The story of Atascadero Bible Church is full of rich history and fruitful ministry. It is not centered around an iconic speaker or charismatic leader. It's set neither in a flashy facility or even a bustling community. There's really not much glamor to the story.
It's simple. It's a story of God's faithfulness to faithful people, and while we've had exceptional and dynamic leaders, like Pastor EB Claud and Tom Ferrell, Atascadero Bible Church is and has always been about the Church and the Kingdom of God.
Please click the following button for a video of the history of ABC - video made in 2014.
Our story began over 90 years ago when the federated church was established as the first church of Atascadero. In 1936 it was renamed to “Church of the Living Word” and changed again to Atascadero Memorial Church in the 40's. Through those formative years it became evident that God had a bright future for this small church in the heart of the young city.
In 1970 when E.B. Claud moved his family to Atascadero to take on the role of shepherding this small vibrant community of believers. His mission was simple, teach the Word, and remain faithful to what God had called him there to do. He did just that, in the next 10 years the church grew steadily nearly doubling in size. Under his leadership Atascadero memorial became Atascadero Bible Church... a strategic shift. “Memorial to what?" EB would say. "Who died? This is a Bible Church.” He drove a stake in ground on God's word and would not waiver.
Across the country, The Church was becoming a social “marketplace” and churches were faced with hard decisions: Stand faithful to values and calling? or compromise to attract church shoppers with feel good messages and watery truth. We stand today on the shoulders of men who were unwilling to compromise the teaching of the word, un-interested in flattery, chasing numbers, or notoriety. But undoubtedly we are here today because that same humility drove leaders like EB Claud to empower the next generation, to push young leaders to the front and quietly disappear.
In 1984, God called Tom & Gail Ferrell to Atascadero Bible Church, EB saw in Tom the consistency and conviction needed to take ABC through our next chapter of ministry. So 3 short years after his arrival Tom assumed the role of Co-Senior Pastor.
“The humility of EB and his belief in the next generation of leaders has left an indelible imprint in my view of spiritual leadership.”...
God was building His Kingdom, and as young leaders emerged there seemed to be one important pre-requisite: humility. The future of ABC would be laced with the thread of submission – there was no room for personal agenda.
God had the freedom to work – and He did. By the early 90's we outgrew the gym, built a new worship facility and tripled church attendance. Over the next 10 years, Rich Fisher, Ron Smith, Chris Key, Adam Weatherby and others joined the team continuing to propel our vision forward. “Life Transformation” was happening here at ABC.
By the year 2000 weekend attendance had reached nearly 1000 people, while church plants, global missions, youth and community outreach became the norm. The next decade would bring exponential growth in student ministries, an average weekend attendance of 1400 people, the shift toward community groups, local, regional and global outreach.
Over the years Tom continued to hand out influence to the staff and young leaders, consistently empowering the next generation and pushing them to the forefront. Continued proof that ABC is not a “normal” church – our staff and elders have recently experienced unique unity and partnership in reaching our community with the gospel of Christ.
Believing that God will continue to complete the work that he set out to do nearly 100 years ago in Atascadero with evidence that God is faithful to those that remain available and willing- We press on.
Today ABC is home to over 2000 people in our community, with more than 700 people involved in community groups, 500 children enrolled in weekend programs and over 400 students involved in hub groups. By faith we were able to send out 16 short term mission teams last year, invest more than $600,000 in local and global outreach, and baptized 78 people from within our community.
Today, we stand surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, those that have gone before have paved the way for continued life transformation at ABC. God is building His church, and He is NOT finished. The race has been marked out for us, so we press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward. There are no “glory years,” just foundation years, together we will build on what has been laid. The best is yet to come.