New Hope in Dripping Springs!


On September 29, 2013, I arrived in Dripping Springs, Texas, from Southern California, to plant a church calledhat2 Hope Chapel Hill Country. The doors opened wide on January 5, 2014.

It hasn’t been easy…. How in the heck do you start a church anyway?

I’d been an associate pastor of a large church in Hermosa Beach for over fifteen years and planned to retire there; in fact, when I got the call to move, I was only five years from my pension! (Read about why I moved by clicking here.)

The best way to get people to go to a church is to invite them: Personally. In supermarkets, at Home Depot, restaurants, on the street and, GULP!, door-to-door. I hate going door-to-door but someone has to do for the truth what the cults do for a lie.

My “sending” pastor, Zac Nazarian, boss and mentor, told me to go out and get three yeses and 10 noes a day. My wife and I thought that the number 13 was bad luck, so I increased the objective by two. Fifteen people a day will get invitations.


To reach the 500 people in our neighborhood, Deer Creek Ranch, we bought a golf mobile and named it the GO! Kart!

go kart

I made invitations for the church, invitations for our Bible Study and stickers to put on the back of the trillion dollar bill Gospel tracts I always carry, and invited, invited, invited. Everyone got Gospel tracts, some invitereceived the conversational Gospel, all got an invitation. If I was in a hurry, the invitation went like this: “Here’s a trillion dollar bill for you. On the back is the trillion dollar question. ‘If you died today would you go to Heaven or Hell?’ ”

I would then pull out my invitation and hand it to them with a challenge,  “If you are good enough to get there, I want to invite you to a new church I’m starting in a dance studio on the west end of town.”

I’d pause.

“And if you’re not good enough, I’m gonna double invite you.”

That always got a laugh.

A dance studio? Yep. Starbella Dance Co. is only two doors down from my office. I just walked in one day and asked the owner if she would rent it to me on Sundays. When Annie the owner heard it was a church she dropped the payment by 20 bucks and only charged me for two hours at—get this—thirty smackeroos an hour.


To reach people in another way a radio show geared to non-Christians and unchurched believers called “Shine Your Light” debuted the last week of December on our local radio station KDRP. This is a program that is half music and half teaching so people will not get bored. Hopefully. I teach a simple, biblically-based message in a friendly, conversational manner mentioning Hope Chapel Hill Country at least five times in the half hour broadcast . (Go to to hear a few shows.)


A website was also constructed and  a professional introductory video was shot by film director, Mark S. Jacobs.

I joined the Chamber of Commerce and my first event was a tri-city mixer where nearly every business owner received a personal invite to church.

Logos and banners were designed. Stationary, business cards and signs were printed. Tithe envelopes even!

logo bannerContinuing to mix it up on the street, I went to the only apartment complex in Dripping Springs which had nineteen units of four apartment each. I personally spoke to thirty nine families. Half the complex.

Weekly breakfasts with the local pastors helped me to better understand the area and to see who was for the church plant and who wasn’t. I would ask each pastor, from Catholic to Episcopalian, from Presbyterian to Lutheran, from Baptist to Methodist to Non-Denom, this question: “Is there room in Dripping Springs for another church?” Thankfully, everyone was for kingdom growth. (It is estimated in this rapidly growing area that 80-85% of the people are un-churched.)


My first friend in the area was Frank Raymond, a retired construction man who has a heart for the Kingdom of God. He has been ministering to a local convalescent home for over seventeen years—and he’s eighty years old!


He built my bookshelves, sandwich boards and even assembled my pulpit! A faithful man who can find?  He even procured a trailer to pack all our church stuff in—and is going to let me park it on his property!

When I first met Frank I asked him if there was room for another church in Drippin’. “Yes,” replied. “In the four quadrants.” As of today, the church is on the west side, and our MiniChurch is in the north. We plan on starting a new one on the east side in the home of the man who God used to instigate our move to Texas in the first place.


God has ’em surrounded! They can’t get away from him now! (Except in the south, where the cemetery is located. Let the dead bury their own dead.)


