Wilkes-Barre1_INWILKES-BARRE, Pa.—Co-pastors Dan Nichols and Tim Walker were expecting 150–200 people (but would have been happy “if God gave us 100”) for the grand opening of Restored Church on Sept. 8. God did give them 100, then 150, then 200, then 300. “Our hosts stopped counting after 400+ people came to hear, see, and hopefully respond to the gospel of Jesus,” says Pastor Nichols.

The entire day was about Jesus, he says: One lady arrived an hour early with tears in her eyes, saying, “I’m full of despair.” Joy Nichols took her aside to tell her there’s hope in Jesus. Little groups of people formed before the service to pray to Jesus. Even the local media came, “asking what we’re all about; we told them—Jesus.”

Wilkes-Barre2_INThe first Sunday Gathering of Restored Church was three years in the making. During that time, the pastors met with people in house churches, sharing a meal and opening God’s Word together. People of all walks of life visited these meetings, where they appreciated the opportunity to share what’s happening in their lives. “People care about that,” says Pastor Walker. “They’re also able to ask questions and really wrestle through what the Bible says.” Now they have the opportunity to gather on Sunday mornings as well, meeting in a former United Methodist Church.

The pastors chose the name Restored Church because they believe people can have a restored relationship with God. “The relationship is broken by sin,” says Pastor Nichols, “but Jesus came, and so the relationship can be fixed again through faith in Jesus.”

In addition to a message from God’s Word, the opening service featured music and a “grace story,” or testimony. “Our Restored Kids director, Lacey Payne, braved the stage for the first time to beautifully communicate how her life was radically changed by Jesus two years ago in our very first house church,” says Pastor Nichols.

The pastors say, “We are a group of Jesus-followers who are daily motivated by the grace and mercy of God the Father, through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re committed to live our lives for God, not ourselves. There are no perfect people allowed at our church. We’re a community where genuine authenticity is developed rather than discouraged. Our mission is simple: to communicate the good news of Jesus with our lives in order to reach the lost and aggressively develop committed followers of Jesus.”