With few belongings packed into a moving truck, Paul Chappell and his family moved by faith to serve a small, struggling church. While the church was eager to have the family come, they could not provide a salary, moving expenses, or housing.
Winter Revival Begins
Since January of 1987, Dr. John Goetsch has preached all winter revival services at Lancaster Baptist Church. He has served the Lord as an evangelist for forty-one years and has given his life to help churches across the country. The revival services have been vital to the spiritual growth of the people of Lancaster Baptist Church. Dr. Goetsch preaches a series of five messages, and the Holy Spirit works on hearts in a powerful way. The Winter Revival is also always scheduled for the opening week of the spring semester for West Coast Baptist College—just the spiritual charge needed to get back into training for ministry.
Bus Ministry Begins
In 1987, Eldon Lofgren approached Pastor Chappell and asked if he could begin a bus ministry. A short time later, Eldon and his son, Jeremy, went out on a Sunday morning in a van. They returned a short time later with three children—the first “bus-kids” to attend Lancaster Baptist Church.
"Giving By Faith" Building Banquet
The “Giving by Faith” building banquet in 1988 and the down payment on the first twenty acres a few days later were just the beginning of an unfolding miracle. No one could have guessed from those early days how God was going to fill this new campus with growth. Ever since the first banquet, Lancaster Baptist Church has been in some program of expansion to make room for the work God is doing here in the desert.
Radio Program Started
The radio program began in 1989 as The Sunday Morning Gospel Hour on a local secular station every Sunday morning.
Lancaster Baptist School Begins
In 1988, Pastor Chappell asked Pastor Rick Houk and his family to consider coming to Lancaster to join the pastoral staff and to take on the task of giving birth to Lancaster Baptist School. The Houks prayerfully responded to this call of God, and the school officially began in the fall of 1989 with forty-seven students. Since that time, the school has grown to over 400 students with thirty-five staff members and has been used of God to prepare more than 552 graduates for full-time ministry.
The Early 90s
By 1990, an architectural rendering of a new building was brought before the church family, and that year the church grew in the theme “I Love My Church.” The next year the members “Staked Our Claim” and decided once again to invest in the future and to give by faith to honor the Lord.
Spanish Ministry Begins
In 1991, when Pastor Chappell led a Spanish-speaking couple to the Lord, he had a burden to begin a Spanish ministry. Though the proportion of Spanish-speaking people in the Antelope Valley was a small minority, it was obviously growing. Soon a Sunday school class was formed and taught in Spanish.
A few months after the class began, Sunday services were held in Spanish. The church rented the cafeteria in Antelope Valley High School just a block away and set up some chairs and a keyboard. More Spanish-speaking people were saved and baptized, and in those first few years the congregation grew to about 200 people.
The Mid-Summer Pastor’s Fellowship (Spiritual Leadership Conference)
In 1991, Pastor Chappell invited other pastors within driving distance to come for a week of encouraging preaching, held in conjunction with the church anniversary. In the early years it was simply called “The Mid-Summer Pastor’s Fellowship.”
The incredible growth of Lancaster Baptist Church is an amazing testimony of God’s creativity, power, and grace. Through this ministry, Jesus was saving souls and radically transforming lives. Something special was happening in Lancaster.
Truth for Today Radio Broadcast
In 1992, the program became a daily ministry on a local Christian station and took the name Truth for Today.
North Auditorium Groundbreaking
July 12, 1992, marked the sixth anniversary of Lancaster Baptist Church. It was a wonderful day of celebration, preaching, and people being saved. After the morning service, history was written as the entire church family gathered expectantly for the groundbreaking at the corner of 40th Street East and Lancaster Boulevard.
A Heart for God
In March of 1993, Dr. David Gibbs preached at the “Heart for God” building banquet, and the church family gave and committed $418,000 that evening. It was a miraculous night of rejoicing and anticipation. Just a few weeks later, 3,100 people attended the last Open House Sunday in the old building, and over 200 of them trusted Christ as Saviour. God taught this church that if they would continue to build hearts for Him, He would build the building.
Jerry Ferrso Sings
Two weeks before occupying a beautiful new facility, the devil tried one more blow. Unexpected cost increases came from out of nowhere. The church needed $200,000 immediately, or the project would come to a grinding halt.
God led Pastor Chappell to bring the need before the church. It was November 21, 1993—the occasion of the annual Thanksgiving Offering. During the evening service, Pastor explained the circumstance, said that he believed God would provide, and the church took an offering. It was an unforgettable service.
