Owensboro—Drawing from the need for new, growing churches in rural western Kentucky and a passion to reach and make disciples of the people of McLean County, a 23-year-old, bi-vocational farmer/pastor and seminary student has committed to planting a church built on a foundation of discipleship and missional communities.
Will Troutman, a member of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, feels that “the Lord just really affirmed my calling for rural Kentucky people.”
“He tied my heart up with those people. I can’t imagine ministering to a people or loving a people anywhere else like I do these people in this particular part of the globe,” he said
Troutman, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, cited statistics from the Kentucky Baptist Convention that point out a need for more churches in the area. “Even if all of the Southern Baptist churches in McLean County were growing and stuffed to capacity, they still wouldn’t have enough room to fit all 9,000-something people who live in McLean County,” he said.
“We’re doing kingdom work. Our main goal is not a successful church plant headed by Will Troutman,” he added. “Our main goal is to influence McLean County with the gospel of Jesus Christ by making disciples.
“We need more than our little church to do that. Part of our plan is helping other churches to grow,” Troutman continued.
The vision is for the church plant to be a “seed bed” for leaders and resources for other churches within the community.
As a plant of Pleasant Valley Community Church, this new endeavor seeks to use Pleasant Valley’s approach to church—missional communities being the foundation.
“Through the generosity of God’s people at PVCC and strategic partnerships, we have linked arms with faithful men to help plant over 20 churches!” he said.
“Many of these churches are in major metropolitan areas, but we also believe that every rural community in Kentucky needs a solid, Bible-believing, missions-minded, gospel-preaching church. One of those areas that we have identified is Calhoun,” Jeremy Hatfield, executive pastor at Pleasant Valley said.
“We have prayed and planned for quite some time about planting a church there. Enter Will Troutman,” Hatfield continued.
“The pastors of PVCC discerned that Will is a remarkably gifted leader and an excellent preacher, mature far beyond his year,” Hatfield said. “Will expressed his passion for Calhoun and desire to plant a church there. We were beyond excited as Will was a direct answer to specific prayers we have prayed for quite some time.”
The congregation began meeting at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Calhoun in March 2015. The budding church plant now meets for Bible study two nights a month, a family meal one night a month and a missions/ministry night the last Sunday of each month.
“During family meal, we talk about Jesus, because that’s who we love. That’s what we’re passionate about. But really, family meal is just a good place to make connections with these people,” said Niki Troutman, Will’s wife, who pointed out the broad spectrum of ages and personalities that comprise their group.
The first week of February, they will split into two groups, meeting independently of one another, but still coming together for a family meal each month.
As the missional communities grow, leaders will be chosen, as well as deacons and elders. The group hopes to continue this multiplication process until they reach about 30 members.
They then plan to meet together for a Sunday morning service, “and if we like the way that feels with a few trial services, we will come together for an official church service and at that point become a church.”
While they are hoping that happens this year, the timetable is completely tentative, Will noted.
“Will’s heart is to start a church that is made up of families of believers that are on mission together in Calhoun. There are lost people in Calhoun. Will’s heart is to actively find them and serve them, and he feels uniquely called to Calhoun and to work as a bi-vocational pastor,” Matt Woodfall, pastor of missional community life and member care, said.
“Making disciples is our creed,” Troutman concluded. “We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples. If what we do doesn’t serve to help us make disciples, then we feel like we shouldn’t waste our limited time and resources doing those things.”
To connect with Troutman, visit his blog at ruralchristianity.com.