Church Planting - Gateway Leadership Initiative

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in October 1997 (my wife also the same year) – the year I turned 30. I quickly became involved in the local church ministry and served as the youth leader for a couple of years. My wife Rowena and I relocated to another area in South East Queensland Australia where we quickly became involved in a new church and between working a fulltime job and raising a family we became involved in leadership.

First involved in administration, which eventually lead to leading evangelistic community programs that created a pathway for the un-churched into our local church. We saw many souls saved and stayed and continued to fellowship in our Church. In the meantime we attended Bible College and received our Diplomas of Christian Ministry and Christian Counseling, which allowed us the opportunity to serve the church as Associate Pastors.

During this time, my wife and I also had a property development business that was doing well. Developing commercial and residential properties from South East Queensland to Cairns in far North Queensland – Australia. In late 2005 we began to feel drawn towards the idea of planting a church. It seemed that every prophet that was in town and every visiting ministry would speak words over our lives that had something to do with church planting. For us it seemed the most ludicrous idea, one of many it seemed we had had over the years. I was self-confessed entrepreneurial junky that saw business opportunity at every corner – which I am sure, drove my wife crazy at times. So the thought of planting a church was the furthest thing from our minds. We weren’t your normal church planting stock. Prior to becoming Christians we had both been previously married and divorced and we had contributed our far share of wreckage along the way. As far as the “establishment” was concerned we weren’t the right candidates. However, when God decides to open doors, as much as men try to shut them, it’s impossible.

Things started to come to a head – it seemed that the more we tried to put the idea down the more we lost our peace, even relationships began to suffer. Finally we decided to consider the notion however the call to plant a church was quickly followed by a call to wait. Ok, that’s confusing, we where sure that we had heard from God on the matter and know we where getting the word wait.

Marketplace ministry became our focus and in early 2006 we received a word from the Lord that basically told us that we would be starting a business in the US. I remember that conversation with my wife so clearly. It went something like this “Babe I believe the Lord is telling us that we need to start a business in the US” to which she replied “come back and talk to me when you want to have a grown-up conversation”. But the call was so very clear, as it was before. But this time it was not followed by ‘Wait”. God was calling us to lay aside the ministry work we where involved in concerning the local church we were serving. That if we followed the business plan that the Lord gave us that He would partner with us and build a business that would be a catalyst that would influence Nations for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that along the way He would restore us to the ministry again.

Astounded by the word and confirmed again by the prophet we, by faith and a little trembling, stepped out and started a wastewater treatment business here in the US. We knew nobody, we had no contacts just a promise that God would provide all that we needed – resource, relationships, customers. Many told us that we were crazy to even try to attempt it.

Upon arriving in the US – the first 3 weeks were a complete disaster. No one was interested in what we had to offer. The municipal customers we were selling to could not use the technology we had because no one had the available clean water that our technology needed to make it work. By the third week, feeling completely defeated, myself and a couple of other Australians who came to help me sat in a hotel room, in Clearwater Florida, licking our wounds. They all wanted my head on a platter. Refusing to be a dartboard I left the room and found a treadmill to run on and have a firm conversation with God about His plan to destroy me. I was afraid, I was sure I had heard from God correctly – I followed the steps. It was like the devil was whispering to me that it was my entire fault, I was to blame, that there is nothing wrong with God – so there must be something wrong with you! I was alone and felt that my faith, which so clearly brought me here, had failed me – hope was slipping away. I began to pray, shortly complete peace fell over me and I heard the Lord say to me that He didn’t lead me to the land of the “Giants” to send me bankrupt, but to trust Him, have faith and simply believe. After I received that word – I was energized and ran back to the guys to share with them what the Lord had said to me. They weren’t very interested in hearing what I had to say at all.

That night it was my turn to sleep on the floor (on a tight budget we shared a room). During my sleep I had a dream. I was sitting down with the most amazing engineer. He began to show me engineering designs on blue prints that where amazing, all to do with water treatment. In the morning after I awoke I remembered the dream, then I noticed small pieces of paper all around where I had been sleeping. To my amazement I realized that those pieces of paper had those engineering designs on them. During that dream I must have been taking notes and drawing concepts. Upon looking them over I realized that the Lord had given me a brand new design that would achieve the wastewater treatment but instead of using clean water the new designed used the existing dirty water of which there was a plentiful supply. I knew immediately that this was the answer to our issues and I called my patent attorney in Australia and told him that God had given me a new design and that I wanted an immediate patent filed to protect it.

Six months later we were in full production, selling those systems all over the US and several years later back into Australia. The business began to grow and true to His word the Lord surrounded my wife and I with resources, relationships and customers. In 2008 my family and I moved to the US to live full time.

