My Riskiest Move for God: Kansas? You Want Us to Go to Kansas?
Five Christian leaders tell what God did when they took a surprising step of faith.
By Laurie Montague
As I sat on the front row ready to take my place as the keynote speaker for the women’s retreat, the director concluded her introduction with these words, “And now, here’s our fearless leader.” Of all the things that could be said of me! I would never describe myself as a “fearless leader.”
In fact, at several points in my life, a more accurate description would have included the words “scared silly!” Yet, like many others, I’ve learned that making risky moves for God often requires putting aside fear and stepping out in faith.
It’s always been interesting to me how many of the faithful struggled with fear. Again and again throughout the Bible, God’s faithful heroes—Moses, Joshua, Mary, Joseph, and many others—have been instructed not to be afraid when making a risky move for God.
For my husband, Greg, and me, our assignment pales in comparison to delivering the Israelites from Egypt, claiming the promised land, or safely bringing the Messiah into our world. But for us, it was a risky move when God called us to Kansas to start a new church.
After graduating from Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University, we settled into ministry at a growing church in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we both had meaningful ministry positions, good friends, and family nearby. It was a perfect blend for a young couple starting out in marriage and ministry.
But God had different plans for us. In the late 1980s, we began to feel restless. God seemed to be calling us to start a new church. Like a sacred echo, this idea showed up again and again, confirming that God indeed wanted us to listen.
So, in 1989, we heard him when the Christian Evangelizing Association of Kansas asked us to consider coming to Johnson County, in the suburbs of Kansas City, to plant a new church.
To be honest, my first response was, “Kansas?” Like most, I’d seen Kansas as the state you fly over or drive through on your way to somewhere else. I imagined the endless wheat fields, prairies that are flatter than a pancake, and the ongoing search for Dorothy and Toto. It felt a little risky.
In addition, I also felt the risk of what we were leaving behind. In Indianapolis, we were serving with a full staff in a growing church where we were known and loved. Yet, God seemed to be leading us toward an unestablished church with no staff where we knew no one. It felt like a risky move.
But the more we prayed, the more we felt a strong sense of God’s peace, presence, and provision. I distinctly remember the Lord assuring me of his presence as I prayed one day. It was as if he said, “Will I not go with you? Will I not give you everything you need? Will you trust me? Will you follow?”
Immediately, my mind was flooded with verses of Scripture, songs of faithfulness, and reminders of his presence and provision in my life. And as his Word washed over me, it became easier to put aside the fear and step out in faith.
We made the risky move to Kansas and amazingly, God went with us! In fact, he had already been there—preparing the way and providing financial resources, gifted servants, and faithful friends. On April 8, 1990, SouthWoods Christian Church was successfully planted in Overland Park, Kansas. Nearly 27 years later, Greg and I continue to serve God and people there, leading them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.
It hasn’t always been easy. But God’s been faithful, and we’ve done our best to be faithful too. Recently, an old friend from our college days remarked, “You and Greg were planting churches before church planting was cool!”
I smiled, grateful that God called us not to be cool leaders, or even fearless leaders, but to be faithful leaders planting and growing his church in the beautiful state of Kansas.
Laurie Montague serves as director of adult ministries at SouthWoods Christian Church (Overland Park, Kansas).