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Why Plant A Church?

By Aaron Grijalva

I’ve sat in many church-planting circles recently and I am so hopeful for the future of the local church. I’ve met so many church planters who want to plant life-giving churches in different parts of the country to see God change our nation. In my conversations with these pioneers of faith I often hear, “I was just called to start a church a few months ago… and now, here I am.” 

I know God works in different ways, and my story is a bit different. I knew I was going to plant a church when I first got saved at the age of twelve and my pastor spoke into my life. Planting a church has been in my heart for about two decades now. I fought it and ran from it for a season, but after I finally accepted it, I spent the next fourteen years preparing for what God has planned for me. Everything I have learned and experienced has led me to this time and place — the time and place to plant Rise Church.  

Ten years ago I thought I was ready, but my pastor wisely told me to wait, and I listened. Five years ago I wanted to plant, but my pastor again told me to wait, and I listened. During the times of waiting I’ve poured my heart and soul into two growing churches and found that I’ve grown myself in the process. Recently my pastor came to me and said the time was right, and I listened. The confidence I have that now is the time comes from the knowledge that I’m planting with the full support and blessing of my pastor and the guidance and backing of a spiritual family of churches behind me. For that I am humbled, honored and extremely grateful. That confidence also comes with a realization that I don’t know as much as I thought I did a decade ago. I’m planting a church as a spiritual son… because truthfully, I didn’t earn or deserve anything my spiritual father, Pastor Erik Lawson, has given me through this process. 

One thing that hasn’t changed over all those years in ministry is my calling. I’m called to the local church. I’m called to serve as a pastor. I’m called to reach those who are far from Christ, to help them meet Him and experience something they can only receive from God. I’m called to help people reach their utmost potential in Christ. I’m called to help a growing, life-giving church change our city, state, country and world. I’m called to reach people and build lives. Every experience in my whole life has led me to this point. I’m too grateful to those who have sacrificed, fought for and believed in me to let them down. 

We all experience discouragement. I believe that’s why God created the local church — to surround us with people who believe in our dreams more than we do at times.

Together we will see all God has for us.

Together we will change the world.

Together we will RISE.



The Grijalva Family

Aaron Grijalva was born and raised in California where he received Jesus Christ as his Savior at the age of twelve and felt the call to ministry.

Aaron’s first pastoral position was Associate Youth Pastor at Jubilee Christian Center where he ministered to more than 600 students weekly at “Urgency Youth Ministries.” Aaron’s next step led him to serve as Associate Pastor with Jubilee Tri-Valley Church. In 2012, Aaron and his family made the move from California to Saint Louis, Missouri, where he held the position of Youth Pastor at Element Church under the leadership of Senior Pastor Erik Lawson. The student ministry thrived under Aaron’s direction and his leadership team grew. They saw average weekly attendance grow from 35 students to 250 students in less than three years. As one of America’s fastest growing churches, Element Church transitioned Aaron from Youth Pastor to its Senior Leadership Team in the role of Executive Pastor of Campus Development in 2015.  

Having benefited from the experience and guidance of several pastors over the past fourteen years, Aaron and his mentors felt the time had come to plant a church in the San Antonio, Texas area. It is Pastor Aaron’s vision to build a life-giving church where people do life together and reach their full potential in Christ.

Aaron met his wife, Erica, at church in New Mexico. They have been married for ten years and parent five boys:  twins Riley and Kellen, and Titus, Judah and Winston.