Rick Stedman and his wife Amy, and their children moved to Rocklin in the summer of 1993. Feeling called by the Lord to plant a church in the Rocklin/Roseville area, they worked with the Northern Christian Evangelistic Association (NCEA) to take those first steps to building Adventure Christian Church. Adventure held their first services on Easter 1994 at Rocklin High School. Twenty years later, Adventure Christian Church has been blessed beyond anything he could have imagined.
Here in Rick’s own words is the amazing story of Adventure Christian Church…
No one was more surprised by it than me. Honestly, when I came to town, I had no staff, no mother church and no land. I had raised some support and had met a few people in this area, but really had no core group. I just expected to meet people and love people one at a time and have a church that would grow slowly. Coming to town, I really struggled, because I didn’t feel comfortable with knocking on doors or making telephone calls, because personally I didn’t like it when people did that to me uninvited. So I needed to meet some people. I didn’t have money for direct mailers and instead felt that what God wanted me to do was to minister to and help people. So I picked one real need in communities – how to keep kids off of drugs – and I wrote a pamphlet, How to Drug Proof Your Kids.
I got permission from Wal-Mart, Lucky’s and Bel-Air and a few other stores, and set up a little card table in front of the stores. That was our first facility – a card table that had a sign that said “How to Drug Proof Your Kids” free booklets, sponsored by Adventure Christian Church – no donations accepted. I sat out in front of these stores for a few days and figured it was a win-win situation. If someone came and they were already part of a church or weren’t interested in church, it didn’t matter – I just wanted to help them keep their kids off of drugs. And if I met someone who didn’t go to a church and they were interested, I would give them some information about Adventure. But my main concern was to help keep kids off of drugs and to help families. That is how we started Adventure Christian Church.
I thought that I would sit behind that table for years and that I would be known as the pastor of that little church who sits behind those little tables. In a few days, though, I had enough people to follow up on and I just began loving those people one at a time. Then they started inviting their friends. I haven’t had a chance yet to put my table back out, but someday I will. As the people I met, through sitting at the card table, began to grow, I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” And I felt God responded, “Well, let’s start with what you do know how to do.” Well, not much. I have never started a church before. I have started ministries before – youth ministries, college ministries, couple’s ministries, singles’ ministries, remarried ministries and men’s ministries – but I haven’t started a church before. So I said, “Well, Lord, all I have done is start ministries.” And I almost felt like God reached out and knocked me on the head, “McFly, McFly think about this.” Oh, you want me to start ministries!
So we started ministries. After I met a few people from the Wal-Mart table, I gathered those people into four different groups and in January 1994 launched on Monday nights a couples ministry, on Wednesday nights a singles ministry, on Thursday mornings a men’s ministry and on Tuesday afternoons a senior’s ministry. I had met a couple seniors who wanted to get involved so we met on Tuesday afternoons. We started by singing hymns and then we studied the Bible. And that’s how we got started with those four groups. We have always been a ministry driven church.
We rented rooms for those four groups at Maidu community center in Roseville. Early on another miracle happened, when Rocklin High School agreed to have us use their cafeteria to hold services starting on Easter Sunday. We didn’t have money for a big mailer to get the word out, so again we just trained the people in those four ministry areas to invite their friends. We had our opening with about 250 people – and we were off and running.
From day one I knew I couldn’t compete in terms of fancy stuff. I’m not a drama guy, I’m not at all musical, so all I could do was love people one at a time. That’s what I committed to. I was and am committed to loving every person who walks through our doors. That really comes from my heart as a father. I have 3 kids and have realized that some day they are going to grow up and move away. And I often think to myself, when they move away and go to someone else’s church, how are they going to be treated when they walk through the doors? Are they just going to be another number in some guy’s church or are they treated as valuable? Will the Pastor even know their names? So from day one, every person that walks through the doors I say to myself, “That’s someone’s kid and I want to love that person like I want my kids to be loved someday.” And I train my staff and leaders to do that – that’s what we do – we love people one at a time.
Every week, I ask the staff, “Tell me one person who has come to know the Lord this week, one person you met with, one parent you talked to.” What I have learned is that if you love people one at a time they add up after awhile. So our whole church is organized for that. But, I also personally make a real effort at it.
I still try to memorize names and I don’t get them all, but I get a few every week and those add up. Plus, I really knew that God wanted me to love people one at a time and He wanted me to teach the Bible. I really, basically, am a Bible teacher and an evangelist and I just love helping people to learn the Bible. It’s by far the most thrilling book I have studied and I used to teach philosophy at the university, so I have read many books. But still I really feel that the Bible is the most incredible, most congruent, most insightful book ever written.
There are four things that from the beginning have built our church. We love people one at a time, we teach the Bible, we connect people to God in prayer and worship and we train people to invite their friends.
