It was January of 1980 when the Pavlu family moved to Church Point, Louisiana to pastor the 13-member congregation in a little white, wood-framed building on the north end of town. “I had always told friends that I would never pastor in a Catholic community in south Louisiana, but God thought differently,” said Bro. Rick Pavlu.
The Starting Point
Church Point is a small Catholic community located in south Louisiana, a surrounding which Bro. Pavlu was very accustomed to. He was raised in Jennings, Louisiana, a predominately Catholic community in the south. Perhaps this helped him to better understand the people when taking the church in 1980. “You see, I was not born into Pentecost,” he said. “I was Catholic, but from an early age I knew that God had placed a calling on my life; I just wasn’t quite sure what it was. I debated joining the priesthood but had second thoughts during my senior year of high school. Little did I know the plans God had in store for me.”
While at Louisiana Tech University, Bro. Pavlu made a friend by the name of David Rains, who would eventually show him the path to truth. “One night we began to discuss religion. David said that he was not in church but if I wanted truth I needed to go to a Pentecostal church; then he quoted Acts 2:38. I did not believe that scripture was in my Bible at first, but God used a backslider to bring me to truth.” As the saying goes, the rest is history.
Targeting the Point
As a new pastor, Bro. Pavlu began to teach home Bible studies in hopes of growing the church. He said, “I taught 30 Bible studies and did not reach one soul. I remember very vividly the discussion God and I had on a humid Louisiana day while I was mowing my lawn. God simply told me to focus on the type of person I was teaching; I realized everyone I was pursuing was older and settled. I then decided that I would not teach another Bible study until I found someone young.”
God had the exact person in mind. Within a short period of time, a Bible study was set up with a young couple. The young lady began attending services, received the Holy Ghost and was baptized only a few weeks after the Bible study. “She continues to come to church along with her now grown children,” said Pastor Pavlu. “I knew this was the age group I would reach.” The targeted group of Church Point Pentecostals was then set: young married couples.
Once he realized that young married couples were the group that needed to be the focus for outreach in Church Point, Bro. Pavlu met and counseled with the members of the church. “I met with the elders and after a few hours they agreed to allow me to change the church to be geared mainly to attract the ages of young married couples,” he said. “We changed the music to high energy, and people began to come. Within the last 30 years, we have made about five major changes concerning things such as music to best fit the generation we are reaching for.”
By maintaining the focus of reaching young married couples first and foremost, the church has grown by about 100 members in the last three years. Bro. Pavlu states, “In 2014, we had about 40 or 50 converts. Not all of them committed; however, we have already reached those same numbers in 2015 and the year is not over yet!”
Developing the Point
Growing the church has caused many departments to develop that have enhanced Church Point as a whole, including young marrieds, student, children’s, men’s, women’s, community, care, Spanish, music, outreach and CPP Life ministries. Pastor Pavlu said, “CPP Life is our version of a new converts course that evolves around a specialized program known as the 7 Pillars. Our main goal is to reach, retain and establish.”
While establishing various departments to get people involved is awesome, it requires a great leadership team. “As Church Point grew, we established four executive pastors that each oversee about three departments,” he explained. “Each pastor meets with the departments weekly, then each is discussed during a monthly executive committee meeting which I, as the senior pastor, am a part of.”
Developing numerous church departments has proven effective. According to the pastor, about 70 percent of the church body is involved during special events such as vacation Bible school and about 40 percent is involved on a regular basis. “At Church Point Pentecostals we also focus on creating future leaders and ministers,” he said. “This is done through monthly training sessions that focus on building leadership, application to ministry and how to handle one’s calling. We use various materials and books to assist in the training of our ministers. Currently CPP has a group of about 23 men. The majority of them are licensed ministers, known as ‘Iron Men’ that are undergoing training.” It is apparent that the church has grown because of its passion to reach the lost and desire to further evangelism.
Church Point has not only witnessed growth within the congregation but miracles as well. When asked about signs and wonders witnessed in the church, Pastor Pavlu replied, “We have had numerous miracles take place at Church Point Pentecostals throughout the years. There are two in particular that stand out as the greatest in my mind.” He is the father of three, and as a father, he was able to witness a miracle occur in the life of one of his own. He said, “The first miracle is a bit personal. My oldest daughter, Corrie, was a typical college student pursuing a degree in the medical field. During this time, she had to have surgery because her jaw was not growing correctly. She received tainted blood and contracted Hepatitis B during the procedure. Within that instance, her life began to spin off course. We were told that she would not be able to work in the medical field or have children. The church began to pray continuously and the hospital decided that she should receive some type of financial reimbursement. Later, tests were run again to monitor the status of her condition, and no antibodies could be found. The doctor was puzzled and multiple tests were run, but all results returned negative. We even went as far as going back to the original location to run the last set of tests at the request of her doctor. However, the tests still revealed that she no longer had Hepatitis B, which medically an individual cannot be cured of. The doctors could not make sense of the situation, but we knew that the great physician, Jesus, had showed up and showed out.”
Pastor Pavlu recounted another miracle that happened in the life of one of the church’s bus children. “A 12-year-old boy that attended Sunday school on a regular basis was hit by oncoming traffic when crossing the street one day. He was considered brain dead, and the family was encouraged to unplug the machines. The family called the church for prayer even though they had never joined us in service before. The child remained brain dead for 11 days and the family had to make a decision of whether or not to keep him on life support on the 12th day. I can still remember vividly the Wednesday that eight ministers and myself joined together in prayer after service. What we prayed was nothing extravagant; we only asked that God would do something NOW. Within 15 minutes of leaving the church, I received a phone call saying that the boy had opened his eyes and was responding. He continued to improve and was in church with us three months later. He still continues to visit at Church Point Pentecostals. What a mighty God we serve!”
Growth in the Point
It is evident that God has blessed the church tremendously throughout the years. “We started in a small building that consisted of a Sunday school room and a small office,” said Pastor Pavlu. “At the time we were running about 20 members. Numbers increased so we built phase one, a 40 X 100 building, on the other end of town. However, as we continued to grow we decided to build for the future. A 450-seat, hexagon-shaped sanctuary was built in 1985 that included Sunday school rooms. This is our current building, which has just gone through major remodeling such as doubling all classrooms in size and transforming the sanctuary. From the time of the original construction, we have built a family life center as well as recently added new portable buildings for more Sunday school rooms and additional parking.”
The most recent change to the church has come through an interim growth plan. The pastor explained, “We have switched to two morning services in order to accommodate our growth with hopes of doubling our congregation. Once outgrowing our current plan we expect to build a new facility on the 11 acres we own located behind our family life center.”
With expectations high, the future is bright and limitless for Church Point. The church is truly stretching to fulfill the perfect will of God.
The Closing Point
Pastor Pavlu is a district board member and was recently honored with the title of senior board member for the Louisiana district for his numerous years of service. He is also presbyter of Section 3 and has been for the past 29 years. He said, “I guess God likes that I never enjoyed the limelight. Most people would probably be surprised that I never had a desire to be a minister even though I felt called of God. It is ironic because He has placed me in many leadership positions even though I lacked desire. I never really enjoyed large crowds either and now I am a pastor of a church of over 400 members.”
With the mentality of “do everything with excellence and always look for the positives in people,” Church Point continues to change and grow for the glory of God.