“A revival pastor has his priorities in the realm of evangelism, will utilize methods of ‘developing and training,’ and will always be looking for harvest opportunities.” This statement was made by Raymond Woodson of Vancouver, Washington. He and his wife, Jill, have been pastoring at the Vancouver United Pentecostal Church for 31 years. Along with pastoring, Bro. Woodson is currently District Superintendent for the Washington District UPCI.
PRINCIPLES OF GROWTH & REVIVAL
The Vancouver church is perceived as a revival church. Pastor Woodson believes that the most important keys to a growing church are revival inward (discipleship) and outward (vision). “The outreach and evangelism methods used currently in our church include starting and growing discipleship teams, beginning preaching points, and disciples developing new disciples. We also have annual community evangelism events and activities that have brought good results, such as an outdoor Harvest outreach on Halloween. Other methods that have worked well in our church for increasing attendance are door-to-door evangelism, friends and family event invitation mail-outs, home Bible studies, and above all, prayer,” he said.
ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT
The UPC of Vancouver has various departments designed to minister that include Discipleship Teams, Outreach, Home Bible Studies, Sunday School, Youth, Ladies, Men, Homeless Ministries and Church Board/Trustees/Administration. The department or ministry leaders have job descriptions and meet on a monthly basis for staff meetings and to hand in monthly reports.
The pastor hosts several types of planning events with the leaders which include vision casting, detail planning, “bridge” building, promotional projections, team development and activation. Other types of preparation utilized in training the leaders are: personal, selected guest teachers, college opportunities (i.e.: Purpose Institute), discipleship team leader training and On-Site D-Team Involvement.
“Fifty to sixty percent of our members are involved in some form of ministry, and 20 to 25 percent are involved in some form of evangelism,” said Pastor Woodson. “The areas or target groups I consider the ‘focus’ of our ministry are discipleship development and multiplication; establishing and developing preaching points and congregations in our Kingdom realm (Vancouver/Clark County). We promote and encourage involvement mainly through discipleship teams and outreach opportunities, such as homeless, events and preaching point involvements.”
DEEP GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Pastor Woodson spoke of several guiding principles that give his ministry direction and purpose. He noted, “First is confidence in God’s desire to reveal the plan and purpose of His Calling, and His consistent willingness to fulfill it in all whom He calls. Next is clarity in knowing that His Kingdom is the guiding principle in my involvement. Third is ability based on Romans 4:21 ‘….that what He promises, He is able also to perform’ and fourth is assurance that ‘Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever’ [Hebrews 13:8].”
THE MISSION VIEWPOINT
According to Pastor Woodson, some alterations in his personal mission viewpoint have evolved since he has been pastoring. He explained, “When we first came to Vancouver, I had it in my mind that this was a ‘stop in the road’ to our next and more permanent destination. I had no idea where that destination would be, but I believed Vancouver was a temporary training stop. After two years of no growth, I became desperate for revival and told God ‘unless you move me, I will stay here until I die!’ That became the defining moment of our Vancouver ministry. Within one year of that commitment, our congregation doubled in size. We opened a Christian school, which was active for 20 years. By my sixth pastoral year, God moved me to quit my secular job and become a full time pastor. Over the years, we have sent out five ministers who either took an active work or started new works.
“After years of frustration with ‘department-oriented’ church, God led our church to become ‘cell-oriented’ in 2000, focusing on evangelism and discipleship through home groups on the weekdays, and morning and evening services on Sundays. This step has resulted in many souls being added to God’s Kingdom, and developed a ‘family of God’ mindset in the congregation. We have had hundreds of visitors at our cell meetings over the years, and many have come faithfully to Sunday services as a result. We believe that God’s people are His children, He is our King, and we are called as His sons and daughters to disciple others into His Kingdom, with the New Birth message at the foundation. Our identity can be summed up in these statements: ‘People don’t care how much we know UNTIL they know how much we care.’ Therefore, as disciples of Jesus Christ, our compelling calling is to make disciples of our Father by being disciples and doing what disciples do!”
CURRENT FACILITY AND FUTURE GROWTH
Vancouver UPC is a vibrant, growing church. Pastor Woodson provided some details of the current facility and future growth. “Our present facility was built in the early 1960s and was purchased in 1973 by then Pastor C.M. Yadon. It was a Baptist church and was set up well for Christian education and church services.
Bro. Yadon’s successor, Bro. John Klemin, made some improvements in the sound, office use, etc. in the two years he pastored. I have been pastor here for 31 years. This year we have remodeled with worship and training at the center of our facility development, along with modern amenities, such as projection and sound improvement adaptations. Our present facility entails 8,500 square feet of usable space. We have long-term plans to purchase property and build a full-service facility. Initial space envisioned will require a 42,000 square feet facility.
Plans to build additional rooms, fellowship halls, a gym, etc. are not possible at this present site, but will absolutely be part of our ‘next facility’ dream sheet. Our current rate of growth is 10 percent (yearly). We had 15 conversions last year, and have had 13 thus far this year. In the past four years, our combined numbers (main and three daughter works) average grew from 110 to 155.”
Vancouver UPC began in 1945 as an outreach of the First United Pentecostal Church of Portland, Oregon. Services continued for a few years until the Post-WWII recession hit. Services returned to the First UPC until 1960. Vancouver members requested services to begin again in Vancouver. Bro. C.H. Yadon then started services again in downtown Vancouver. Bro. Eades pastored the re-gathered church for approximately four to five years, purchased a church at 34th and R streets. After Bro. Eades resigned, four other ministers served very short stints as pastor.
Bro. C.M. Yadon became pastor in 1965, sold the church building at the 34th and R location in 1973 and purchased the building at the present 33rd and K Street location. Bro. Klemin became pastor at the resignation of Bro. Yadon in 1980. “I became pastor at the resignation of Bro. Klemin in December of 1982. A ‘watchnight’ service on December 31, 1982 was our first service at this church. The outreach methods we used in those early years included door to door invitations, door hangers, individual soul winning efforts and home Bible studies,” he said.
“The location we are presently in has been the church location throughout my 31 years as pastor. The building was constructed with Sunday school (up to 14 classrooms available) and church services in mind. Six of the classrooms were divided by sliding walls, which, when opened, served as a fellowship hall that could seat up to 120. A full-service kitchen was and still is in use. The sanctuary seats 180 to 200, and was furnished in typical unpadded wood pews. A nursery and prayer room completed the top floor sanctuary layout. The windows were old-style colored glass, which were replaced with energy efficient windows about 10 years ago.”
Pastor and Sis. Woodson have three grown children. In their leisure time, they enjoy traveling, visiting family and friends. Pastor Woodson was not brought up in a Pentecostal home but was raised as a Catholic. He received the Holy Ghost at age 20 in 1974. He enumerated some details of his personal history, “One unique aspect that influenced my ministry was an ‘awareness of God’s presence’ at a young age. Two or three years after my New Birth experience, I felt a call into the ministry. I preached my first sermon at Revival Tabernacle (San Diego, CA) in 1976. I graduated from CSTI (San Diego, CA), earning my Associates Degree in 1977. I received my local License in 1977 at age 23. Men that have influenced my ministry include Bro. David F. Gray (my pastor), Bro. Gray’s assistants, and several other respected men of God in the UPCI.”
For more information or to contact Pastor Woodson by phone call 360-694-9266 or by email: PentVan@comcast.net