Small-town church plant embraces children, seniors and dogs navigating life

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

The people of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, have been finding life beside a river since the town’s earliest days.  

The moving waters have supplied food and the foundation of an economy. Today, outdoor delights include hiking on numerous trails, fishing, riverboat cruises and visiting The Overlook for sightseeing. 


“Much of what happens around here is a part of the St. Croix River,” said Brad Moore, who moved to the community a few years ago. 


Less than a year ago, yet another gift related to water came to the town of 2000: Living Waters Community Church. Moore and his wife, Jayne, are church planters who lead the congregation’s launch team. 


 “Living water is what wells up in here and allows us to have abundant life,” he said. “The river is extremely important to them so it was an immediate tie.” 


The Wisconsin natives launched the church in September 2023 after decades of ministry in established churches. Years ago, Moore and other pastors prayed for a dozen years that someone would start a church in St. Croix Falls.  


“We became the answer to what we’d been praying about,” Moore added. 


Related: A church planters assessment will show you if you’re the answer to someone’s prayer. 


New church is getting its name out thanks to a central location 

Sandy Erickson and her husband, Roger, were thrilled to learn God steered the Moores to St. Croix Falls as church planters. They’d met the Moores 15 years before but didn’t talk regularly. That is until the Ericksons heard about the church meeting at the Moores’ house. 


“We got the biggest hugs when they opened the door,” Erickson said. “It was a surprise for all of us.” 


The church now meets in the town’s senior center, an excellent base for worship, fellowship and community service. The center is in the rural town’s core and across the street from The Overlook, which attracts crowds eager to see the St. Croix River. 


Related: The churches in small towns have significant promise for the kingdom. 


Jayne Moore has two particular passions for serving God through the church. First, she yearns to serve children; second, she embraces seniors just as much with the heart of Christ. 


In April, the church hosted families with children so the kids could create May Day crafts. Then, the church’s volunteers took the May Day baskets to seniors living alone or with  financial challenges. 


Living Waters ministers to children inside and outside the church. On Sundays, the church has activity kits and a children’s sermon to help young people learn in the same room as adults. The church also reaches beyond its building by giving activity bags to children at adult events like town festivals, river overlooks and concerts around the community. 


“That gives us a way to talk to some of the adults and get our names out,” Moore said. “It’s really important for us to take advantage, because we’re so small, of anything happening around our area.” 


Related: The Grove loves their rural town and supports all the community events they can.  


Dog bones offer divine opportunities in St. Croix Falls 

St. Croix Falls has primarily attracted stable, blue-collar families who love the outdoors and the artistic, eclectic community maintained by a very active theater and music scene. Hiking trails lead out of the town and go all the way to Minnesota or across Wisconsin. 


For all the delights of the wonderful town, many people also have significant spiritual needs. Yet the down-to-earth, casual, good people around him don’t always know what to do. He said people are often broken by life challenges or stuck in a life they wish they could change. 


“They know they have something more to their life, but they have reached some kind of barrier, block, or roadblock and are just not able to take that next step,” he said. “We are hoping that we can give them that next step.” 


Others in the town want to make a difference, stop certain behaviors or overcome specific struggles. But they don’t yet know how important God can be in a person’s life. 


Yet Moore is optimistic and excited about the spiritual opportunities for this town beside the river. He knows a new life is possible because Jesus gives living water. Then Moore shared how John 7 says the Holy Spirit brings forth living water from believers. 


The work of God for thousands of years continues in this small Wisconsin town where the Lord’s people offer new and familiar ways to make Christ known. Living Waters has seen more return visitors in recent months, as well as anonymous donations and tables, chairs and a soundboard from neighboring churches. 


The people of St. Croix Falls treasure their dogs and delight in walking them on the area’s many paths. That gave Moore an idea: the church could craft high-quality dog bones to give to dog owners. 


“This’ll be a great way to start a conversation with them,” he said. “There’s probably not many ministries to dogs, but we’re giving it a shot with some dog treats to see how we might engage people.” 


Converge's 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years. 

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene