by Pastor Jack Owens
In the Spring of 2014, as the leadership of Cornerstone of Ames considered the people involved in our church, we discovered that there had been well over 100 people who had attended our church from Boone at various times, many on a regular basis. The Cornerstone elders asked if I would be the point person to begin organizing an effort to plant a church. I agreed to do that. After an initial interest meeting showed us there were enough interested in us seeking to plant a church in their community, we began. We focused on developing two areas: organizing small groups and beginning a “soft” start with monthly worship services.
At the beginning people to fill two key positions were needed: a worship leader and a person to organize and lead our ministry to children, ages newborn to 2nd grade. God provided people for both positions very quickly. At about the time we were praying about starting our effort in Boone, Justin and Sarah Funk were in the process of moving back to Iowa from Logan, Utah. Justin and Sarah were involved in Cornerstone Church of Ames for several years before moving to Utah, and when they heard about what we were planning, felt that God was involved in their return to Iowa. Since Sarah basically grew up in Boone, and we were seeking to plant a church in there, it was a great fit for them. Justin is self-employed in an IT business. We are grateful they chose to move to Boone for several reasons, one being that Justin is an excellent worship leader! He volunteered to lead our worship in music even before they left Utah. At about that same time God worked in the heart of a young wife and mother of three little girls in Boone who was involved in Cornerstone to give her a desire to help with our children’s ministry. As I prayed about this need, I thought of Jennifer Hanson, this godly young woman who has lots of energy and is a great organizer. I asked her if she would be willing and she said, “yes!”
Other key positions we need were small group leaders. We had had one small group in Boone for a few years, but wanted to start at least four more. God provided the people we needed to lead those groups and by this spring we had begun four new groups.
Another need we had was a place to meet for our monthly worship services. It was a chore visiting many sites all the way from church buildings, to schools, to bars, until God provided just what we needed in the Boone Country Fairgrounds community building. We met there once a month from October to April. We couldn’t meet after April because of the fairgrounds spring and summer schedule. At that time a church that had been planted in Boone over 100 years ago contacted us and talked to us about the possibility of using their facilities. Though the church is old, a newer facility was built just 15 years ago. After much talk, prayer, and their small congregation voting to invite us, we started having monthly services at the Boone Biblical Memorial Church building in May. They voted to allow us to use their facilities monthly until we need to start meeting weekly. At that point we would be allowed to meet weekly and use their building for any other meetings we need.
This church has a great outreach to the needy in Boone and, in partnership with several other churches in Boone, they open their facilities each Thursday to provide a free meal for those who are in need. Often they feed 50 to 60 people on those nights. We have joined them in serving meals for this ministry. There was one thing the church building lacked and that was class rooms for our children’s ministry. God provided for this in the form of a mobile class room facility that one of Ankeny’s Middle School’s put up for sale. We were able to purchase the unit and get it moved and installed next the Boone church building this past week. It will be a great addition and has over 1500 square feet of floor space that we will put to use for our children’s ministry.
There was one more need we had, and that was a full time pastor. Since my job was just to get things going, from the beginning we prayed that God would provide us with a young man who would feel that God was leading them to move to Boone, plant his life there and lead this new church effort. Pastor Troy Nesbitt led the way in seeking for such a person. Many men were visited and interviewed. Finally, one of our small group leaders suggested a young pastor he had heard speak several times. That young man was Matt Yoder, assistant pastor of a church in Marshall, Minnesota. Through a series of interviews and meetings, Cornerstone Church extended a call to Matt to be the pastor of Cornerstone of Ames, Boone Campus. After prayer and discussions with his wife, Heather, Matt accepted the offer. Since that time in early June, by the grace of God, they have be able to sell their house in Marshall, MN, and purchase a nice house in Boone. Matt, Heather, 3 year old Joy and 9 month old Brandon will be moving to Boone during the first couple of weeks in August and Matt will start his new job, August 15.
Our plans will be to have a “hard” launch date of Cornerstone Church of Ames, Boone Campus, September 13, when we will change from once a month evening worship services to weekly worship services that will be held at 10:30am each Sunday. We are grateful for what God has already done, and we look forward with great anticipation for what He will continue to do as we go “full steam ahead” to participate wholeheartedly in what God is already doing in the Boone community of over 12,000 people. We are joyful to be a part of God’s people who are seeking to help fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of the nations.
Please be in prayer for the Yoders as they get settled in a new community, and that Cornerstone’s Boone church will grow in numbers of people reached for Jesus Christ, and for growth in the spiritual depth of His children in the months and years to come.