Converge MidAtlantic, on February 26, 2017, will celebrate the birth of Wellspring Church, Toms River, New Jersey. In a population of nearly 100,000, where just under 8 percent have a church home, Jason and Ava Coache saw the need. And although Jason is the first to admit their transition from youth ministry to church planting was a reluctant one, they are excited about how the Lord will use them and their team in this largely unchurched region.
“My wife and I never aspired to any of this,” Jason says. “But through the counsel of many, God kept speaking to us, encouraging us to consider this new ministry.”
Jason’s journey has not been without its challenges, but he clearly sees the Lord’s hand throughout. For one year during college Jason interned as a youth pastor in a local church.
“But then I let things about life embitter me,” he said. “I retreated to be near family and “pow-wow with God. And that’s where God laid me out and got my attention.”
Six months later, the pastor of Bayside Chapel, a non-denominational church in Barnegat, New Jersey, contacted Jason. Bayside’s pastor is the brother of the pastor of the church where Jason had interned.
“A month later, I had my first big boy ministry position,” Jason says. “I became youth pastor at Bayside Chapel, and there’s really no way I should’ve gotten this job. It was God.”
Four years ago, Bayside Chapel amended their vision statement to incorporate their heart for church planting, and since then they have raised up their first planter from within. In February, this church of 1000 will send its youth pastor of eight years to begin this new work.
“And by and large,” Jason says, “The transition has been great, it’s been celebrated and very well received.”
For Jason and Ava, it’s been a long, but important, process between calling and launching. They attended Converge’s Church Planter Assessment Center in November 2014, after which they felt the Lord confirm in their lives what others had been identifying. They’ve since attended Converge MidAtlantic’s annual church planters training event, and Jason has been receiving regular coaching from pastor Tim Broughton (New Hope Church, Wooster, Ohio).
They are glad for the church planting resources available through Converge MidAtlantic and look forward to how their months of preparation will translate into successful launch and long-term ministry.
Lee Stephenson, executive director of Converge Church Planting, says this is what church planting is all about.
“Not only has Jason served faithfully in his time at Bayside, Bayside Chapel is moving forward with their desire to be a church planting church by sending Jason and Ava as their first planters,” he said. “We celebrate this new work on the East Coast. Jason and Ava’s courage and willingness to start a church to touch a community with the gospel continues the legacy that has been Converge Church Planting for the past 160 years.”
Allison Hurtado, Writer
Allison Hurtado is assistant director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Central Florida.