Ask Lead Pastor Alex Chai what the soon-to-open Word of Life Fellowship church will be like and a few words keep popping up.

Words like community, generations, need and service.

"We want to provide a place where people can not just believe things about the Bible, but also a place where they belong," Chai said.

Word of Life, at 1737 King Ave. W., is slated to open its doors for its first service at 10 a.m. on Feb. 13.

Chai said it will be a "multi-generational church" for people of all ages that "represents what the family is."

There will be a focus on identifying specific needs in the community and working to provide spiritual-based solutions.

"It's a place for people to come to get practical help and spiritual help from the Bible that's relevant to their lives," Chai explained.

Some early ideas tossed around by staff include holding special sessions for single parents and opening up the church for community events.

Chai is the only fulltime staff member, but Word of Life already has a dozen other volunteers to round out its workforce. They range in duties from accounting to pastoral services, from youth and family services to communications.

It will be the fifth Foursquare Gospel church in the area, joining Faith Chapel and Hope Center in Billings and churches in Laurel and Red Lodge. The Los Angeles-based Foursquare has more than 164,000 churches and meeting places in about 140 countries, according to its website.

While Word of Life may be the new kid on the block, Chai isn't a newcomer to starting up churches. He and his wife, Debbie, have personally planted Foursquare churches in Polson and Missoula.

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"It's a lot like raising kids and you could say this is our third child," he said.

With that, he hopes that previous experiences will help facilitate the process, since the Chais plan on staying in Billings for the long haul. They made the decision to start the church last September and have been holding weekly prayer meetings at Knights of Columbus that average 75 to 100 people.

"It helped us to understand what to anticipate, both the excitement and the challenges," Chai said. "Hopefully, we've learned what to do and what not to do."

It appears one thing they've learned is how to prepare for the opening. In addition to the staff, the church has a slick website that, in addition to church information, lets you know the favorite ice cream flavor of each and every staff member.

"We're very determined and we're very passionate about the local church but we're ordinary people that like to have fun," Chai said.

They've also taken out newspaper ads and rented two large billboards on the West End.

"My brother-in-law, (Olympic freestyle skiing gold medalist) Eric Bergoust has a saying, 'Go big or go home,'" Chai explained. "We really believe this is our final church plant so that's what we want to do."

The building, which used to house a furniture store, features a wide-open entry, lots of sweeping arches and plenty of room for worship and other activities.

It is still under construction but should be OK for Word of Life's opening services on Feb. 13. They currently lease the building, but have the option to buy, something Chai said they'd like to do.

And even if there's still a little work to be done, it's more about the message than the roof above, Chai said.

"In the Bible, Jesus is called the word of life and we want to keep it about Christ and people and community," he said.

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