How We Got Started
It was not an organized, well-funded church plant.
In 1976, three young couples met at an interdenominational Bible study and began meeting weekly for fellowship.
On their own, this fellowship group was learning about God’s sovereign grace. Why weren’t any churches in Billings talking about God’s sovereign grace? What does it mean when the Bible talks about “election” or “choosing,” and how does that impact that Jesus died for sinners personally? They were learning that God’s love is stronger than all one’s unbelief, doubt, foolishness, and fear put together. They were learning that the most important thing we have to do in life is to glorify God. If the chief end of man is to glorify God, why wasn’t anyone in Billings talking about God’s Glory?
This led to asking questions like these:
What do we want in a church? What do we envision the church to be?
What are our fears? Where would a new church meet?
Why not just be a small group?
Why not be an independent church with no denominational affiliation?
What if we have a church split?
They didn’t know what they were doing, but they were asking questions and looking in God’s Word for the answers.
They began to talk about starting a church.
Why would anyone want to start a church? Why not just have a good Bible study or small group? Isn’t that where the action is? They had lots of fellowship together in their small group and went their separate ways on Sundays. Sunday worship was formal and official, but fellowship was fun. They were very interdenominational—from Episcopal and Methodist backgrounds—how could they fit together?
Yet they began asking, “Why didn’t people who fellowship together also worship together? Is it possible to have a church where you also have your fellowship?” They realized that small groups tend to fade away, but the local, visible church is central, where loyalties are not divided among several groups or organizations.
Further exploring the possibilities, they asked, “Why do churches seem to be run by one man instead of by a group of elders? Because the Bible talks about elders (plural) who rule the church.” In addition to elders, what about denominations? Why not start an independent church? At this time, the older denominational churches were fading, and the new, independent churches were more exciting. Yet this fellowship group wrestled with God’s Word. They discovered that Bible talked about an authoritative connection between churches.
On the other side of town
Meanwhile, in early 1977, a couple moved to Billings from Ronan, Montana. They met a young single man, and they began a Bible study together. These three had a Reformed church background, and so they studied the doctrines of grace and prayed for a church. They put an ad in the Billings Gazette asking for people of a Reformed persuasion interested in starting a church to call.
One October Saturday morning, the ad was spotted by the fellowship group. They called and met that very evening. Within weeks, they grew to love and depend on one another for fellowship. They called themselves the Reformed Fellowship of Billings and wrote a Statement of Purpose:
“God has brought us to this point, much to our surprise.”
“Who is sufficient for this task? Apart from Christ we can do nothing.”
On January 5, 1978, Rocky Mountain Community Church had its first meeting for worship on Sunday morning.