Our church was founded by Brian and Peri Zahnd in November 1981 along with a handful of young people and a vision to tell people about Jesus Christ. Pastor Brian had met Jesus as a teenager, and soon began conducting Bible studies. He eventually became one of the main leaders at The Catacombs, a Christian coffeehouse in St. Joe.
At age 22 Pastor Brian realized his small group of friends at the coffeehouse didn't go to church on Sundays, so he purchased a broken-down church building in St. Joseph, Missouri, to start what would become Word of Life Church. The stained glass windows were full of holes from rocks that had been thrown, the attic was full of squirrels, and the basement was littered with broken bottles. The steeple had been struck by lightning and fallen off, but the building was the first home of Word of Life Church.
In April 1986, after a period of intense prayer, Pastor Brian began to preach about faith, and the church grew dramatically. During these early days, Pastor Brian and Peri formed the vision and values shaping the church today, including following Jesus, prayer, and following God's direction in life and ministry. In 1989, we moved into our second home, a renovated office building on Frederick Avenue. In fewer than two years, the auditorium was expanded three times, and staff were added to serve the growing congregation.
In 1996, we moved into our present home at Riverside and Cook. This new facility features the sanctuary, Solomon’s Porch Bookstore & Coffee Shop; our multipurpose Millennium Youth Center (MYC), and The Upper Room prayer chapel.
After a season of fasting and prayer in 2004, Pastor Brian knew a transition was coming for Word of Life Church. This shift has been about renewing a focus on the cross of Jesus Christ, exploring the mystery of the Bible and the Jesus way, embracing the deep and long history of the Church, emphasizing the importance of living in Christian community, and wholeheartedly participating in God’s mission to redeem and restore God's good world.
Today Word of Life Church is a worshiping and just community committed to staying on The Journey of following Jesus, making disciples of the Jesus way, and loving both our church and our neighbors.