After the first year of being here in the US, a discomfort returned of which both my wife and I recognized. Business began to get difficult. We were attending church on a weekly basis and began to be increasingly aware it was not preaching Jesus and while we were there feeling the absence of the Holy Spirit leading. It was allusive but it was there. No matter how much we served and how much we tithed and how much we prayed or read our bibles life was becoming more and more miserable. It was in late 2009 that was the turning point of our Christian walk, My wife, who like me, was searching for answers but not getting results, started reading books about grace and the missional church by various Christian authors. She bought copies and we would read them together in bed before we went to sleep. I was skeptical at first but I knew I needed God to do something because I couldn’t see a way out of the increasing misery that was ahead.

We where so very far from our home and our country – we needed help. We started reading books and the bible with renewed vigor and with every new chapter and at every page we felt the heaviness lift off us both. Revelation like we had never experienced before flooded in over us. I thought I knew all there was to know about grace and holiness, righteousness and forgiveness, law and sin – but I was so very wrong. It was as though a veil had been lifted off our eyes. The pressure, performance, the expectations we had placed on each other just began to lift.

The word of God came alive again – like when we where first saved 18 years earlier. We couldn’t remain silent and so we began to share our newfound faith with all that would listen. We watch with joy all those who listened and began to receive the same revelation as we had and saw them for the first time experience a freedom that they had never experienced before. The message of Grace and the unmerited favor that comes with that right believing changes lives.

Our marriage grew stronger than ever before, it turned our business around, which continued to thrive and multiply, and over the next eight years our love for the American people grew.

By Late 2010 the pull towards being the church on mission was back. The dream in our hearts continued to grow. God was saying “its time!” Called to minister the love of Christ in this foreign land. Little did we know eight years earlier, that the call to plant a church was not for Australia but for the US and more specifically Escondido, a medium sized city in North County San Diego, California.

Church Planting

In late 2013 we began as a small house church with a core group of believers on mission. Through a church planting initiative that I trained with, a relationship with Gateway Church in Austin Texas began, that lead to a relationship with lead planter John Burke and Executive Director Gateway Leaders Initiative, Rick Dunn. Sharing a lot of similar ideals concerning Christ’s call for the missional church, this relationship inspired my wife and I to actively pursue a church plant for Escondido that would see Gods message of grace influence a city in a way that was different to the more traditional churches in that area.

Prayer and due diligence continued and by August 2014 a small church network gathering was launched in the City center in Grape Day Park with the focus of inviting all to [COME AS YOU ARE] and be apart of a Christ following community of believers on mission. By December 2015 God gave us a word, and it was simply this, Go, Engage & Believe. These three words revealed a God inspired strategy that would both direct and inspire to be that church on mission.

By late February 2015 The XChange Church collaborated with a local charter school, who generously offered and more suitable, community familiar, location in the center of the city right opposite Regal movie cinemas and Starbucks, where we began a Friday night gathering designed around building relationships without the barriers.

Thanks to the training, mentoring and amazing personal encouragement from John and Rick we developed a [COME AS YOU ARE] learning space that included live music, lots of food and time to build relationship.

Church Planting

Who We Are?

Many demographers estimate that 75% of American communities are now functionally un-churched and de-churched. Aging Christian churches sit on many community street-corners, faithfully confessing and worshipping Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World. And yet a growing majority of our diverse generation continues to exist in a cross-cultural, secular society far away from saving faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Its because of this solemn fact that lead church planters, Paul and Rowena Hatten along with their family, serve with a dedicated group of like-minded followers of Christ, who’s heart to see communities, cities and nations positively influenced by the gospel of GRACE inspires them daily.

The XCHANGE Church exists solely for the purpose of creating a culture within our generation that would reverse the decline and propagate a new call to church on mission. Its more than a church – its an XCHANGE!


Paul and Rowena Hatten along with their family serve with a dedicated group of people who have a heart to see communities, cities and nations positively influenced by the message of GRACE – one person at a time. No matter what a persons background or past, the message is the same for all, Jesus loves you for who you are not what your into.

In 2005, while serving as associate pastors at Coastlife Christian Church, Queensland Australia, they received a call to plant a church, little did they know the call was for the United States of America. Over the next eight years they’re love for the American people grew and they knew that the new church plant was to be in Escondido, California. Late 2013 The Xchange Church was birthed and today has grown and consists of come as you are people who are far from perfect and who are actively following Christ and serving the needs of Escondido and surrounding areas.

Paul and Rowena have been married for 18 years and have an adorable family. Paul loves camping with the family, endure bike riding, Australian Rugby League. Rowena loves camping, horses, horse back riding and both have a deep love for the word of God and the message of grace.