ONE church with a big impact

By Deborah Rhodes

New Life Gillette is employing innovative, entrepreneurial outreach to be a transforming presence in their community.

Ask any church in America and most will tell you that outreach is an important part of their mission and vision. But for the Wyoming congregation of New Life Gillette and Reverend Mike Wilson, it is a vital part of all that they do.

New Life is a young congregation made up of many new Christians who work mostly in the local coal mines and oil fields. These dynamics mean that New Life operates on a smaller budget compared to other churches of similar size. This budget reality has led to Pastor Mike and the church leadership developing creative ways to be a transforming presence through outreach and benevolence in their community. The result of this creativity is their Strategic Outreach Plan. This plan has helped them to become entrepreneurial in the way they are able to fund and maintain their various outreach projects.

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about New Life Gillette’s ministries.


One of the biggest ways they carry this out is through a ministry called Blessings in a Backpack. This ministry feeds over 1,300 Campbell County public school children every weekend by sending home a backpack full of food to fill in the gap they will experience between Friday and Monday. The budget for this endeavor is nearly $200,000 annually. But by partnering with local businesses, New Life can fund this ministry, along with grants they have received.

Even more amazing is how they recruit the manpower needed to make this happen every single week. Food must be picked up, stocked on the warehouse shelves, packed in the bags and delivered to the schools. New Life then works with the school counselors who ensure the bags are discreetly delivered to the students. This volunteer base is made up of church and community members. There is a waiting list for people to volunteer and the volunteer slots through the remainder of this school year are already filled. Local businesses even partner with New Life’s Blessings in a Backpack ministry for team building exercises. New Life has also found ways to make this a fun experience by creating teams and competing to see which team can pack their bags the fastest.

Additionally, cards are placed in the bags with encouraging messages such as, “You are loved,” along with intentional prayer over the bags before they are delivered, which helps pull in the vitally important evangelistic piece of this ministry.

“We are unapologetic about the fact that all of our outreach opportunities must have an evangelistic bent. Everything that we do, we intentionally make a way that it meets a spiritual need as well as a physical need. We realized that when we brought in a discipleship element to our outreach efforts, they had a more long-lasting impact,” states Pastor Mike.


The Purchased Project, a fair-trade shop located in the lobby of New Life’s church building, not only helps artisans in Haiti provide for their families but also partners with two Haitian ministries: Mission Lazarus and ViBella.

The church also hosts an annual craft show, which is the largest in the region with nearly 150 booths, supporting Gillette’s local Women’s Resource Center with the proceeds.


Because the New Life campus has the largest auditorium in Gillette, they host Christian concerts, which include nationally recognized artists. These events draw in many who otherwise may never visit their church or hear the gospel

Using the Acts 1:8 model, and with a goal of being transparently generous, New Life supports 12 missions, three in each area: Gillette (Jerusalem), Campbell County (Judea), Wyoming (Samaria) and globally (Ends of the Earth). At the heart is the desire to be present and engaged as ONE church in seeking and serving the lost, just like Jesus did. Through these outreach initiatives and service opportunities, New Life remains others-focused and committed to their mission to “encourage people to come as they are and become the people God created them to be.” Because of this commitment to God’s mission, they are seeing transformation happen in each of these areas.

“I am emotionally bound to the mission of introducing unbelievers to the love of Jesus Christ, and we are commanded to prioritize the mission of reaching lost people,” says Pastor Mike. He encourages other pastors and churches to look around them to find a need as a starting point and creatively brainstorming how they are uniquely positioned to meet that need.