At one point, a man yelled out, “Pastor, I’ll give one thousand dollars if Brother Ferrso will sing a solo!” That single statement gave way to the most hilarious time of sacrificial giving that this church has ever experienced.
In that one evening, over $200,000 was given by God’s people! Jerry Ferrso sang his infamous solo; the people rejoiced and gave God great glory; the final construction bills were paid; and the building was occupied two weeks later! The church family left the service that evening singing, “Movin’ up the boulevard!”
North Auditorium Dedication Sunday
Dedication Sunday for the new building was held on January 9, 1994. The 1,150-seat auditorium that had seemed so large when the church drew the first building plans was filled and overflowing. The attendance that morning was over 2,600, with 1,000 first-time visitors. Many of these visitors were saved. It was a historic day for the church that God blessed in a unique way.
The special guest that day was former Vice President Dan Quayle. The church hosted a city-wide breakfast early that morning, and then opened the new campus for the dedication service. The abundant media coverage literally propelled the church into a new spotlight in the Antelope Valley. For years, people remembered Lancaster Baptist Church as “the church that Dan Quayle visited.”
Just a few years earlier, the church had been struggling to fill a classroom. Now, every space was overflowing, and once again the church needed room to grow.
Pastor and Mrs. Chappell led the way, adding to their already heavy responsibilities in the church. Through giving and serving well beyond what could be expected, the church family actively supported the purpose of the college. Staff from the church and Christian school provided classroom instruction while Ken Jones and Rick Houk provided administration and day-to-day leadership for the student body. And in the fall of 1995, West Coast Baptist College opened its doors to forty-three students.
Open House Sunday
In 1995, over 4,000 people attended Open House Sunday, and 300 of them trusted Christ as Saviour. The church attendance averaged more than 2,000 for the first time during October.
Spiritual Leadership Conference Begins
In 1996, the name "The Mid-Summer Pastor’s Fellowship" was changed to “Spiritual Leadership Conference,” and since that time thousands of guests and literally hundreds of churches around the world have been influenced and encouraged through this special week.
Each of the evening services features uplifting music, stirring presentations, and dynamic preaching. The days are filled with practical ministry training sessions. More than one hundred workshops are offered that focus on one of several ministry “tracks,” and are designed to give practical, biblical information and training to Christian workers.
What began as a simple desire to encourage other like-minded churches and pastors in southern California has grown to become a much anticipated event by our church family and friends from around the world. Every June, thousands of guests—missionaries, pastors, church staffs, lay leaders, teen groups, and Christian friends—come to Lancaster for the conference. This special week features powerful preaching, practical sessions, dynamic music, and sweet fellowship. The focus is to uplift Christ and to strengthen Christian brethren from around the world.
Giving By Faith
In early 1997, the church family gave and committed over $1.8 million toward another auditorium.
New Auditorium Construction Begins
July 13, 1997, was the eleventh anniversary with 3,000 in attendance. Dirt was already moving, and a building pad was already in place. It was time to rise up and build again. Having come through a very trying season of trials and spiritual attacks, the church family staked their claim once again upon the promises of God and the faith of their pastor!
The Baptist Voice First Published
The Baptist Voice is a seventy-two page magazine of biblical exhortation from the ministries of Lancaster Baptist Church. This dynamic publication was first produced in 1998 and features thought-provoking articles from ministry leaders, as well as encouraging reports on what is happening in churches across the world.
100 Missionaries Supported
In 1998, the church began to support their one-hundredth missionary—a long-prayed-for victory. The church ended the year having seen over 1,300 people trust Christ as Saviour.
Main Auditorium Construction Completed
Construction was concluded in March of 1999 at a total cost of $8.5 million. The theme at that time was “Let God Arise.”
March 19, 1999, was a Friday evening. At the Lancaster Baptist Church, four brilliant spot lights lit up the night and could be seen from all over the valley. Three years of giving, praying, and laboring were about to culminate in a grand opening celebration and offering. It was a night that defies description. The choir sang “Hallelujah to the Lamb,” and the anticipation of the church family was electric as Pastor Chappell walked to the pulpit and simply said, “Welcome to Lancaster Baptist Church!” A lengthy and spontaneous eruption of applause, cheers, and tears followed—an overflow of hearts truly grateful to a wonderful God.
