By Carl Stagner
Four families composed Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) when it began in 1982. It didn’t take long, however, for the church plant to outgrow the pastor’s Phoenix-area house, and numerous temporary sanctuaries in the years since. A movie theater, strip mall, school, and a giant tent were among the gathering places of CCV attendees until they were so numerous that one location couldn’t contain the crowds or their enthusiasm to take the gospel across the whole metropolitan area. In 2017, Don Wilson accepted his new divine assignment to channel what he’s learned to help other local churches and pastors thrive. Now the chance to hear from Don is available to the Church of God, an upcoming opportunity you won’t want to miss.
The average weekly attendance among all seven campuses today is over 25,000, but CCV is no ordinary megachurch. Discipleship ministries, neighborhood small groups, local and international missions, leadership development, community service, and utilization of spiritual gifts among members are central to the church’s identity. Don Wilson wouldn’t have it any other way. He remembers the great challenges the church faced when in its humble infancy, yet today he understands firsthand the complexities of multi-site expansion and strategy. So, after transitioning away from the pulpit, Don doesn’t diminish his impact, but extends his reach exponentially by focusing on pastors.
“Accelerate Group was started to address the unique needs of pastors and wives involved in full-time ministry,” Don explains. “I was shocked to learn that between 80 and 90 percent of pastors leave the ministry in the first five years. I want to do everything I can to lower that statistic and help pastors stay engaged for the long haul. I have worked with churches of all sizes during my ministry at CCV, and have also had to overcome many of the same issues they face to stay at the same church for thirty-five years.”
Such ministry longevity is certainly a feat, but it’s not the only reason churches across the country are watching what Don has done, and continue to watch what CCV is doing. Don and CCV have always been about making disciples, not simply filling seats. Perhaps these facts, combined with Don’s prioritization of family, are what make him one of the most respected leaders in the Southwest.
“I love investing in pastors and churches,” Don explains. “All three of my children are in full-time ministry, and several of my grandchildren are now in college, preparing for ministry. So, my wife and I have a special place in our hearts for pastors. I pray that the church leaders will come away from the Church of God Regional Conventions encouraged, motivated, and challenged to grow their church to impact their communities for Christ.”
Hear Don Wilson at the Church of God Regional Convention in Phoenix, April 17–18, and/or Oklahoma City, April 24–25. To learn more and register, visit www.chogconvention.org. NOTE: Early-bird registration expires after February 15 for Phoenix, and February 22 for Oklahoma City. Act quickly for the best rates!