Early in 2022, Pastor Shane and Sarah Boyd felt a call to simplify their lives. They wanted to model a kingdom mindset for their three kids by downsizing and focusing less on material belongings, but they couldn’t have guessed where the journey would lead them.
As they considered their next steps, God brought a specific community to the Boyd’s attention, planting the seeds for a movement that they spent the next few months preparing to launch. According to a promotional video for this new ministry, “In the past few years, there has been an explosion of families seeking a new way of life — downsizing and living in RVs and vans across the nation. This nomadic trend represents a brand-new mission field all over the United States.”
The growing community of nomads includes young families in recreational vehicles (RVs), young single people in vans and retirees in motor homes. Pastor Shane says he and his family realized that no one was actively ministering to these nomads.
As an example, he shares about a retired woman named Dee who had been living in her RV for seven years. When she met the Boyds, she explained that she hadn’t attended church regularly in all that time, though she watched occasional online services and prayed off and on with friends.
For many nomads, their transient lifestyle makes finding a home church difficult. The Boyds also recognized that online church doesn’t provide the sense of Christian fellowship, or koinonia, that people are seeking. Many nomads they meet at campgrounds don’t go to church at all.
Initially, the Boyds wanted to start “ministering to people exactly where they are” over the weekends when they traveled as a family. However, as they felt the call to downsize, a bigger picture started falling into place.
They sold their home in May 2022. Immediately, God blessed them with a chance to buy a truck and trailer and get on the road. Now, the family of five lives in their RV full-time. They homeschool, traveling between campsites every two to three weeks and initiating meaningful connections with the people they meet. This is the foundation for Gathering of Nomads.
“One of the things that we knew God was showing us was that this was not going to be a traditional church plant,” Pastor Shane says. “What we are doing is planting people — which we all know that the church is made up of people.”
So, it’s not so much a church plant as a movement. They’re partnered with Village Church in Red Rock, Arizona, which supports them in prayer and makes some financial contributions too. In 2023, the Boyds plan to partner with 10 new leaders who can begin their own nomadic chapters, even as they visit 20 different campsites. The hope is for each chapter leader to minister in the campgrounds they find themselves in, while also identifying other to take on a chapter of their own. Currently, the Gathering of Nomads is growing, with five new chapters added to the movement as of January 2023.
For some, this may look like a Bible study; for others, it might be time spent sharing about their faith and story around the campfire. Pastor Shane emphasizes food, fellowship and faith as the main components of the ministry.
At the core of Gathering of Nomads is the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8. Ultimately, Shane says, “one of the things we’re most excited about is the simplicity.” Gathering of Nomads is a ministry they want to be as straightforward as possible.
It may not be easy, but it is simple. They just listen to the people around them, reach out, build community and work to offer ongoing discipleship. The goal is always to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) — wherever they might be.
Jerah Winn is a communication assistant in the Communication and Administration Division of The Wesleyan Church and studies writing and honors humanities at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana.
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