A new Yukon church launching in September sets out to help visitors find their paths.
Lead Pastor Bryan Thiessen and his wife CaRanda are opening Pathway Church to live their dreams while helping others discover their own while also discovering God.
Bryan has wanted to be a pastor since he was 3 years old. Bryan and CaRanda met at a Christian university in Dallas. He got his degree in pastoral ministries and CaRanda got a degree in Christian counseling. They were then in full-time ministry as youth pastors for five years in Tennessee and senior pastors for five years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They also had their two children while living in Pittsburgh.
“Everything was going well. We were coming home from church one Sunday and nothing bad was happening, but I just felt God dealing with my heart. I didn’t really know what that meant or what it was, but I just felt a big burden I had never felt before so I just began praying and fasting. I ended up fasting for about 40 days and praying on it for about six months and at the end of that time, we really sensed God wanting us to move on from Pittsburgh. We still didn’t really know where or what but we felt church planting was what he wanted out of us,” Bryan said. “We had this map and we said ‘God, we’ll do anything anywhere—it doesn’t have to be in ministry,’ but he wanted us in ministry in the United States so we started praying over different cities but kept feeling drawn to Oklahoma City. We kept putting it off, but it kept coming back to the top of the list.”
Bryan and CaRanda drove around Oklahoma to find where they wanted to go, but Bryan said when he got out at the Starbucks in Yukon something just clicked.
“Not just something, I think that was God. This was the spot. I knew a little bit about Yukon from driving to see family in Weatherford, but it was like ‘yeah, this is your new home’ so we sold our home in Pittsburgh and moved out here around September and began to do research about Yukon,” he said.
The research showed that Yukon is one of the fasting growing communities. Canadian County is the fastest growing county in Oklahoma and the 51st fastest growing county in the entire U.S., reflecting a 25 percent growth rate over the past 10 years. Oklahoma City is one of the top-five-fasted growing economies in the nation according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, was ranked number three for “Best Cities for Millennials,” and has a population that has grown six percent since the 2010 census.
Oklahoma City also has 31 percent of residents who identify themselves as “unchurched,” with 44 percent of those under the age of 40, and Canadian County has 81 percent of people who claim no adherence to religion.
Pathway Church is a non-denominational church based on John 14:6—guiding people on the right path.
Coming up with the name of “Pathway Church” was the hardest part for them, Bryan said.
“I like Pathway because in John 14:6 Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life,’” he added. “We want to help guide people on their path in life—in their marriage, their career, their family, their relationship with Christ, just in everything.”
Bryan and CaRanda are doing the church plant through an organization called ARC (association of related churches.) ARC is a non-denominational organization that helps pastors and church leaders plant life-giving churches.
“We’ll take absolutely anybody but our heart and our key focus is millennials because we are millennials,” Bryan said.
The model they’re doing is they won’t have any formal services until the launch date of Sept. 10 tentatively, but starting April 9 they’re going to be having Interest Socials at Pie Five Pizza Co., 2121 S. Yukon Parkway, Suite 100. The Interest Socials will be from 4-5 p.m. every other Sunday to just get to know one another and find out more about Pathway Church and its vision. Pathway Church is paying for the pizza for anyone who comes, and there will be a bounce house and indoor activities for children.
When they do launch, services will be hosted at Yukon High School in the cafeteria.
“We’re really excited to partner with the high school because we want to be givers to the school and to Yukon. We want to be known for what we’re for and not what we’re against. We’re for people, for this community and for Yukon,” Bryan said. “We really just want to help people find their purpose in life. We want people to know God, know His presence, and have that relationship with Him to empower them to fulfill their God-given purpose in life. We want to enrich our city with God’s love and become a family. Not just blood family, but we when you walk into the church it feels like family.”
He added that they want to feel like a church of 50 while planning and having a vision for a church of 5,000.
Bryan said Pathway will definitely have an atmosphere of fun.
“If people walk out of church and don’t have fun then something is wrong. Jesus was a fun guy, I think anyway. There’s some serious stuff, but definitely fun, definitely family and feels like home,” Bryan said. “Just a great time of worship where you can feel God’s presence. Practical messages is another big thing. We’re going to talk about biblical truths, we’re not going to shy away from that, but at the same time we’re going to show why these matter. I always say when I prepare for a message, ‘does it pass the so what factor?’ It doesn’t matter if you know Greek and Hebrew if it doesn’t apply to their life every day. I think Jesus would say the same thing.”
One of their goals is to make the Pathway irresistible.
“We really want to be a church unchurch people want to attend. We may not be geared toward traditional Christians. We’re not going to light our hair on fire or do anything stupid or weird at all, but we’re really going to try to appeal to people who don’t go to church,” Bryan said. “We also want to be known as a charitable church. We really want for people of Yukon to say ‘I don’t usually go to church, but if I ever did go to church, I would go to Pathway.’ Not because of the great worship or Bryan’s a nice guy with great messages, but because every time they turn around they can see a tangible way Pathway has blessing our community. That’s our goal. It may take a little while to get there because we’re starting from nothing, but we’ll get there.”
For more information about Pathway Church, contact Bryan at 464-3231 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @yourpathwaychurch.
“Come check us out,” Bryan said.