Virginia church continues replanting legacy, partners with ‘Fishersville Faithful’ to see revival


Twenty people. No pastor. One nearly empty parking lot. A baptistry that hadn’t been filled in five years. That was what was left of Fishersville Baptist Church by the fall of 2022.

But, the Virginia congregation Pastor Chris Smith has dubbed “the Fishersville Faithful” wasn’t about to give up.

Chris’ home church at the time, Crosslink Community Church, sat a town away from Fishersville Baptist and had lived through some tough times of their own. In the early 2000s, what was then Faith Bible Church dwindled down to several dozen until the church was replanted as Crosslink Community Church in 2009. In his five years on staff at Crosslink, Chris had witnessed God steadily grow the congregation from several hundred to a regular attendance of 1,000.

For several years, Crosslink had been having conversations about taking steps toward planting a church, but they weren’t sure what exactly that should look like.

“What we began to realize,” says Matthew Kirkland, lead pastor at Crosslink, “was that while we had a heart for church planting, we also recognized that there’s a lot of churches in need like we were in the early 2000s, and that’s where things began to be set into motion, and God confirmed that He had a plan to use us in this.”

In the aftermath of Covid-19, Crosslink’s Rob Spencer, started a pulpit supply ministry to support churches in the Shenandoah Valley that had been left without a pastor. That pulpit supply ministry just happened to be the reason Chris met Rob.

Chris still remembers the first time he walked through the parking lot and into Fishersville Baptist Church. “I think it was my third time ever preaching,” he says. “But when I walked in the building, I felt at home, and the Lord brought a sense of peace and calm. That was the beginning of the confirmation of my calling there.”

In the months that followed, the leadership team at Fishersville Baptist asked Crosslink Community Church to consider starting a new work in their facility. So, in a way that only God could align, the church plant Crosslink had been praying to be a part of for years, just so happened to be a church replant.

Two hundred people and growing. A thriving leadership team with Chris as pastor. A parking lot that the surrounding community has seen bubble to life. Sixteen baptisms since last fall. That’s just a glimpse of Fishersville Community Church these days.

“It’s overwhelming to think about how God’s worked,” says Chris. “It’s far beyond what I anticipated would be the case.”

During the Sending Service for Fishersville Community Church, Lead Pastor Chris Smith shares his heart for the new church replant.

But the new work at Fishersville couldn’t have happened without a posture of open hands. In preparation for the replant’s launch, Crosslink sent out 35 of their members to help with the church replant, some of whom were leading ministries at Crosslink.

“I remember telling the Lord, ‘We’re trusting you here,’” recalls Pastor Matthew. “Our very next membership vote, we welcomed in 59 new members.”

“If the Lord is leading you to send,” he continues, “even though there’s change and it seems hard, God can do greater things than we could ever do if we just keep holding on tightly with our hand.”

For Matthew and Chris, being a part of the family of churches in Send Network has been pivotal in their roles as a sending church pastor and planter.

“What I love was the opportunity to meet with other sending pastors while Chris was getting trained and assessed, says Matthew.” “To be all together in one room to discuss, plan and pray was vitally important because we didn’t just hear information, we built further relationships and that’s why there’s now ongoing conversations.”

Chris, who has 20 years of camp ministry experience but has never planted a church, says the support and training provided by Send Network spurred his confidence in God’s calling. “I now have an entire network I can reach out to,” he shares, “people who have been through the process of church planting or are going through it right now with me.”

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