Around the time God started stirring in Chase Rogers’ heart to plant a church, Rogers also started dating his now wife, Christy.
“I had gotten connected with Shelby Baptist Association and their church planting strategist,” he said. “Shelby County is one of the most unchurched counties in the state, and they kept talking about Helena and the need for a church there that was focused on reaching the community.”
Then every time Rogers would go to visit his girlfriend — who lived in Shelby County — he would drive right through Helena. God continued to work in his heart, and within a year of getting married, the couple bought a house in Helena and started getting to know the community in hopes of planting a church.
“We were getting ready to launch, we’d set the date, and our sending church was there to support us and help us,” Rogers said.
Within a month and a half of preview services, they had a group of 50 gathering for worship at the intermediate school there in the community.
And then everything came to a grinding halt.
The pastor of their sending church left, and he was their liaison to their main funding sources, which still weren’t finalized, Rogers said.
“Sitting there with people who were excited about a new church and having to stand there and say ‘we don’t know what we’re doing next’ was really hard. My wife and I were paying a lot of the bills, so we had to put things on hold.”
Making ends meet
Trying to figure out what to do next was difficult, and in the end, Rogers worked other jobs to make ends meet. He joined the preaching team at his sending church to help them get through the difficult time they were walking through too.
“Then they got a pastor who came in last February (2020), and he was on board for helping with church planting — but then COVID happened,” Rogers said.
It seemed like an endless set of roadblocks at first, but then Rogers and his wife realized something unexpected was happening — God was getting them right where they needed to be to plant the church He had in mind all along.
“COVID may have shut the doors of churches, but it opened up the doors to let the church out into the community,” he said. “In our cul-de-sac, people were starving for community. We were able to build more relationships with our neighbors that way and meet the needs of more members of our community.”
Throughout the past year, they’ve held neighborhood and community gatherings like a movie night in their yard. They also held a fundraiser in fall 2020 called Boo for Our Blue for a neighbor who is a Helena police officer and was recovering from a tragic motorcycle accident.
Now they’re looking at starting a community Bible study.
“We don’t have to have a building or a rented space … to start planting a church,” Rogers said. “Not a day goes by that we aren’t talking with our neighbors in our cul-de-sac. It just took being here longer, it took going through COVID, it took God’s timing to get it all going. Now we have more people who are excited about launching.”
Orchestrated by God
Rogers said he feels like it’s no accident God drew them to Helena, where many people have not heard the gospel or are blinded by the things of the world. He asked for prayer for people who will answer the invitation to come to a Bible study and for him and his wife to continue cultivating relationships in the community.
“God orchestrated us being here and this happening exactly the way it did,” he said. “It was hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”