The next step in our amazing story was to look for land. But in 1993/1994 there was a real recession. Being a non-denominational church the only land we could afford was in an industrial zone. We found one piece that had power lines going over one corner, and industries didn’t want it because of that. We thought we could put a parking lot under the lines. We had our first capital funds campaign the week after we turned one year old, and we raised funds to purchase the land. It was just an astounding thing for our baby church to do – I mean we hardly knew one another, yet we were stepping out in faith. And then the city actually came to us and held an emergency zoning ordinance revision meeting. They decided that they really didn’t want a school and a church in that corner of the industrial zone. We felt it was persecution. We hired an attorney and our engineers met – and when the big city council meeting came – we presented our case. I felt we had a valid case, because right across the street there were houses and schools and things. But bottom line, some of the businesses in the area were not in support and the council voted 5-0 against us.
The council voted 5-0 against us. Now I told the church the week before what our major goal was here – God has not called us to build buildings, God has called us to honor Jesus Christ by our lives and actions. So if this meeting goes the wrong way I don’t want anyone to get out of control. So if you don’t have your anger under control you are not invited to this meeting, because we want to honor Jesus Christ. The council voted 5-0 against us at this meeting and I was just crushed. But I knew in my spirit that God wanted me to say something. I leaned over to the attorney and asked if after they’re done voting, before they take a recess would I have a chance to speak? And he said, “No.” Well would they stop me if I stood up to speak?” And with concern in his eyes he said, “Probably not, but what are you going to say?” I said, “I have no idea, but I am praying.”
There is a Scripture that says God will give us the words to speak when we stand before the magistrates and counsels. Well I said, “Lord if that Scripture ever applied it is now. Please inspire me.” I jumped to my feet and said, “Please there is just something I have got to say before everyone leaves. The city council said, “Okay, what?” Well, I am praying and waiting for inspiration and inspiration didn’t come so I thought, “Okay, I’ll stall. I’ll give God a little time and thank everyone there.”
So I thanked the Mayor for the time that he spent with this. I knew he was a busy man and he graciously gave us his time. Still no inspiration. So I thanked each of the city council members by name. Still no inspiration. I thanked the city attorney, the city manager, and I thanked the head planner. And I saw that when I thanked the head planner, a wonderful woman, I saw that she teared up a little bit. I knew God was doing something but I had just run out of people to thank. And I said, “That’s all I have to say. We are a new church in town and we are going to work hard with you to make this a wonderful place to live and we look forward to working with you in the future.” And I went to sit down. Then the mayor said to me, “Don’t sit down”. So I jumped back to my feet. And then he said these words, which I will never forget…
“We want your church in our town. We have never met a church like yours before. “
“How can we help you find and build a church home?” I said, “I don’t know. You just passed a law stating that we cannot build on the property we own.” And he said, “Well, would you consider a swap or a trade?” And I said, “Of course, but it would have to be the same price, because we are non-denominational so there are no “deep pockets” anywhere. Same price (and then the inspiration began to come), same freeway access, same visibility, same size and different zoning. It can’t be industrial since you just passed that law.” And they said, “That’s fine, we’ll work with you.” Do you know that night they set up a sub-committee of the city council whose only task was to help us find another site. Now do you know any other city in the whole country where the city council helped a church find a better spot?
That’s what is called a miracle. Now, honestly, I thought they were just posturing and I thought that it would die in committee and that nothing would happen. So I was shocked when two weeks later they called our offices, they had a highlighted map and they said here are some sites. I saw the site on Stanford Ranch Road and I asked if this site here was available? They said, “Well, it actually is urban reserve, but we will consider rezoning it for you and your church.” Well, that’s just a modern day miracle. So we went down that road and we worked with the developer and sold our other parcel. And we ended up with a pretty cool site.
The site is 41 acres, right on Stanford Ranch Road. 38-39 acres are buildable. I have had friends from across the country come to visit and say it is the finest church site they have seen anywhere. I drive up there on Sunday mornings and other days during the week and think to myself, “Am I in the right place?”
Since that time we built our 1st phase which was our Administration Building and our Pre-school building. The Admin building currently houses our offices on the 2nd floor, and the nursery and Youth auditorium on the 1st floor. (The Youth Auditorium was our original auditorium for our main services when we first moved on to the site in 1999). In September 2003, we completed our 3000 seat auditorium, which was our 2nd phase of building and where we now hold our worship services and larger events. In August 2010, we added our latest building when we completed the Children’s ministry and K-8 school building. We have been so tremendously blessed by the Lord, and are enjoying this beautiful facility.
So that’s our story. We are now 20 years old and continue to grow and expand, in our buildings, our congregation, our ministries and our compassion outreach to the communities. One day at a time God has blessed us and we will continue to love people one at a time, teach people the Word of God, connect people to God in prayer and worship and train people to love others.
Knowing God is truly life’s greatest Adventure!