Two local pastors, church-planters themselves and Texans, are becoming good friends and have been very helpful, praying for me individually and at their churches.

jeff meI’m very thankful for Jeff Jackson, (in his son’s Youth Office), of Gateway Hill Country Church, and Kenken me Edwards of Compass Church.

I placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a worship leader, to no avail.

And of course my family prayed, Facebook friends prayed, my Hope Chapel family prayed….

The big day was almost here. Who would show? Anybody? Would you go to a church that met in a dance studio led by a pastor you didn’t know from California?

No? Me neither.

But there was still a lot more work to do….

I had to laugh as I thought about the fact that I haven’t even had the time to read the four books I have on church planting. I didn’t even join the church planting network yet like I was planning on doing. Why? The Holy Spirit has been leading the way. I’m just trying to keep up with Him!

In anticipation of our Grand Opening, my family had to really pull together:

My wife Karen typed up the bulletins and will be the lead Children’s Church teacher. She is also the church decor adviser, she designed a private Nursing Mothers’ Room, bought all the toys and tables…And she was the light engineer.

DD, our fourteen-year-old, picked out the worship songs, a mixture of contemporary and traditional hymns arranging the music on her iPod.

12-year-old Laurel prepared the Children’s Church lesson online and was ready to assist Karen in teaching the kids. In the future I anticipate that she will assist me with worship.

We did a four hour dress rehearsal on Saturday night ending at midnight. I even preached my sermon to see how long it was. DD fell asleep.


Sunday morning arrived.  It was 34 degrees; The Weather Channel said it felt like 28. And twenty mile an hour winds! Brrrrrr. The sandwich boards had to be strapped to a street sign and to my car’s bumpers so they wouldn’t blow away, killing someone on Highway 290. They at least needed to get saved at Hope Chapel Hill Country first!


The doors opened. Cars drove into the lot. Eighteen people showed up, including my family, with 90% of them coming FIFTEEN MINUTES EARLY!


I kind of led worship in addition to preaching a message from Revelation 21:5–“Behold! I make all things new.” Coincidentally, my Pastor at Hope Hermosa preached the same verse.

The order of service was an exact replica of Hope Chapel, Hermosa Beach, except our service was only one hour fifteen minutes. I budgeted for ninety.

There was one great testimony. I prayed for a man ten days prior in the apartment complex behind the church who had suffered an accident and was ready to have his finger amputated. He came to tell me that the doctors said his finger was just fine. They couldn’t understand it. Part of the bone was growing back!

As wonderful as the healing was, the biggest miracle was this: Everyone stayed 45 minutes AFTER service ended even though no one knew each other!


Afterward, the clean-up crew came in. Yep. The Sanchez Family.

Whew! Finally. It’s all over. We did it. God blessed us and everyone came. It is finished!

Till next Sunday.

Read about the scoldings, disappointments and joys
of planting this new church by clicking here.


BY THE NUMBERS: I know it’s not about numbers, but it sure is great to see how Christ slowly build his church. Also, the more who come, the more people get to hear the Word of God. So I’m really glad when people come. Here are our attendance figures so far.

1.5.14: 18 (All new visitors)

1.12.14: 17

1.19.14: 21

1.26.14: 12

2.2.14: 24 (7 new visitors)

2.9.14: 19 (3 new visitors)

2.16.14: 13 (2 new visitors)

2.23.14: 19 (3 new visitors)

3.2.14: Read the rest of our weekly attendance by clicking here.


  1. Nice recap Steve. We’ve been seeing updates here and there, but was nice to get a bigger picture. We’re so excited about how God is using you and can’t wait to hear more about Hope Chapel Hill Country.

  2. I am blessed, more than you know, by your example! May God grow His kingdom through you in ways you can’t imagine! Praying for you!!

  3. Very nicely done. Our family was so blown away by your profound sermon that day. Karen and the girls were big helpers. It was fun to be a greeter with my son, Hunter and to have my wife Ronda bake her famous banana bread for everyone.

    There is something unique and fun with a brand new church in that everything is fresh and brand new. Everything is so easily malleable and the people have such a hunger and thirst for Christ.

    Your brother in Christ,

  4. Oh Steve,
    Your story brings tears to my eyes as I read what God is doing in your Texas adventure as you boldly share Jesus!