Striving Together Publications Begins
What began in 1999 in Pastor Chappell’s garage led by his daughter, Danielle, is now a thriving publications ministry that exists completely as a ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church. It was founded for the purpose of publishing biblically sound books, curriculum, and resources to assist in producing spiritual growth in the lives of Christians. Thousands of churches across the country are now using Sunday school, discipleship, soulwinning, and ministry materials from Striving Together Publications every day. This is one of the most exciting and fastest growing parts of our ministry.
The new Worship Center filled quickly, and it was less than six months before the church began two morning services again. They continued to experience miraculous growth, as well as a unique spiritual journey of victories and trials. The Lord called a precious secretary, Lori Thomasson, home to Heaven, and the new Lori Thomasson Dormitory was built in her honor. Seventy churches came to the West Coast Baptist Youth Conference, West Coast Baptist College graduated thirty-two students, and $2.7 million was given and committed through the “Let God Arise” and the “Seek the Lord” offerings. In 2000, the church family knocked on 300,000 doors inviting people to church, and the ministry quickly moved forward.
The Next Step
The year 2001 led Pastor Chappell and the building committee into a season called “Visioneering.” This was a year to revise the master plan and define the next decade of campus development. In November of that year, Pastor unveiled “The Next Step”—a revised master plan that cast new vision to the church family.
Administration Building Construction
In January of 2002, the church began construction on the Worship Center balcony. That June, Evangelist Wally Davis preached his last message at this church before the Lord called him home to Heaven. A few weeks later on the sixteenth anniversary, the church broke ground on another eighteen-month construction project—the Music and Administration Building.
Dr. Don Sisk Joins
In 2003, Dr. Don Sisk, former Founder and President of Baptist International Missions Incorporated, joined the membership of Lancaster Baptist Church.
This Must Be the Place
January of 2004 opened the floodgates of a new season of ministry as the church staff, music ministry, and college classes benefited greatly from 24,000 brand new square feet of office and classroom space. The new space and equipment took the “lid off” of ministry in more ways than can be described. The church and publications staff occupied the new building and the college staff occupied the former church offices. For the first time in the church’s history, the week-day ministry team had adequate space to accomplish the vision of ministry.
Administration Building Completion
This three-story office tower was completed in January of 2004 at a cost of $4.2 million, and to God’s glory, fourteen months later, the church was able to completely pay for this building through the “Grow in Grace” offering which exceeded $2 million. It was a miraculous victory for the entire church family to the glory of God!
Daily in the Word
In 2005, Truth for Today became Daily in the Word with Dr. Paul Chappell and was coupled with the daily devotional website of our ministry. As of the spring of 2016, Daily in the Word had more than 500,000 visitors to the website every month, 33,700 subscribers to the free daily devotional, and tens of thousands of daily listeners around the world.
Revels Building Groundbreaking
On April 30, 2006, God allowed the church to break ground on the Revels Building—a 39,000 square-foot, three-story young adult educational building.
Revels Building Grand Opening
This new building opened during the fall of 2007 and is currently used seven days a week for college classes, adult Sunday school classes, and many other ministry functions. It features a spacious lobby, a large bookstore, twenty-one classrooms, a science lab, two computer labs, a piano lab, and a home economics lab. Every day it is used to train hundreds of students who are preparing to serve in churches around the world.
Korean Ministry Begins
For over a decade, Pastor Chappell had prayed about beginning a Korean ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church. It was a love that had been kindled in Pastor Chappell when he spent his teen years in South Korea as a missionary kid. He was just waiting for God to present the right opportunity and the right people to begin.
The opportunity came when God brought Enoch and Grace Kim on staff. Grace is the daughter of Dr. Daniel Kim, pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in South Korea and a family friend to the Chappells. Enoch had served with his father-in-law and is a tremendously gifted vocalist.
In July 2008, the Kims began by holding a Korean Bible study every other Friday in their home. Enoch and a few Korean college students would also interpret Pastor Chappell’s Sunday morning messages. About a year later, a core group formed an adult Bible class that met on Sunday mornings, and full Korean services on Sunday morning followed nine months later.
In 2012, with the help of Missionary Adam Fridenstine, a graduate of WCBC, West Coast Baptist College began Bible training with pastors and other church leaders in El Salvador. Dr. John Goetsch taught one of the first classes for Seminario Teológico Bautista Emanuel. Every year since then, a different group of instructors teach block classes on doctrine and ministry practice to pastors and ministry leaders in El Salvador. In May 2016, they held their first four-year graduation.
