Our call to plant began as I (Jacob) was serving at First Baptist Church in Casey, IL as Director of Student Ministries. In the summer of 2018, I was not aware, but God began to stir up a call to plant a church in me as I took a trip to Chicago to visit church planters and came to know of church planting for the first time. Upon returning from that trip, we (Jacob & Makenzie) had a conversation about the fact that church planting could be in our future. And we left the idea there.
Soon after, I had the opportunity to lead FBC Casey through a study called "I Am Going". When I gave people the opportunity to write on a white board where they were going or what God was calling them to do, Makenzie approached the board and wrote "to plant a church someday". This was one of the first of many moments that the Lord graciously placed us on the same page in our thinking. From then on, we began to seek the Lord to ask if that was what He would call us to do next, and by His grace he answered that this would be next.
We refer to this moment in our story as the time that we put "our yes on the table" for God to call us anywhere He wanted us to go for the sake of the gospel. It was also at this time that He put a large city in the Northwest United States on our hearts. This would be a move far from anything we have ever known, and that was intimidating to us. We look back now and know that God was asking us at that time if we were really willing to lay aside all that we knew and step out in faith that He would take care of us. The moment we said we would go anywhere, even across what seemed like the world, God removed that place as an option for us.
It was at this point, during the summer of 2019, that we knew God was telling us that we needed to stay where we were for now. And so, we continued serving FBC Casey and continued our commitment to see individuals growing in their faith and coming to know Jesus through the gospel. In December of 2019, God brought new friends into our lives that would help us identify and affirm God's calling and help us know where God might be calling us to make Jesus known. At the very same time, we had begun reading the book of Jeremiah for our discipleship groups and came to Jeremiah 1:4-10. At the end of this section of Scripture it says this:
"Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. and the LORD said to me, 'Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.'"
We knew, through the counsel of friends and through God's Word that He was calling us and that this would be the next thing we would do for Him.
This is not where the story ends, but really where it launches. We began to pray. Asking God to lead us to the city where He was calling us and asking that God would break our hearts for those who don't know Jesus there. We prayed over specific cities and regions and the only place that kept coming up was St. Louis. God, in His kindness, continued to cause us to be on the same page. So we contacted one of our new friends, Rayden Hollis who pastors Red Hill Church (our sending church), to ask him what our next step was. This is where the story gets really interesting and we see the Lord's hand at work.
In March of 2020, Rayden set up a vision tour for the Gobles - this was planned for us to visit three cities in the St. Louis area that are in need of a gospel work. As we all know, this is also the month that the world began to shut down due to a worldwide pandemic (I assume you've heard of it?)! God, again, was so gracious in allowing us the ability to have this vision tour before we were all locked down for months. On this trip, we visited three very different cities that are all in need of a new gospel work.
We committed after this trip to take two weeks of consideration to see if the Lord may provide us with a clear "yes" to our question of "Is He calling us to move to one of these cities". While on our vision tour, we fell in love with one place in particular - both with the city and the people that we met while we visited. With a love for a city and a desire to reach a city and college students in that city, we knew in April of 2020 that God was calling us to move and plant a church in Lebanon, IL. This is the place where my (Jacob) first conversation with a resident ended with them saying to me "we need you here."
We praise God for giving us clarity in our calling and the place and people He was calling us to. We are so confident that the Lord can change the world through His work in our city. At this time, we have so many feelings: fear, confidence, hope, doubt, and an undeniable yearning to reach Lebanon and reach the world for the glory of God. We can't wait to see what God continues to do in us and through Rooted Community Church!
Some have wondered what this journey looks like for us. Here is what the next year looks like!
NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD
TRAINING & RESIDENCY
After walking through an in depth assessment process with the North American Mission Board, we now enter a training pathway. This includes intentional church planter training called "Send Network Training" along with a year long residency with our sending church, Red Hill Church. Here we will be developed as leaders, be blessed and encouraged, and sent out on this journey.
PRAYER, DOLLARS, AND PEOPLE
Church planting requires serious partnership. During this year, our desire is to gather a group of committed partners who will support us by praying for us, contributing financially, or by being a member of our core team. God calls each of us to be a part of His work in different ways. Our desire is to provide the ability and space for you to say yes to Him in partnership with us.
Church planting is missionary work. This requires understanding the needs of the people who live in the community and then clearly communicating the gospel to them. This year, we will put down our roots in Lebanon and do the work of listening, loving, learning, and sharing the gospel.
How is God calling you to be a part of our journey?