New Church Launch: City Church (Griffin, GA)

May 28, 2019

Stadia is proud that 15 new churches have already started in 2019 as a result of called and affirmed leaders partnering with us in our More & Better movement. All of these planters deserve our praise, but we are going to highlight just a few in the next few posts. Join us in covering these planters with prayer as they bring the Kingdom of God to their communities.

What would it look like for a group of people to exhaust their energy, passion, and resources on what they are FOR instead of what they are against?

This simple question has shaped our lives over the past two years in ways we never thought possible.

Ten years ago, my wife and I were introduced to church planting by attending a two-year old plant in McDonough, GA called Momentum Christian Church. After attending for a year, I accepted the call to be on staff as the student pastor at this young church. Seven years and three kids later, after investing in the lives of middle and high school students, my wife and I began to feel like God was doing something new in our hearts. After months of prayer with the leadership of the church, we all agreed that God was calling us to plant a church and that Momentum would be the church to help plant us. As prayer and discussion continued, we felt that God had laid a place on our hearts, an area that was literally ten minutes from our home. The place was Griffin, Georgia.

Based on two passages of Scripture that God clearly gave to us, the idea of City Church began to become a reality. City Church would be the City of God for the City of Griffin, or simply put a Jesus movement that awakens the soul and the city. This was it. This is it. This is what God is calling our family to, to be a church that is for the city, a church that would stop at nothing to see the message of Jesus change the hearts and lives of the people of Griffin, a church that meets people where they are, loves them for who they are, and fights for who they are created to be.

With our sending church being a Stadia plant, we were very familiar with the organization and knew we wanted to partner with them. After attending CPAC in January of 2018, we began to lay a foundation for City Church. Griffin is a very diverse and divided community racially and socio-economically, so the challenge of uniting this city is huge. With Stadia, we received incredible coaching and weekly investment from our project manager. The wisdom, encouragement, and resources that we received in our pre-launch time gave us the tools to create the kind of culture and church God was calling us to plant. In April of 2018, we launched our first point of investment in our community through an Ice Cream Truck. The truck we purchased would be available to any community event that wanted to reserve it completely free of charge (we like to think Stadia got its no-strings attached idea from us!)

We desire to be a community that says “yes” to the needs of our city. This first happened through providing volunteers for established community events, and after a few months, this led to our church being asked to take over Movies in the Park, a monthly event that takes place in the downtown area of our city. At our first Movie in the Park, we had a mother come up to my wife and say, “Thank you for creating a space where I can show my family and kids that is is not only okay, but celebrated, that black and white kids can play together.”

We were onto something. God was up to something.

We have now become the “Movie & Ice Cream Church.” We held the posture of not wanting to re-invent the wheel, but instead add value to what was already happening around us in our City.

As we continued to invest, we began looking forward to launching a Sunday Morning Gathering to invite our city into so that we could truly launch this Jesus movement back into their communities. We had set the date for January 13, 2019. With Stadia’s help, we fundraised, grew our launch team, and worked towards that date.

On December 20, we lost our facility. We knew God was doing something bigger than we could see, but at the time launching anytime in the Winter or Spring seemed dismal. For the next two months, we prayed and searched for another location.



And “No.”

This is what we kept hearing.

In my discouragement, the only two words that I could come up with were “pray” and “advance.” We knew who God had called us to be, so we continued to be for our city. We kept advancing the Kingdom in whatever way God put in front of us. In January, our church was awarded the Citizen of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce, stating, “In the last six months, this group of people have embedded themselves so deeply in our community that we can’t remember what life was like before them.”

Still no location, but God was establishing His church not only among church people, but also in front of business leaders and people of influence.

We kept praying.

We kept advancing.

We received a phone call in the middle of February from a real estate agent asking if we were looking for a church building. Being burned by others before, I hesitantly said, “Yes.”

Five days later, we were signing a lease for a permanent facility that we would fully renovate in 4 weeks!

On March 17, we launched our first Sunday Gathering, and we have not looked back since.

Since Launch Sunday, we have seen individuals and families from our city find a home and a place to belong and slowly be awakened to who Jesus is and what He is calling them to. We have heard stories from:

“I have never attended church before, but I feel like this is where I am supposed to be.”


“Mom, can we come back here everyday?!?!”


“I hate church, but whatever this is, I love it.”


“I want to give my life to Jesus.”

So one word, “FOR.”

It has been the single most powerful, culture-shaping, and Gospel transformative word that God could have embedded in our hearts. We believe that God shows that He is for us all throughout His story. From creating us in His image, to sending His Son to rescue us, to providing a better way for us, He continues to awaken our hearts to who He is. Since He is for us, it is our privilege to be a church that is FOR Jesus, FOR all people, and FOR the city. We believe this is only the start!

God is slowly and miraculously awakening our city by awakening individuals and families to who He is, and we are getting to watch His faithfulness unfold before our very eyes.

City Church Griffin For the City Logo

Josh Abernathy

Lead Planter and Pastor, City Church (Griffin, GA)