West Wing Completed
On September 30, 2012, Lancaster Baptist Church marked the next stage of growth with the grand opening of the West Wing expansion. Adults and teens gathered together for prayer and the dedication of this new worship and education space. Their prayers that day were not for the building itself, but that they would bring glory to Christ and welcome people from the community into a place where they can hear the Word of God and grow in their relationships with Him. The completion of the West Wing is the first of a three-stage expansion of the Main Auditorium.
In May of 2014, West Coast Baptist College began preparing for accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). TRACS is a Christian accrediting agency that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education (USDE). This organization is committed to accrediting only institutions that affirm the infallibility of Scripture, biblical creationism, and fundamental doctrines. This is a Christian accreditation that has no provision for infringement upon our curriculum or convictions as a college. This decision allows the college to continue accepting international students, transfer general credits to other accredited institutions, honor our veterans’ right to the GI Bill, and provide other general enhancements for students.
Grand Opening of the Walther Center
On August 30, 2015, Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College celebrated the Grand Opening of the Walther Center—a building named in memory of our dear friend Leo Walther. Leo was fifty-seven years old when he first came to Lancaster Baptist Church, and he wasn’t there because he had a hunger for truth. For years, Leo’s wife, Evelyn, had prayed for his salvation and had asked him to attend church with her. He wouldn’t go, however, saying he would be a hypocrite to attend church because of the business he owned. For thirty years, Leo had been in the liquor business before he sold it and retired at age fifty-one.
Kids Corner Preschool Begins
In 2015, Lancaster Baptist School began Kids Corner—a full preschool for children three to four years old. This ministry has also become an outreach to people in our community.
Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia Begins
The need for Christian laborers across Asia is great. Considering the population to missionary ratio, it’s a greater need than it’s ever been.
Over the past decades the Lord has called many missionaries who are investing their lives in planting churches and training national pastors across Asia. Additionally, the Lord has raised up many national laborers across Asia who are preaching the gospel as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. Today, the Philippines is one of the highest missionary-sending nations in the world.
Many of these missionaries, and especially national pastors, are not able to attend the Spiritual Leadership Conference held each year in Lancaster, California. Thus, we planned Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia held in Manila, February of 2016.
In the summer of 1986, a young Paul Chappell accepted the call of God to become the Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church... Thirty years later, this is the true story of what God has done in the lives of people at Lancaster Baptist Church.
Outdoor Baptism Service
Eldon Lofgren Transportation Facility
In 2019, the Eldon Lofgren Transportation Facility was dedicated. This much needed facility allows us to keep our bus fleet up to date with maintenance. This facility also houses the Striving Together Publications warehouse.
Kid City Showcase
Training the Next Generation
In February of 2020, we had the opportunity over the course of a week to walk through the Kid City Building Showcase, which was setup to take us through the history of the church and show the different rooms and features of the Kid City Building.
Reaching Forth Kid City Banquet
March 1, 2020 was a historic evening in the Walther Center. We had an opportunity to hear from kids and those who work with kids on a weekly basis. This evening, we were also able to give a cash offering of $610,320 and $2,077,235 in commitments, for a grand total of $2,687,555 toward the Kid City Building construction.
On March 13, 2020, COVID-19 was announced by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. This unique time caused us to move to online services and cut back in many areas of ministry.
Online Only Services
In March of 2020, Lancaster Baptist Church moved to online only services to help keep the gospel being presented around the globe in the midst of a global pandemic.
First Outdoor Service
Our first ever outdoor service took place outside the West Wing.
Return to Church
In July of 2020, we began having indoor services again. However, this only lasted a few weeks as the state of California began shutting down again.
Midweek Connection Groups
Experiencing Community Like Never Before
In February of 2021, Connection Groups started to meet on campus on Wednesday evenings. This transition allowed us to connect better with our classes and helped to facilitate the transition and construction of the upcoming Kid City Building.
Declare the Gospel Relaunch
On March 7, 2021, Lancaster Baptist Church restarted the bus ministry, heard great reports from missionaries around the world, and restarted the choir, singing "Jesus, Firm Foundation" with an encore performance in the evening service.
Kid City Groundbreaking
On May 9, 2021, Lancaster Baptist Church broke ground on a new Kid City Building that will be used to train up the next generation of teachers, pastors, and faithful Christians.