First Baptist Church is an independent, fundamental, Baptist church located in Columbia Falls, Montana.
Organized July 8, 1945, we have ministered to the people of the Flathead Valley for nearly 75 years, and we would count it a privilege to minister to you!
“Family” is one of the best words to describe our church community.
Like a family, we have believers in all stages of spiritual maturity, each one growing at his own pace, as we endeavor to become more like Jesus Christ.
Like a family, we deal with the normal struggles of daily life. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from problems, but God has provided solutions to those problems in His Word. As we worship together each week, we find strength for the day and hope for tomorrow!
Like a family, we genuinely love and care for each other. God never intended us to live the Christian life alone. The special bond of fellowship we enjoy as a church forges friendships that truly feel like family.
Pastor Brian Ernsberger - Senior Pastor
Pastor Brian accepted the call to be our senior pastor in early 2021. Both he and his wife were trained at Bob Jones University and have served the Lord together in church ministry for over 28 years. During that time—from church assistance and Christian school education to church planting and pastoral ministry—the majority of those years were served in Washington state. They are also the thankful parents of two daughters.
In serving with our Montana church family, Pastor Brian is looking forward to continuing on the path established by the previous pastors—that of maintaining “a Bible-centered church with a Christ-centered message.” His heart’s prayer for our ministry is to work together in reaching those who need Christ and for all of us to grow together in Christlikeness (Galatians 2:20; II Peter 3:18). For hobbies and interests, he enjoys woodworking, visiting aviation museums and reading aviation history, as well as outdoor photography and hiking with his family.
Pastor Marc - Youth Pastor
Pastor Marc accepted the call to be our youth pastor and moved his family from Colorado in 2002. He and his wife Diane both graduated from Northland Baptist Bible College and have served in youth and camp ministries for over 25 years. His ministry passion is to disciple young people so that they will be ready to take their place as the future leaders in the church. Marc and Diane have three children, Kaitlyn, Naomi, and Jason. When it comes to hobbies, Pastor Marc enjoys hunting, fishing, and all the great outdoor activities Montana has to offer. He also enjoys wood working, and tries to fire up his smoker as often as possible!
We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, which is the inerrant, authoritative Word of God.
We believe in the Trinity of the Godhead; one true God, eternally existing in three distinct persons.
We believe in the deity, virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We believe in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit by whom believers are called, regenerated, baptized into Christ, indwelled, sealed, convicted of sin, disciplined, gifted and filled for service. The miraculous, or sign gifts were given to the first-century church for a unique purpose, and subsequently ceased at the end of that century.
We believe in the personal existence of angels, demons, and Satan.
We believe in the creation of the universe as recorded in Genesis, by the direct act of God, from nothing, in six literal days.
We believe that man was created in the image of God as a perfect being, and that he fell into sin through willful disobedience. This sin nature has been passed down to all people.
We believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith, on the basis of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. One who is truly born again will give evidence of spiritual life and will be kept saved forever.
We believe in the local church which is an assembly of immersed believers and God’s chosen institution to both proclaim His truth and advance His Work in this present age.
We believe the Bible commands separation unto God which naturally results in separation from worldliness, apostasy, and doctrinal compromise.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment. We also believe in the pretribulational rapture of all believers, and the one-thousand year millennial reign of Christ on earth.
We believe in a literal (grammatical / historical) interpretation of Scripture from a dispensational point of view.
We believe that God created only two genders - male and female, and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life.
The following beliefs have been held dear by Baptists through the ages.
These biblical teachings further define who we are and what we believe.
The Bible (and for church matters, the New Testament) is our only rule for faith and practice.
2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:3-4, 2 Peter 3:1-2
The local church is complete within itself and independent of any external controls. It is accountable to Jesus Christ as its head, and no religious hierarchy outside that church may dictate its beliefs and practices.
