From Founding Pastor, Joel Midthun
Come, all who are thirsty,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
And your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
And your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
When I was called by St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Elk Grove to start a new church in the Laguna area in 1999, these were the verses that God gave me. He showed me the people of this area, how we have been blessed with so much money and material things but are still thirsty for something more. We try to find satisfaction in our possessions, family, work, or play, but at the end of the day we are still searching for the answer to the big question: Why am I here?
It was only after God had spent many years working on my heart that I was ready and willing to risk starting a new church. I’ll never forget one man on the church plant committee saying to me: “Joel, I’ve been praying about a pastor for the new church and I keep seeing your face.” I told him to keep praying hoping God would show him a different face. Needless to say, God finally convinced me.
It was 7 a.m. on a cold, gray Easter morning in 1999 when Living Water Church held its first church service. We were surprised to find 170 people at Laguna Town Hall for church that day. It began an exciting year as we became a close family experiencing new things together.
Since that spring day, we have literally been a church on the move! Our tongue-in-cheek motto used to be, “If you can find us, you can worship with us.” We moved from Laguna Town Hall into Joseph Sims Elementary in October 1999. During the summer of 2003, the school moved us out into the quad under a tent so they could conduct repairs. During the summer of 2004, the school again needed extensive repairs, so we moved to Oasis Ministry Center, a 2,000 square foot facility in West Laguna that we had we used weekdays for Bible studies and youth group.
Much to our surprise, in September 2004, God opened up a new door for us when we were informed that our church was at the top of the list to rent a brand new centrally located community facility in Elk Grove that came complete with a carpeted ballroom and padded chairs. We didn’t need to be asked twice. We spent the next five years meeting Sundays at the Barbara Morse Wackford Community and Aquatic Center. It was a wonderful place to meet.
In July, 2009, God surprised us again when we were contacted by a representative of a local property management company telling us they had an 8,400+ square foot church-ready facility and were calling churches using listings in the phone book to find a new tenant. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Within four days, we visited the property, approved further dialogue with the leasing company at a regularly scheduled Elders meeting, and scheduled an informational meeting with the members. Less than two weeks from the date of the first phone call, we signed a lease and made plans to move in.
Our membership was very excited and supportive of the move, which took us out of the Laguna area and into the area that has come to be known as East Elk Grove. We are certain of the blessing of having a facility to call our church home. For the first time since our beginning, our Sunday worship, our youth and adult programs, and our offices are located under the same roof.
We are blessed to be able to say that, with God's continued provision, you will be able to find us at the northwest corner of Waterman Road and Dino Drive at 9766 Waterman Road, Suite F in East Elk Grove. Come worship with us.
God has gifted us with talented musicians and vocalists and we are passionate about worship through music. Meeting together in study and fellowship are essential elements of our growth as Jesus’ disciples and as members of the Living Water family, so our calendar is full of opportunities. We are serious about reaching out and will continue to send adults and youth alike into our communities and into other countries to minister to the needs of the ‘least of these’ that Jesus describes in scripture.
During our first fifteen years, we have experienced the joy of seeing people of all ages come to faith in Jesus. We’ve baptized lots of babies and almost as many adults. We have seen miraculous healings and heard testimonies of journeys into healing. We’ve experienced the pain of loss of members through death and also the pain of loss of members that have moved and that God has sent out into their own ministries.
In July of 2017, my wife, Stephanie and I became the most recent family to be called out of Living Water into full-time missionary life in Tanzania, Africa where we are working to eradicate the evil of sex-trafficking through rescue and education. (See www.courageworldwide.org for more information.)
As we were preparing to step down, we strongly felt that - for just such as time as this - God had called Associate Pastor Rob Lane to step in as our new Lead Pastor. Our Elders and members warmly endorsed and blessed the decision. On Sunday, July 9, 2017, we held a joint co-missioning service; sending Stephanie and I off with the prayers and blessings of our church family and at the same time, handing off the 'chief's baton', praying for and blessing Pastor Rob Lane and his wife, Cara, in their new roles.
Our vision as a church has always been and continues to be three simple things:
- Glorify God by worshiping him with all we are.
- Grow in Christ by studying the Bible, Prayer, and Fellowship.
- Go in the power of the Holy Spirit to touch our church, community and the world.
Pastor Joel Midthun
Founding Pastor of Living Water Church