Gregory Ammondson, a fourth generation Montana native, planted Dayspring (Florence Foursquare Church) just over a decade ago in Florence, Mont., where he lives with his wife, Maureen, and 18-year-old son, Zoe. Gregory gave his life to Christ after having been a student at the University of Montana, where he studied journalism and philosophy.
“I was looking for spiritual reality in Eastern religions and all kinds of philosophies,” the pastor recalls. “But I ended up attending a Foursquare church in 1980, and discovered the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
From that point forward, Gregory’s life changed radically. He surrendered his life to Jesus, and began walking in connection and accountability with the church. Subsequently, in 1985, he took a position as youth pastor at Christian Assembly (Missoula Foursquare Church) in Missoula, Mont.
“After college, I worked in public relations and considered a job as a reporter, but I realized that God was calling me to be one who shares the truth of the gospel and testifies of His eternal glory,” Gregory explains.
Six years later, in 1991, Gregory took a bold step and moved to central Mexico as a missionary supported in part by Christian Assembly. He served as a Bible teacher and worship leader, and partnered with national leaders to plant a church in Nayarit, Mexico.
After returning from the mission field, Gregory worked as an assistant pastor at Christian Assembly before launching a church plant in 2000 in Florence—a bedroom community in the Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula. Gregory was 44 years old. Planting a church in Florence met a practical need; Florence was one of the faster developing communities near Missoula, with lots of growing families.
“The heartbeat of missions is expanding and starting new works,” explains Gregory. “I have always been committed to proliferating new churches, so initiating a church plant in Florence seemed like a natural step to take.”
His experience church planting in Mexico equipped Gregory for his assignment in Florence, particularly with an increased understanding of spiritual warfare. Gregory believes that his experience in central Mexico gave him hands-on training in spiritual warfare that has helped him to stand strong and persevere as a faithful pillar of truth in his community.
“I especially learned to put my dependence on God rather than in programs, and this understanding has shaped my vision and strategies for a cell-based, training-and-sending model at Dayspring,” the pastor shares.
One of the scriptures that guides Gregory in his mission to lead the church in Florence is Rev. 2:10-12. He is inspired by the description of spiritual warfare and the promise of victory for those who believe and follow Jesus.
“These verses in Revelation serve as a foundation for keeping ministry simple at Dayspring,” he elaborates. “In spite of the deception and oppression that is present in our world, the Lord Jesus has made a way for all people to receive revelation of their identity in Jesus Christ and receive the gift of His presence forever.”
Gregory describes his church as a network of small groups and ministries that are striving to expand the kingdom of God through discipleship and missions.
“We are not a program-based church,” he states. “Our main mission is to develop friendships and seek the presence of God, and cultivate His presence and healing power.”
One exciting outcome of the church’s prayer and missional endeavors was a surprising phone call from the local junior high school principal last winter. The principal desired to build a partnership with the church for an after-school tutoring program for underachieving children. Gregory believes this phone call was the direct result of two years of prayer at the school’s flagpole, every other day.
Dayspring is now maintaining an after-school program with tutors and volunteers, and the school sends children to the church four days a week from 3:30–5:30 p.m.
“We prayed for years, and now a bridge is being built whereby we can serve children in our community and eventually see whole families come to Christ,” Gregory says. “The children’s grades improved, and behavior problems were eradicated. This was truly a miracle for me.”
Gregory relates to John 21, where Jesus asked, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” (v.15, NKJV). When Peter responded in the affirmative, Jesus instructed him to take care of His sheep—i.e., love other people.
Gregory expresses his vision that the church will simply demonstrate the love of Christ with actions, supported by prayer. Dayspring plans to develop further outreach to children involved in the after-school ministry through family nights that will feature dinners and movies. And when the children and their families ask questions, the church will be ready to tell the truth and explain the hope of Jesus.