Jon Bricker is the lead pastor for Charis Community Church in the Bloomington-Normal area of central Illinois. The church just celebrated its 15th anniversary in August, but in 2021 the Lord began to give Jon a new burden and vision. That summer, he turned 45 and intentionally sought the Lord asking, what do you want me to do for the next 15 years?
“It was during this time I began to sense a call to plant in one of the small towns around us,” he recalls. “As I began to share this desire with my wife and friends, leaders and mentors, I received affirmation time and time again.”
God Goes Before Us
There are many small towns in central Illinois, so Jon and his wife, Beth, began praying and doing all they could to discern exactly which of these small towns the Lord might be calling them.
Jon went to lunch with a good friend who lived in Metamora. He shared with him this new calling and asked about Metamora. That day, Jon realized God was answering prayers.
“My friend proceeded to tell me that not only had he and his wife been praying for three years for a church planter to come to Metamora but that just the previous week, he stepped down as an elder from their church in Peoria so they could invest in the mission in Metamora. Now, just a week later, I’m telling him how we’re feeling led to plant in a small town in central Illinois!”
Metamora and its neighboring town, Germantown Hills, is a growing area just outside Peoria with a combined population of 7,500. It’s a very family-oriented town with much of its community life revolving around the local school activities.
While Metamora is a beautiful community and a great place to raise a family, it is not the kingdom of God. People are hurting, confused, fearful, and seeking their identity and purpose apart from Christ. It’s here that Jon and Beth hope to plant Partridge Point Community Church. While Metamora is a beautiful community and a great place to raise a family, it is not the kingdom of God. People are hurting, confused, fearful, and seeking their identity and purpose apart from Christ. Klick um zu Tweeten
God Makes a Way
Jon recently asked his friend in Metamora if he and his wife would host some gatherings at their house this fall. They wanted to start meeting people in Metamora and share some vision for the church. Jon says his friend felt intimidated because although they’re involved in activities and leadership roles throughout the community, they hadn’t hosted many gatherings.
But their friends took a step of faith and said “yes” to hosting a tailgate party before the high school football game. (They live right across the street from the field, and high school football is a big deal in Metamora.)
Jon says, “The Lord opened the floodgates, and more than 125 people came to the tailgate party! It was a great opportunity to meet people and share our vision for the church plant. It was rewarding to see our friends take this step of faith and the Lord bless them in their faithfulness.”
So far, Jon has learned that the people of Metamora struggle with the same obstacles to the gospel as he does. He says, “We’re so distracted trying to build our little kingdoms that we miss the kingdom of God. We seek satisfaction and identity through our work, our family life, our place in the community, our reputation, etc. But we miss or minimize the surprising and wonderful news that God has come to us in Jesus to bring forgiveness of sin and life forever with God.”
God Keeps Us
Jon has been involved with a group of area pastors committed to partnering together for church planting in central Illinois. He’s seen God at work unifying these local churches and showing their support by inviting him to meet with their elder teams, preach at their churches, and cast vision for the church plant. Jon says, “Churches coming together for the sake of gospel-centered church planting is a move of God I’m humbled to be part of.” “Churches coming together for the sake of gospel-centered church planting is a move of God I’m humbled to be part of.” —Jon Bricker Klick um zu Tweeten
As he continues this new church-planting journey, Jon shares some lessons he’s learned along the way:
- Colossians 4:2 tells us to be watchful in prayer, to pay attention, and to discern what the Lord might be doing in and around us. Look for the Lord’s leadership through his Word, the desires and burdens he puts on your heart, the opportunities he gives you, the stage of life you are currently in, and the affirmation from others.
- Look for partners. We need help from other people, churches, organizations, and networks. God doesn’t call us to do it alone.
- I’ve got a lot to learn. Although I helped plant a church before, this has been a great opportunity to go back and learn things I didn’t learn the first time and re-learn some things I did. I’ve been telling myself, “this is no time to be a know-it-all.”
He adds, “I look forward to this next season of ministry, confident that as God moves through central Illinois, he does so through his church. I want to spend my life on the move with my king and with his people. May God move mightily through your community and mine for his great glory.”