    One of my great regrets is that I was unable to say good-bye to you & Karen prior to your departure as I was preparing for a new ministry endeavor myself ( called the Praying Wives Club, and I had a house full of women coming the following morning), hence,
    We never said our good-byes, yet I have carried your ministry upon my heart, faithfully interceding daily, & ever so excited to see how your story/
    Adventure with God would unfold.
    I have always been a huge fan of
    Stepping out in Faith! And seeing you prayerfully & boldly do the work of our Lord, literally day in & day out as you faithfully sharred the gospel in Los Angeles, I knew God was about to do great things in the Sanchez Family, as well as in Texas, as you obey the great comission. You have been a beautiful example to so many here in California, and it’s only a matter of time all the pieces of the puzzle come together and the doors of the dance studio/church are open and filled with new friendships and lives that need Jesus!
    I am so proud of you guys and so encouraged, so excited and hopeful to one day come to visit.
    I so enjoyed the bit fro
    Your radio program as well~ you really

    have covered all the basis!

    I shall be praying God builds a worship team for you and that you rapidly grow as you impact the city for Jesus!
    Give Karen & the girls my love~and you keep up the good work for the kingdom of God!

    Cindy Parsons

  5. God bless you Steve! Your church will continue to grow by the grace of God. Feed them with spiritual food and donuts and coffee and they will come!
    Blessings to the Sanchez family!

  6. We are so very proud of you, Steve. I have been following you on Facebook along your ‘ Journey of Faith’..! You are an incredible example and we really miss you at Hope. Hope Chapel has always sent the best…and that is you, Steve Sanchez and your family. God bless you as you work for ‘The Kingdom’… We are encouraged and excited to see all that God is, and will continue to do in this great call He has put in your life…Hope Chapel Hill Country!
    Our love and prayers to you and your family, always.
    God bless you!

  7. Hello Pastor Steve,
    WOW ! You all sure have been busy getting all things in order for your new church .I was impressed with the way you went about inviting people to the new church and I’m sure it brought you Joy to share the hope that is in you.The pictures are nice to see and especially liked the photo of The Pastors breakfast meeting.Glad , to see that you are welcomed there and have fellowship with men of God ; so that you all will be united with one mind , one heart to save the lost and bring the invitation of Salvation to all who come and join in your fresh wave of faith.God is good all the time ! Enjoy the moments of hope,love,joy and fellowship with your new friends of Christ.I was thinking of you on New Years day , remembering our trips to the Rose Parade.What great fun we had sharing God’s hope and being a blessing to others as we walked up & down many streets to get the million dollar bills in their hands.Thanks , to you & hope chapel ; I have memories of Joy sharing Jesus with others.MISS YOU PASTOR STEVE….

  8. Steve . . .everything you wrote I enjoyed reading, as I pictured everything from greeting to preaching to cleanup! The first thing that came to mind after reading you had “four more the following Sunday” was that . . God is going to increase the numbers faster then you can keep up with. It may take a few more weeks or even months . . but your church will need to move or double your services. There is no doubt in my heart that your church will outdo all the others as God wills and teaches HIS words through you.
    Wish I could be there with you and your 3 girls! Isn’t it amazing how God starts you off with your own family cleaning and cooking, but that will all build up as people come out of the woodwork . . . uh . . drippy water . . .to engage their service and love to our Great God!!
    Steve, I personally miss you and your family but as we know, God has worked miracles through your life, from the back of that car through the doors of Hope Chapel . . and now Drippin Springs,Texas! Who’da dreamed, huh??
    AND I have not forgotton the dedication to you of . . . “The Seed Sower Song” aka: “It’s God’s Holy Business!”
    Love you Steve! Bobbie Chalekian

  9. Steve, God bless my brother, wow, sorry I missed the Wed. meeting at hope Hermosa, I’d like to talk to you about the opportunities out there sometime please, you know like work and such, serious, I just got layed off as a machinist and thought that their might be a good opportunity for me I would appreciate your help and counsel, God bless everything your doing out there, hope to hear from you soon my ph. is 310-626-2791

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.