China Spring church plant rapidly
reaches neighbors, co-workers for Christ
At a year-and-a-half old, Wellspring Church in China Spring has grown to about 250 members, has nearly paid for 36 acres for a future campus, and is self-supporting financially with three full-time staff members.
“We’re seeing families transformed—those that came in that maybe were on the fence or just hadn’t been in church in a long time or maybe were unchurched completely, really beginning to grow in the Lord and love Him deeply,” said Matt Byrd, who pastors Wellspring, located about 13 miles northwest of Waco.
Byrd, a Southwestern Seminary graduate who was called to ministry at a Centrifuge camp at Glorieta years ago, said it’s no longer just the church planting team trying to bring people in.
“God has just moved in our people, and there’s a community in our church that exists, a family that exists, and they’re going out and reaching their neighbors and inviting their co-workers,” Byrd said.
One of the factors that has contributed to Wellspring’s rapid growth is that China Spring is one of the fastest-growing suburbs of Waco, fueled in part by the popularity of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” based in Waco, Byrd said. Though he finds it unbelievable, people nationwide still use their family vacations to visit the Silos at the now-world-famous Magnolia Market.
Wellspring launched in February 2021 as a plant of RockPointe Church in Flower Mound and First Baptist Church in Cooper, both churches where Byrd had served on staff. From the beginning, discipleship pastor Brent Bolton and worship and student minister Austin Crosby were part of the team.
“We launched with about 60 adults serving that day, and I think we had 230 or 240 people come to the opening service, which was incredible,” Byrd said. The serving team grew out of home meetings that had started the previous fall.
“It’s been kind of fast and furious ever since then,” Byrd said. More than 30 people have been baptized, and some men have been through about 10 months of training as elder candidates. Byrd hopes they’ll be installed in August.
When 36 acres of land became available on the main highway, the church sensed God saying, “This is for you,” and they took on nearly half a million dollars of debt as an eight-month-old church plant last fall. They owe $70,000 nine months later and are on track to pay it off within a year of buying the property.
“God has been overly kind to us, and it has been an amazing journey,” Byrd said. “It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in ministry, but it’s also some of the most fun I’ve ever had because you get kind of a front row seat to, ‘If God doesn’t show up, we’re going to die out here.’ He does incredible things that are seemingly impossible, like, ‘This doesn’t happen without God doing this.’”
When Byrd was led to plant in China Spring, he didn’t realize what a tight-knit community it was, but that has contributed to the church’s growth.
“I’ve got three kids under the age of 10, and they go to church with the same kids they go to school with and play sports with on Saturdays,” he said.
The local high school won a state football championship last fall, and some of the coaches attend Wellspring. Baylor, of course, won the Big 12, and some of those coaches also go to Wellspring. “It’s been neat to celebrate what’s going on in those types of ways in the community,” Byrd said.
Most Sundays, Wellspring serves 80-100 children with 25-30 volunteers. “Our student ministry kind of popped up out of nowhere,” he said. “We weren’t quite ready for it, but we had students, so we started it.” They’ve seen more than 10 students give their lives to Christ.
“We probably have 120 adults serving in our church regularly right now,” Byrd said. “Our church wouldn’t happen without our laypeople serving.” Part of that includes setting up and tearing down for Sunday services at China Spring High School.
Church planting is important, Bryd said, because, statistically, church plants reach more lost people in the first couple of years than established churches.
“I think maybe it’s because you’re meeting in a coffee shop or a school cafeteria or a movie theater where the unchurched or lost people maybe feel less intimidated than coming into an established church,” Byrd said.
He believes Scripture commands believers to multiply churches.
“I believe that the missional push of the kingdom of God was supposed to be through the context of the local church,” Byrd said, “so I believe our call to go and make disciples is one of going and planting healthy churches that make those disciples.”