In the next two blogs, we’ll be discussing two types of church plant models: the prevailing church and the micro-church network. This week, our focus is on The Refinery Church with Casey and Aimee Graves.

Preparing to launch in late September, Casey and Aimee are currently making disciples through the approach of the prevailing church model. Their call is nothing short of extraordinary as God has been weaving their story to reach the lost in the city of Temecula, California.

Discerning the Call

Casey and Aimee have been married for 19 years and have been faithfully serving in ministry together since the start. They are originally from the Pacific Northwest and were most recently serving at an established church. In 2019 both of them felt the call to church planting. The church where they served desired to plant other churches, and they partnered alongside Casey and Aimee to send them out into the mission field.

As they were discerning where to plant, it was very clear God was ordaining their steps along the way. Their call led them to San Diego and, eventually, to the city of Temecula situated between San Diego and L.A. As they prayed through the process, both Casey and Aimee felt their spirits were aligned and experienced a different level of peace. As Aimee states, “We felt God opened the door more than closed it.” After sitting on the steps of City Hall, they made the decision to go home and pray about the city of Temecula. It was then they felt a confirmation this was where God was sending them.

Discovering the Context

Temecula sits right in the middle of San Diego and Los Angeles. Unlike the major surrounding cities, Temecula has a more traditional feel. It is more suburban-like with many families (especially young ones) and many events for the community. Church is also not a foreign concept in this area, and many of the people they are trying to reach come from church backgrounds where they attended a weekly service.

Because of a context that’s familiar with the faith, it helped Casey and Aimee to discover their model and how they could best make disciples in their community. It was clear that the type of model this city needed was an established place to meet and one that would provide a place for families to join alongside one another in a corporate setting. In their community, Sunday church is a cultural piece. If they chose to go outside these bounds and create a “new” model, it may not have been received well, potentially hurting their witness. They knew they needed to meet the people where they were.

Currently, The Refinery Church is meeting in a local elementary school, which their kids attend. This prevailing church model speaks to the heart of what this city needs. By meeting in a central location like a school, it helps not only to create a space for people to gather but enables more families to find connection to one another in a place that is personal to them. This is one example of using a space as a tool to further reach people for the Kingdom of God and help them be transformed into His likeness.

Mapping out the Journey 

The amazing benefit to having a public space to meet is the ability to plan for future steps. Casey and Aimee desire to care for everyone that walks through the doors of their church. Because of this, they see future movements happening within The Refinery Church in several months. On top of moving to two services to help members stay connected, they also plan to launch small groups this upcoming January. This will enable them to take their members to the next level in order to meet their spiritual needs. Their goal is to have a process in place to travel alongside them in their spiritual journey.

However, to create a culture of discipleship they are integrating simple, reproducible disciple-making communities to support the corporate gathering. They seized the opportunity to innovate and support the corporate gathering through groups of 2-3 that meet throughout the week in schools, restaurants, coffee bars, parks and homes with the flexibility larger groups lack. These groups will be strategic as we launch Life Groups in the new year.

Preparing the Heart 

As Casey and Aimee have demonstrated, staying in step with the Spirit is vital to their health and well being – for the church and for themselves. They have learned several lessons along the way that can benefit any planter, regardless of the model they choose.

First, they’ve learned the power of being able to pivot. When it comes to planting a church, there needs to be room for flexibility. God can give us a vision, but we may not know how that vision is going to be carried out. This is being open to whatever and wherever the Spirit is leading so that when the time is right, we have the ability to discern where God is calling us to move. While interviewing Aimee she expressed the importance of “coming in with a plan but being ready for God to show us another way to carry out that vision”. 

A second lesson has to do with trust. “Trust is one of the most important aspects when journeying alongside people in their faith.” They have learned they have to be willing to gain the trust of those around them and meet them where they are. This mentality has helped many people to learn how to commit and join them in making God’s Kingdom known.

Looking back and Reflecting 

Whenever we look back at our journeys, it’s easy to see the things we could’ve done differently. However, everything plays a role in our transformation and in coming to see how God has been moving in our lives from the start.

One piece of advice Aimee would give herself at the beginning of this journey would be to “create space for the Holy Spirit and ask ‘where do you want me to go today? What do you want me to do?’ We need to leave more space for that.” This is a posture every church planter and ministry leader should take as they are sojourning this world and working alongside others. Without the work of the Holy Spirit and yielding to his leading, we will find ourselves outside of where he called us to be.

Celebrating what God is doing

It is great to plan and exciting to envision a future ministry, but one area we must not let pass by is the ability to see what God is doing right in front of us. Aimee and Casey have expressed how much they love seeing how God is changing the lives of those around them and building a team. They celebrate the deep relationships they’ve built with their team members and often get sentimental when thinking about them. This is a beautiful picture of how God birthed a desire in their hearts 3 years ago and brought forth a team they always dreamed of having.

Three ways to pray for The Refinery Church

  1. Launch is September 25 – pray that the Lord would bring whom He has invited
  2. Team – continue to forge collaborative, meaningful and effective relationships
  3. Discipleship Culture – that everything we do results in disciples making disciples




October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.






Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash


Join our mailing list to receive notifications of newly posted blogs. This is the best way to stay up-to-date with InFocus' efforts to keep you moving toward your goals.

You have Successfully Subscribed!