The Dirt Roads Network (DRN) hosted its first Church Planting Boot Camp, October 5–6, 2018, in Lamont, Kansas, at Lamont Wesleyan Church (LWC). In a town with a population of 28, LWC is a church of 150 people. LWC certainly understands the importance of church planting in rural America—it’s planted one church and is in the process of planting two more churches.
Twenty-five people attended, including church planters in nearby Emporia and Iola, pastors from the Kansas District, district officials, board members from Radiant Life Church in New Strawn and LWC and students from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The event served as training for current and prospective church planters, an informational vision time for those in leadership and to provide vision and inspiration to college students as they examine ministry callings.
Pastors John and Danielle Freed of Waterline Church in Fishers, Indiana, led teaching sessions, using their experience as church planters to resource attendees. The couple, who planted Waterline in February 2011, walked attendees through a step-by-step church planting process.
“Our goal for boot camp was three-fold: equip missional leaders with a practical how-to-guide for launching a missional church, assist missional leaders in the development of their vision and calling and provide opportunity for networking among church planters who are on the same journey,” said the Freeds. “It was an honor to work with this group as they seek to impact rural ZIP codes within their own spheres of influence.”
Dirt Roads Network is one year old, a vision given to Rev. Steve McVey, lead pastor at LWC, November 2017. “The Dirt Roads Network is committed to planting at least 15 churches in southeast Kansas and establishing a collective of a rural church planting centers across the country,” said McVey. “Specifically, we want to reach rural ZIP codes with the truth of the gospel.”
McVey and the DRN team hope to establish a residency for those called to be “rural missionaries.” The residency would focus on providing training to rural pastors at an affordable cost and establish a nation-wide collective of churches ministering in rural communities in North America.
The boot camp ended on a high note as we prayed over and anointed each participant,” said McVey. “The sense of God’s presence was very real. He moved our hearts and called us to kingdom building.”
To date, McVey has shared with seven Wesleyan Church districts about the DRN vision and has established partnerships with some of them. DRN also plans to hold more boot camps across the country, each focused on rural church planting.