|A sweet moment during baby dedication|
Sometimes I feel a little weary of all it takes to run my site in this little corner of the internet. On top of that I partner with a new church planter each month to give you an opportunity to hear their story and support their ministry. And these things are on top of everything else I do. I'm sure you can relate.
But each month when I receive a new lady's ministry story it makes it all worth it. I love hearing how God is using ordinary people to touch and change lives. This month I'm thrilled to partner with Amy Reasoner and her church plant in Ozark, MO.
Amy, tell us about you, your ministry, and your writing.
My husband Jason and I are the pastors of Life360 Church’s Ozark campus in Ozark, Missouri. Being a pastor’s wife was not really in my plan for my life, but I knew from a pretty young age that ministry would figure into my adult life somehow.
The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, they hired a new youth pastor at my home church. Over the summer, I watched him with our students. I listened to him preach. I saw his heart for God and for other people. We fell in love in a matter of months, and before I knew it, I was a pastor’s wife. We served as youth pastors together for 4 years after our wedding, before resigning our position to become church planters.
We have two little boys, Caleb, who just turned four, and Garrett, who is two and a half. I am blessed to be able to stay at home with them most of the time, but I also work two mornings a week at our county library. I’ve always been a huge bookworm, and someone who loved words, so working at the library and writing are both a natural outflow of that passion.
I view my writing mostly as another arm of my ministry within the church. I have the people sitting in our congregation in mind with most of what I write, but I love that the internet gives me the opportunity to reach a much broader audience. I try to be as transparent as possible, so I write about a little bit of everything. My faith figures pretty heavily into what I write, but I also write about my kids’ silly antics and my hobbies, including what I’m reading.
|Jason and Amy at the Christmas service.|
What’s your church planting story?
As I already mentioned, Jason and I were long-time youth pastors at my home church in Springfield, Missouri. I think I could have been happy there forever. We loved working with teenagers, and I was comfortable.
But in 2010, God began stirring our hearts and preparing us for something new. At the time, we were overseeing our church’s discipleship program for college-age students. We started asking what it really meant to make someone into a disciple of Jesus and whether or not church the way we saw it was accomplishing that. We had also just brought home a brand-new baby, and were processing the enormous responsibility of what it meant to raise him to serve God, and how our faith community was going to be an obvious part of that.
We knew we weren’t the first pastors or parents to wrestle with these questions, but the more we prayed and studied the Scriptures and searched our own hearts, the more we came to the conclusion that the church we wanted to be in, the church we wanted to raise our children in, didn’t exist yet. And we knew that God was asking us to start one.
We were blessed to be a part of a multi-site church that had a heart for our region and for church-planting. When we approached our lead pastor with the things God was placing in our heart, he was nothing but supportive. And in June 2012, we had the privilege of being commissioned by our home church to launch a new congregation in Ozark, a suburb to the southeast of Springfield.
|This is what a baptism looks like in a church plant.|
Life360 Ozark is part of a multi-site Assemblies of God church. The sites are not identical to each other in style, size, or personality – they aren’t cookie-cutter churches or a franchise model. Rather, we think of ourselves and our other campuses as a large, extended family. We are one of six Life360 campuses in southwest Missouri: two are in Springfield (the large city that anchors the area), and the others are in Republic, Hartville, and Fordland.
Our church is in Ozark, which is about halfway between Springfield and Branson. Ozark is a town of about 20,000 people. It used to be predominantly rural, and although it has grown more suburban in recent years, it’s still a very friendly town with a down-home, farm community feel. We love everything about living in Ozark. We’ve made it our home for six years, and it was our love for this community that drew us, through God’s leading, to planting a church here.
|The people of Life360 Ozark worshipping together.|
Why another new church?
Despite the fact that there is very nearly a church on every corner in Ozark, there are lots of people here who still need Jesus. In many ways, this Bible-belt, church-saturated, middle America is very hard soil for the gospel. People have heard it all before. They’ve seen that program, been to that event. Their hearts are hard.
We are praying for a mighty move of God in our community, because we know that only the Holy Spirit is truly able to draw people’s hearts to God, and we are working to demonstrate to our city that we a community of people who truly love each other.
We view the other churches in our community as an asset, not as competition. It’s not an us vs. them mentality. It’s going to take every single one of our churches to reach this community for Christ in an effective way. In fact, we believe so strongly in working with other churches that we share our building with a church plant of another denomination. Our congregation meets in the morning, and theirs meets in the afternoon. We are working together as co-laborers in the harvest field where God has called us.
|Local to Ozark? They're ready to welcome you into their family.|
In church planting, finances are usually a concern and often a struggle. What does it mean for a church plant for people to come around them and support them with something as simple as an Etsy store purchase?
First of all, let me say that we unequivocally trust in God to provide for us. Scripture is clear that when we are faithful to follow God in obedience, he is able and willing to meet all of our needs, and we stand on his ability to help us make ends meet whether or not everyone in our congregation is obedient to tithe off their income.
That being said, your support means THE WORLD to us. That others around the country who serve Christ alongside us would believe in what we are doing enough to “put their money where their mouth is,” so to speak, strengthens our hearts as pastors and reminds us of why we are doing this in the first place.
Finally, it would help us with ongoing needs that are a constant concern and matter of prayer. Right now, (and we have shared this with our congregation, so it’s not anything top-secret) we are barely making our budget, and even that we are only doing with the help of our sending church, help that will not continue indefinitely. We are constantly looking at ways to lower our expenses as a church, but we can only cut so much, and at some point, to balance the budget, we have to increase our income. Our people have generous hearts, and we give all the glory to God for the ways we have been able to give generously to missions and local charities as a church over the last 18 months, but once our budget is met, we would love to be able to give away even more of what receive as a church, and your support would enable us to do that.
So that's Amy and her church. Don't you just love their hearts? If you've been moved by her story and want to support Amy's ministry all you have to do is place an order in the shop during the month of June. A portion of all sales will directly to Amy's church plant and you'll add some meaningful beauty to your life.