A Rural Church Planter’s Story

Here at V3 we are grateful to be part of many church planting journeys through our Learning Cohorts. It a deep joy for us as a missional church organization in seeing how God allows our ministry to bless those who allow us to partner with them. The stories from around the globe inspire and encourage us and we hope to do the same for our readers by highlighting a few. We are honored to come alongside our church planters as they labor to ground their leadership and missiology in community.

Dan and Kelly Magan from The Well are one couple whose church planting journey we have been blessed to share.

Dan and Kelly grew up in rural areas, familiar with church and who God was, but not yet a followers of Jesus. When they chose to follow Jesus, they couldn’t help but wonder how different life would be if they knew Jesus at a younger age. This was the question that drew them towards planting a church.

While in the preliminary season of planting much of the church planting they saw around was urban. The Magans did not feel called in that direction. They felt very called to the middle of nowhere. They visited a little bible study in Nelson County. The people there were praying, “God send us someone to plant a church here”, and for the Magans, it was settled.

What were your hopes for the place you would plant?

When God called Dan and Kelly to rural Nelson County, Virginia, he gave them a vision to love their neighbors, with no strings attached.

They wanted their community to know that their relationship and involvement was not based on church attendance or professing faith in Jesus.  In a place where a number of churches have come and gone, it was important to have a permanent space to reach out to their neighbors from. People are taking notice and responding. The Well has gone from 15 people meeting in a basement a year ago, to just recently having to rent out additional space for an Easter Service.

A Place for Connection

They envisioned a community center with an internet cafe, where a church happens to meet. Surprisingly in 2018, many rural places still rely on slow, expensive satellite internet connections and getting the fibers run to that café was no small undertaking, but this would meet a tangible need in Nelson.

Now The Well is running an internet cafe where job seekers can create resumes and print them and kids can come to do homework. They see many regulars at the café. The head of the department of social services has been able to refer job seeking clients to The Well. They offer free refreshments, people come enjoy, and connect to the internet and each other.

A Place for Play

Nelson County is 435 square miles and has no public parks.  The Well is seeking to fulfill the vision of a young lady who tragically lost her life in a car accident – by raising money to build a playground for the town that will provide a safe space for the neighbors to connect. And connecting is already beginning as they plan for the community playground, the local high school carpentry class will make picnic tables while another local man has committed to provide the materials to build a pavilion shelter.

The Magan’s see the playground and the community center as tangible ways to extend the love and grace of the kingdom to a rural town of 33 people per square mile that are fighting some of the same struggles as many urban centers, including a high percentage of meth addiction. They know that these struggle flourish unabated when there is a lack of alternatives to choose from. Providing alternatives, which also makes ways for connecting, is their way of sharing Christ’s love to their rural community.

How have you seen transformation in your community?

Their goal has been to show that they love people and they don’t have to fit a mold. They want their neighbors to know they want something for  them not something from them.

In a place with a lot of church culture assumptions, they want to communicate that “a building is not a church.  Our people are the church.” This has been transformative in their rural context.

How was your Learning Cohort helpful to you?

The Magan’s V3 coach (Mike) was pivotal in the early life of their church. Dan recalls a specific time when he was ready to quit. He had been trying different things and was struggling when walking thru airport he recalled Mike’s words of encouragement:

“Hey Dan, you need to get back to your original vision.  Stick with it. Sounds like you are swaying from it a bit, Dan stick to your vision that God gave you”

That vision was to make space where people could gather and create community. God called them to this people and this place. God continues to remind them who they are and what their mission is about.

Join a Fall ’18 Learning Cohort

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