Colossians 1:15-18, Ephesians 1:22-23
Every believer has equal, direct, and personal access to God without the aid of any other person. Every believer stands as a priest before God and may boldly enter the throne room because of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
1 Peter 2:5,9, Revelation 5:9-10, 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 10:19-25
Baptism follows salvation and is always by the mode of immersion. Communion, or the Lord’s supper, should be observed regularly as a memorial of our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection. While these ordinances are significant in the life of a believer, they in no way convey grace or have power to save. Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32, Ephesians 2:8-9
Every man has the right to interpret the Bible and worship God as he sees fit. With this privilege also comes the responsibility to answer to God for his particular interpretation. Rather than giving man a license to do as he pleases, this truth emphasizes the fact that man will one day give an account of himself before God. Romans 14:5,12, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
Salvation and baptism by immersion are prerequisites to join a local church.
Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:41,47, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 4:1-4
The pastor is to care for the spiritual needs of the church. The deacons are to care for the temporal needs of the church - they minister or serve. Other offices may be added to facilitate the business of the church, but they are not required. 1 Timothy 3:1-15, Acts 20:17- 28, 1 Peter 5:1-2, Titus 1:5-7
God requires believers to separate in these areas:
- Unto God - Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 2:9
- From the state - Matthew 22:17-22, Acts 5:29
- From the world - Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Peter 2:9
- From apostasy - 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 1 Timothy 3:14-15
- From a sinning brother - Matthew 18:15-17, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
Pastor and Mrs. Ralph Werner came to the Flathead Valley from Pennsylvania as missionaries under Columbia Basin Mission in 1943. The Lord burdened their heart for the town of Columbia Falls, which at the time had no resident pastor. Arrangements were made to buy the old Kennedy home and lot, the current church property of 1.6 acres. The house was suitable for both living quarters and services. Their first services were held on July 8, 1945, beginning a legacy for the First Baptist Church which is now in its 75th year.
Ralph Werner pastored the church for 36 years, retiring in August, 1981. During this time, he lead the church in several building programs. The porches of the Kennedy house were enclosed and used for Sunday School rooms. In 1954, construction of a new parsonage began, and it was completed the following year. This allowed the old house to be used entirely for ministry purposes. That same year, the Werners were able to drop their missions support as the church became self supporting. With continued growth, the need for a new facility became clear. Construction of the new building began in 1957. First services were held 2 years later, and a dedication service followed in 1962 after the building was completely finished. Through the 70's the church continued to grow, and ground was broken for an addition in 1980.
After the Werner’s retirement, the church called Pastor and Mrs. Jerry Buchanan, who began their ministry in January 1982. They moved from Kansas with their young family and have faithfully served for 38 years. Upon finishing the new addition in 1985, the need for further expansion was recognized. A building fund was established and plans were developed for a multi-purpose facility. Several projects took place in the intervening years: the parking was paved in 1993, the adjacent lot to the west was purchased in 1994, a new garage was constructed in 2006, and the old garage was moved and the parking lot expanded in 2008.
Recognizing that the church is not just the facilities, but rather the people, Marc and Diane Dobson were called in 2002 to minister to the youth. They continue to serve in many areas including youth group, sunday school, vbs, camp, and music.
In 2017, the church broke ground for a multi-purpose building. With a gym, fellowship hall, full kitchen, youth game room, and small apartment for visiting missionaries, this building will be greatly used to impact the community for the cause of Christ. By God's grace and provision, except for the original purchase in 1945, the church has never had to borrow money for any of these building programs. Every penny has come from the tithes and offerings of faithful church members, and a large part of the labor from the men.
Nearly 2000 years ago Christ told His disciples; "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!" The First Baptist Church of Columbia Falls is evidence of our Lord’s faithfulness to keep His promise. We recognize that this is His church, and that He alone deserves credit as we celebrate 75 years. Yet God in His sovereignty has chosen to use people to accomplish His plans and purposes. He has used scores of men and women here at First Baptist, who have trusted Him as Savior, and served Him as Lord. Praise God for the legacy of faithful men and women who have gone before, and are examples for us as we keep on keeping on. God only knows what the future holds, or how many more years we will have. One thing we do know, the Lord will continue to build His church till the last soul is saved and this church age is over. To that end, may we be faithful to do our part till He comes or calls us home to glory!
First Baptist Church Columbia Falls
827 9th St W Columbia Falls, MT 59912