|Wayman Othell Mitchell|
October 9, 1929|
Mitchell, Arkansas, U.S.A
|Occupation||Preacher, Leader of Christian Fellowship Ministries|
|Spouse(s)||Nelda Mitchell (m. 1953–2016; her death)|
Wayman Othell Mitchell is the founder of Christian Fellowship Ministries or the Potters House. The Potter's House is a Pentecostal bible-based fellowship of 2,500 churches in 112 nations throughout the world with 51 ministering evangelists. Individual churches of the Potters House also use other names, including: The Door, Victory Chapel, Christian Center, Crossroads Chapel, and La Puerta. Mitchell is the senior pastor of the Prescott, Arizona congregation.
Wayman Mitchell states that he was converted as a born again Christian in 1953 and baptized in the Holy Ghost in 1954. He has been a Pentecostal pastor since 1960. Mitchell conducts "healing crusades," in the many countries where there are Potter's House Churches. Mitchell has been the pastor of many churches in the United States, and also in Perth, Western Australia where he was senior pastor for 3 years.
Mitchell was born on October 9, 1929 in the town of Mitchell in the US state of Arkansas. His father decided to move the family to Prescott, Arizona in 1933, in search of work during the Great Depression. There were five children, Wayman being the youngest. Arizona is where he and his wife Nelda currently reside. Mitchell was stationed on the Island of Guam between 1948–1952 for the U.S. military during the Korean War. While there he was head supervisor of the maintenance shop. During this time he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and offered a candidacy at an officer training school. After his military service he met Nelda Henderson at a dance in Phoenix in 1952. They were married on February 7, 1953. Ten months after the birth of their first daughter, she suddenly died of cot death. During this time Mitchell was unemployed. Jobs were scarce and unemployment was widespread. This was the turning point in his life. George Mitchell, Wayman's brother had been converted at a Foursquare church and invited the grieving couple to a church meeting. They both responded to an altar call and became born again Christians in 1954.
The Mitchells lived in Los Angeles while he attended L. I. F. E. Bible College in 1957–60, where he completed his Pastorate. Mitchell felt that he was drained of spirituality during this time, and felt that the school focused on academics rather than zealous spirituality. He felt that this was a detour. This greatly affected the way Mitchell discipled ministers, and preferred on-the-job training rather than bible schools.
Pastor Mitchell recommends ministers acquire the book The Foundations of Pentecostal Theology because the majority of the doctrine taught in CFM is expounded on in it. The book was written by two Foursquare ministers and published by L. I. F. E. Bible College in Los Angeles.
After pastoring several churches in Foursquare, Wayman Mitchell was given the pastorate of the Prescott, Arizona Foursquare church in December 1970. The church had approximately 35 people attending. Mitchell picked up some ideas from other church groups on how to evangelize young people, including the "hippie" generation. One of these ideas included "Music Scenes," or "Coffee Houses." As Mitchell began to see a lot of young people coming into his church, he started up these music services on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of those who joined his church were talented musicians who even had professional experience related to playing in rock bands. This enabled Mitchell to see even more young people come into his church as "new converts."
The Foursquare leadership agreed to allow Mitchell to plant Foursquare churches within Mitchell's Foursquare District, the Southwest District. The Southwest District, at the time, was under the leadership of Dr. John Holland. Mitchell and Holland had no real friction over Mitchell's sending out of men, whom Mitchell had personally trained, to start churches.
Mitchell's plan of discipleship also included having the men who were sent out also disciple the male converts in their churches. Mitchell envisioned a geometric multiplication of churches that would "reach the world," and this was emphasized as being urgent as Jesus was coming back very, very soon.
Previous affiliation with Foursquare
Mitchell originally began his ministry under the affiliation of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel and continued this affiliation until 1983. A growing dispute over Pastor Mitchell's fellowship, which he had built within the Foursquare, came to a head over Mitchell planting independent churches outside of the Southwest District, which Mitchell was under, and having those churches answer to his leadership structure, rather than honoring Foursquare's district leadership. Mitchell was given an ultimatum to honor Foursquare's structure, or leave the denomination. Mitchell chose to break off, and Foursquare required that Mitchell, and any of the other pastors breaking off with him, whose churches owned buildings and other church property, surrender the property to Foursquare. The set up of The Foursquare Gospel Churches is such that the international board owns all of the church properties. Mitchell was very bitter about this, but an offering was taken at a Prescott conference to buy his church building from Foursquare. Some of the other churches in Mitchell's fellowship, which owned buildings, were also able to buy them from Foursquare, and others had to vacate their buildings. Wayman Mitchell sent out a document to the churches that had left Foursquare to be a part of his fellowship of churches, and the document stated that all the churches would be autonomous, own their church property, and determine their own destiny. Mitchell was adamant about his fellowship not being a denomination. Pastors were told to independently incorporate their churches.
Mitchell renamed his church The Potter's House, and his organization is named Christian Fellowship Ministries. Mitchell had pastored the Foursquare church in Perth, West Australia, which he had sent a couple to pioneer in 1978, and the man who pioneered the church named it The Potters House. It was the first church in Wayman Mitchell's group to be called by that name. The first pastor was removed for moral failure, and a second couple was sent in to pastor the church. In 1981, Mitchell himself took over as pastor of the Perth church, and Greg Johnson was chosen by Mitchell, with Foursquare's consent, to take over as pastor of the Prescott Foursquare church. Due to increased tension between Foursquare leadership, and Wayman Mitchell, over Mitchell's church planting policy being independent of Foursquare leadership structure, Mitchell preached every night of the January, 1982 Prescott Bible conference. Mitchell denounced Foursquare as a religious institution that was "dead," and reasserted his control over the churches that had been planted through his discipleship program. As mentioned above, this quickly led to the break from Foursquare.
Affiliation with Praise Chapel
In the late 70s, while still a part of Foursquare, two brothers, Mike and Larry Nevelle, came into contact with Wayman Mitchell's fellowship. They were impressed with Mitchell's discipleship approach to training and sending out men to pioneer churches. These men left the Assemblies of God, and Mike Nevelle formed his own organization, Praise Chapel, which he modeled after Mitchell's fellowship. The two fellowships interacted, almost as one, and the pastors and guest speakers preached meetings and services in each other's churches. Larry Nevelle became a pastor in Mitchell's fellowship, pastoring a church in Phoenix, and then took charge of Mitchell's fellowship's churches in the Philippines.
There are a few books and booklets which have been published by the Potter's House and outline Wayman Mitchell's history, his teachings and sermons and various other aspects of his life and profession as the Senior Pastor of the Potter's House. The two main authors are Ron Simpkins and Ian Wilson both being pastors and at the time members of the Potter's House as they authored these books. These books ran out of their in house publications and cannot be obtained except via second hand copies held by members or former members of the church.
Ron Simpkins wrote a book entitled, An Open Door, which went through the history of the fellowship, and the men who were sent out to pioneer churches.
The latest book is Still Taking the Land https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Taking-Land-Wayman-Mitchell/dp/0981763499/ref=sr_1_1/275-5783655-2010654?ie=UTF8&qid=1375745796&sr=8-1&keywords=still+taking+the+land
- "The Potters House - International Directory". Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "History - The Potters House Christian Fellowship". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
- An Open Door a story of the restoration of the local church by Ron Simpkins ISBN 0-918389-01-1
- Ron Simpkins (1985). An Open Door. p. 1. ISBN 0-918389-01-1.
- Ian Wilson (1996). In Pursuit of Destiny - Biography of Wayman Mitchell. p. 4. ISBN 0-9699777-1-9.