CORYDON, Iowa – Pastor Garrett Trunk walked into the gas station on Highway 2 and asked the owners – a couple – if he could clean their windows at no cost.
“Who are you guys and why are you doing this?” one of the owners asked.
“Jesus would serve people,” Trunk said. “We’re a new church in town. We do small groups through the week and we bring all of those together to meet at the bowling alley for a service. We’re a real simple church.”
Trunk and his wife began spending time with the couple and built a relationship with them – sharing meals, playing games and talking about the Lord.
It is a scene that has been played out over and over in Corydon – a small southern Iowa town of 1,500 – and other surrounding towns the past couple of years as Trunk formed small groups and planted Hope Baptist Fellowship at the Bowling Green Lanes, where as many as a dozen people worship on any given Sunday.
How does a church begin meeting in a bowling alley?
In this case, it was all about relationship.
Trunk approached the owners of the bowling alley and struck up a conversation with them. He learned they had not been to church for a while and were looking for one, but their schedules were an issue. The couple told him they had a conversation with someone else about starting a church right there in the bowling alley, but if fell through.
“They sat down with me and said, ‘You can meet here for a service,’” Trunk said, and Hope Baptist Fellowship was born. It has been meeting for more than a year.
In addition to being a North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planter, Trunk is also the pastor at Centerville Baptist Fellowship in Centerville. The church is a restart and it is benefiting from the same relational approach Trunk is using in nearby Corydon.
As both a pastor and church planter in rural towns located 23 miles apart, his work is difficult and visible progression is often slow, but he continues his work, knowing God is preparing the way.
In May, First Baptist Church (FBC) in Bethany located in northern Missouri – about 65 miles from Corydon – invited Trunk to preach at a revival and after hearing his vision for spreading the gospel, FBC Bethany decided to help finance the plant in Corydon.
“Our spring revival was based on Acts 1:8 and each night we had a speaker that dealt with the specific call to missions – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the end of the Earth,” said FBC Bethany pastor Ned Nugent. “Garrett spoke on Monday night (Judea). His sermon dealt with the great need to reach people with the Gospel and his work in Corydon and the surrounding area.
“I believe that people truly got to hear the reality of the work of planting churches and that it was not as simple as putting up a sign and watching people flock in … The Holy Spirit was truly working that night in the hearts of His people and there was simply no doubt that we needed to partner with Garrett.”
As the Baptist Convention of Iowa attempts to expand from 106 churches in the state to 200 by 2020, Hope Baptist Fellowship serves as a good model.
LEE WARREN/contributing writer