*Note: Word of Life changed their name to Reach Church in August of 2018.
"Go to Sand Springs, raise up a New Testament church, and from there you will touch the world."
Like most nondenominational churches, Word of Life started as a handful of friends with a vision and a prayer. A dozen evangelicals meeting in a downtown Sand Springs storefront for prayer and bible study. They held their first official service on January 4th, 1981 in a twenty-year-old QuikTrip building near the intersection of 10th Street and Adams Road.
Pastor David Emigh founded the church at the age of 28 after a one-year stent in Rosebud, Missouri. During his tenure out of state, Emigh felt called by God to return to Sand Springs, raise up a new testament church, and from there he would touch the world. Together with wife Sharon, and their infant daughter Amanda, the Emigh family packed up and returned to their roots.
For thirty years, Emigh led the church. He published three books and aired an AM radio broadcast that reached tens of thousands. His team founded over a hundred churches on multiple continents, established a bible school, and ran an international ministerial organization.
By their 25th anniversary in 2006, the church had grown to over 800 members. They never got to celebrate their 30th anniversary. On June 15, 2011 Emigh died following a motorcycle accident.
“Without the Thirty, there wouldn’t be the Seven.” – Linda Scott
On September 11, 2011 the church took its first step forward. Word of Life members voted more than 90% in favor of confirming Chad Stewart as the new Senior Pastor.
Stewart arrived at Word of Life as the College and Careers (Young Adult) Pastor. He worked his way throughout the church, briefly running the bookstore, custodial duties, and serving a year as interim youth pastor. He was promoted to Associate Pastor a few months before Emigh’s death.
Moving a church forward after the death of its founding pastor was far from an easy task. Stewart had to honor the legacy of the church’s founder, maintain the church’s existing identity, while simultaneously following his own passions and calling.
“That was a rough transition,” says Church Administrator Linda Scott. “The message never stopped being preached. The missionaries that we supported eight years ago, are still being supported today. They have never missed a payment since David died. We cut staff, we cut salaries, we did all kinds of stuff right here, but they never had a loss. That value of what was important to David has been important to Chad.”
Wednesday night service was dropped, and instead an emphasis was put on creating small groups, both ministerial, and shared interest groups. For four years the church hosted a carnival that offered rides, food, snow cones, backpacks, and haircuts all for free. In 2017 the church decided to forgo the one-day-a-year festivities and invest even more into the community throughout the year.
Scott has been a member of the church since 1986 when she and her late husband Terry were invited by then-youth pastor Tom McCaslin. When McCaslin left Word of Life to start a church in Midwest City, the Scotts took over as Youth Pastors and served there for more than a decade. Under the Scotts, the Youth transitioned from the main church campus back to the old QuikTrip building where it all began. They continued meeting there until 2016 before rejoining the main campus.
Terry Scott stepped down as Youth Pastor to focus on FutureVision Ministries, but the two stayed plugged in at the church and Terry took on a part-time Missions Pastor position. Linda took on the Administrator position in 2011 and Terry took over as Associate Pastor soon after. Terry continued to travel the world, supporting Word of Life satellite churches, ministering, and leading missions until his death in 2016. He died doing what he loved, on a mission trip in Guatemala.
“We exist to reach people.” –WOL Vision.
“We exist to reach people. We want to reach people with the love of Jesus Christ,” says Scott. “Sometimes to reach people, if we can reach a physical need in their life, that can help to bring them to the knowledge that God is a loving god and God is a caring god. We exist to reach people wherever they’re at in whatever condition they’re in.
“It’s not about the lights and all that. You have those things because you’re drawing people in, and we live in an age that people like that kind of stuff. But it’s more about getting to the heart of people. How can we impact them? How can we help them to get from Step A to Step B in their spiritual life? And sometimes it’s how do we get them from A to B when they’re going through a massive change in their life. It’s a divorce, it’s a death, it’s a crazy teenager, a crying baby. How do we help them in those hard times of life to stay on their feet and know that there’s a community behind them that cares about them and the whole time just reminding them what the Word of God says about those things, that He’s there to help them.
“We want people to understand that it’s not just the people at the pulpit that are called to reach people, but it’s all of us. Whether it’s inviting people to church, or handing someone a ‘bless you’ card because you bought their McDonald’s, or whatever. Just showing that love to people.”
Word of Life
1402 N 81st West Ave
Sand Springs, Oklahoma 74063
Service: Sunday 10:00 a.m.
Office Hours: Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.