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Heartland Church Planter Retreat

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Heartland Church Planter Retreat

May 19, 2024
Heartland Planters

Photo: (L to R) Jeff Gauss – Heartland Church Planting Director/Grand City Station, Grand Forks, ND; Jim Hays Jr. – River Market Community Church, Kansas City, MO; Tim Brown – Life Church, Fargo, ND; Carlton Anderson – Ignition Church, Bennington, NE (Not Pictured: Jayson Wittrup – Faith Baptist Fellowship Westridge Campus, Sioux Falls, SD)

Five Heartland church planters gathered at Ponca State Park, Nebraska on November 13-14 for camaraderie, conversation, and vision. The only real agenda for the time was to get to know each other – hear each other’s stories, struggles, joys, and offer encouragement to one another. We ate BBQ, grilled steaks, and talked about what God is teaching us, how we’re currently being challenged, and how we can support one another going forward.

The location for the retreat was significant. Not only is it centrally located in the district, but the park sits on the Missouri River, which flows through four Heartland states (ND, SD, NE, KS) and Missouri. The river is an image of how, even though our district is spread out across five mostly-rural states, the same God flows through all of us and unites us in Him. It is easy to feel alone and isolated in such a vast geographical area, but we are not alone. Just as many smaller streams flow into the Missouri River to strengthen its flow, we are strengthened when we come together in Christ. We truly are better together!

We have a lot of territory to cover (both geographically and spiritually) in our district, but I am excited about the group of men that have answered God’s call to step out in faith and risk everything to further His mission in the Heartland. Church planting is not for the faint of heart. It is unquestionably the hardest and most-rewarding thing these men will ever do in their lives. Today, would you please pray for and offer a word of encouragement to one of these courageous men? (Or one of our other church planters: Joe Marino, Todd Bumgarner, Adam Stahr, Tyler Wilterding, Brandon Brillhart, and Zach Ochoga).

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can partner with others to help plant healthy vibrant churches in spiritually impoverished communities, please contact me at or (218) 689-9993. Together we can change the spiritual landscape of the Heartland!

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