A beautiful chain reaction grows Minneapolis church

Atypical is what it was. Door hangers and block parties and mass mailers and email blasts and Facebook ads and radio spots — these are the typical mass marketing tools of the church planter’s trade. However, a few years back, when Sam Choi and his friends started All Peoples Church in Minneapolis, Minn., they discovered that their simplest, cheapest and most effective publicity tool was word of mouth.

“We didn’t do any conventional advertising,” Sam says. “All we did was tell people, ‘Come and see’ because that’s what happened in the gospels. Someone encountered Jesus, then they went and told someone, ‘Come and see what I’ve found.’ Then that someone went and told someone else, and it kept going on and on until it became this beautiful chain reaction.”

North American missionary Sam Choi and a team of other local pastors started All Peoples Church in Minneapolis.

Elizabeth Efteland came first. Somehow, that made sense. Elizabeth was, after all, the good girl in her family. “When I was little, church was like my second home,” she says. “But then in college, it got confusing and hard. People asked me questions, and I didn’t have any answers. So I started thinking, ‘Do I really believe this stuff? Is what I’ve been told really true?’”

Slowly but surely, Elizabeth began to lose her faith. “I ended up in a super lonely place. It was so hard,” she says. “I couldn’t find anybody who could help me, and I got so frustrated with everything.”

“Come and see.” That simple invitation from a friend is all it took to get Efteland to attend one of the first worship services for All Peoples Church. “I figured I’d visit once just to be polite,” she says. “But something happened.”

Elizabeth started attending All Peoples Church every Sunday. She heard the gospel, gave her life to Christ and was baptized.

“Then slowly but surely, the Holy Spirit started doing a work in her,” says Sam. “She became someone who wanted to tell other people, ‘Come and see.’”

Johnny Efteland came next. Johnny is Elizabeth’s little brother and reclamation project. “I adore that kid,” she says. “And I always had this idea that I was supposed to be the person who fixed all his problems.”

That was an extremely ambitious desire because Johnny, a drug abusing, prolifically promiscuous heavy metal musician, had a sizable number of problems that needed fixing. “Back then, I was in a super dark place,” Johnny says. “I always deep down kind of knew there was a God, but I just really didn’t care. I just wanted to do my own thing.”
Elizabeth will never forget what happened when she told her brother, “’Come and see.’ He told me, ‘Sure, I’ll come visit with you, but I’m not planning on sticking around.’ But he showed up at church that next Sunday, and if you would’ve told me how things would go down after that, I never would’ve believed it.”

Johnny came to All Peoples Church, heard the gospel and decided to follow Jesus. “I’d been such a horrible person,” he says. “But a lot of times, someone you think would be the last person to follow God — all you have to do is just reach out your hand, and they’ll take it, you know what I mean?”

The reaction continued and Nolan Nielsen was next. Nolan was Johnny’s long-time, wingman. “I didn’t do drugs, but I drank a lot and had lots of unhealthy relationships with women,” Nolan says. “I was just running as far and as fast as I could to live this lifestyle I thought would make me happy. And the harder I ran and the more I partied, the emptier I felt.”

“Come and see.” That’s what Johnny told Nolan. It was the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, the first Easter after Johnny had made his decision to follow Christ. “It was two in the morning,” Johnny says. “It was just me and him at his house and he was asking me all these questions about God and the Bible. And I was just like, ‘Hey, it’s Easter, dude. Just come to church.’”

“He just wouldn’t let it go,” Nolan says. “I think he could see that I was sick and tired of feeling lonely and empty. And so yeah, I just said, ‘Ok. Let’s go to church.’”

A sleep-deprived Nolan showed up at All Peoples Church the next morning — Easter morning — and “It was powerful,” he says. “They talked about the gospel, and I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want. This is what I need.’”

“One Sunday not long ago, Johnny Efteland (right) and Nolan Nielsen (left) were baptized together.”

Johnny and Nolan were baptized on the same day, and it was beautiful — just like Sam said it’d be.

This beautiful chain reaction brought Elizabeth, Johnny and Nolan to Christ. By engaging their city first, All Peoples Church planted and organically grew a new church.

“Now our church is almost 100 percent grown through ‘come and see’,” Sam says. “And the unbelieving world can’t help but look at us and say, ‘Wow, Jesus is real, and the gospel really can transform lives.’”

To learn how your church can plant more churches by engaging cities across North America, visit SendNetwork.com/Mobilize.

Published May 23, 2024

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