A new local church, led by Pastor Tim Kizziar, now has a regular meeting place, after gathering all summer in an open hay-storage barn at Hinterland Ranch.

The non-denominational Christian church has arranged with the Sisters School District to lease the high school auditorium on a regular weekly basis, and has adopted a name: "Vast."

Vast, an assembly which often numbers upwards of 250, landed on its name, says Kizziar, "because we want to constantly remind ourselves that He (God) is big and we're not."

In a small town that already boasts more than 10 local churches, Kizziar is confident that there's a place for Vast.

"Anything healthy reproduces," he told The Nugget. "In my opinion, the more unique expressions, the better. Individuals are unique. It's another example of God's creativity. There's not a one-size-fits-all church."

As to what niche Vast fills, Kizziar says, "The common denominator is, it's a group of people with a desire to pursue a fresh expression of 'church.' We're not better or 'righter.' What makes it 'new' is personal and interior; it's not external."

Until six months ago, Kizziar was the lead pastor at Sisters Community Church. At the beginning of this year, he made known the vision - one that he shared with much of the church leadership - to plant a new church in the Sisters community, with a variation on style rather than content.

It's important to be clear, he stresses, that "we're not throwing out the core historic things that we believe." He categorizes Vast Church as "doctrinally orthodox."

Missions Pastor Paul Rawlins echoes that. "We're not about changing the what, but changing the how. We're about reinventing our own hearts so we can be healthy to serve the community."

An integral part of the vision for Vast, says Kizziar, is summed up in a quote by author David Platt in his book Radical Together: "Don't build extravagant places; build extraordinary people."

"We don't view 'church' as what we do on Sundays," says Kizziar. "We are the church."

As such, the location, size and physical description of Vast's Sunday gathering place was fairly unimportant, he says, in light of their vision to maintain a focus beyond the four walls. "We chose the high school because it's already a natural, central gathering place,

and we like giving our resources - money, people and time - back into supporting the community. We see ourselves as grateful guests in the school."

On Sunday mornings, Kabum coffee is served. Roasted by Sisters Coffee Company, Kabum is the culmination of an ongoing mission project which Vast will continue to oversee, working to end the cycle of poverty in Eastern Uganda by partnering with area coffee farmers.

There's contemporary worship music and Bible teaching. "We're program-light," says Kizziar, who admits that he has experienced an about-face since his early days as a pastor, when he focused his efforts largely toward the Sunday service.

"Sunday is not 'game day.' The game is not in here; the game of life is out there," he says. "The purpose of life is not in here; it's out there."

Instead Kizziar, a volunteer flag-football coach, now likens Sunday gatherings to a locker room: a designated place and time "to evaluate, celebrate and anticipate.

"I will always believe that there is a significant reason for the people of God to gather together to hear God's word and to sing spiritual songs."

But, he adds, "We're not interested in religious

activity, but (rather) in

making Jesus relational and real. People are interested in Jesus, and they're not interested in church and church-ianity," he believes. "They don't want it to be detached from life."

Kizziar also teaches at Kiln's College in Bend. He and wife Anne have been married nineteen years and have four kids, ranging in age from six to twelve years old: Juhree, Jenna, Jed, and Josh.

Vast Church gathers Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at Sisters High School. Childcare/Kids' Church is available for ages six weeks through eighth grade. For more information, including events for high school students, see www.vastchurch.com.