponsor; Oklahoma City, Southern Hills is a secondary sponsor. In all, a half-dozen Oklahoma churches and Capital Association provide financial, hands-on and/or prayer support.
“Our goal this year is to be self-supporting,” Scheffe said. “We focus a lot on community engagement and involvement.
“We work diligently in investing in our community,” the planter/pastor continued. “Our plan is to build disciples. A church grows out of that.”
When the church, along with Oklahoman teams, did a survey of the Phoenix area, they found an interesting discovery. “Some had moved here intentionally to get away from church culture,” Scheffe said. “They’re from just everywhere. It makes for a massive melting pot.”
What Scheffe learned is, “If you approach people with humility—not arrogance—you can have some incredible Gospel conversations.”
Charles and his wife Stefanie have two young daughters, Addisyn and Londyn.
Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together. Learn more at www.oklahomabaptists.org/CP