Have you ever felt just so led by God but unsure of the steps needed to get to where He’s calling you?
As I listened to Mark’s story this week, I imagine that’s what it felt like when he and his wife, Amanda, were making the decision to move to the Bay Area from the Quad Cities area near Chicago to plant a church.
In his teens, Mark felt that he heard God tell him that he was going to be planting a church in “northern California”. As a kid in the MidWest, that didn’t seem exceptionally clear but as he grew older, Mark felt the need to visit the Bay Area to see what came about from a trip.
As you’re probably thinking, a visit to the Bay Area seems so vague and non-specific. Mark and Amanda felt the same; like they were on a quest with no tangible destination. However, Mark couldn’t get the phrase, “X Marks the Spot” out of his mind. So, naturally, he pulled out a map and looked for an “X”. Ironically, he found one in Vallejo, at the intersection of I-80 and Highway 37. (Even more ironic is the fact that Mark grew up near the I-80 in Chicago and met Amanda at Indiana University on Highway 37). So they packed their bags and off they went for a short trip to the Bay.
I think it’s important to note that Mark and Amanda were happy at their church in Indiana. They were near family and friends and the comforts of home. This trip to California was out of obedience to the Lord and a step towards what they felt He was leading them into but the details were unclear.
I think this is where many of us get stuck; in the knowledge that God is calling us into more but fearful because the steps to get there are not clear.
Mark and Amanda didn’t let this fear get in their way, they took steps and asked for confirmation along the way. Along their journey, there were some serious roadblocks but they trusted that they were in California for a reason.
Mark connected with Pastor Mark Smallcombe at Experience Church in San Francisco and he and Amanda decided to make the Bay Area their home. God spoke clearly to them about planting a church in Green Valley and, today, he and Amanda co-lead Experience Church's multiple locations.
This August, Mark and Amanda will be named Lead Pastors of Experience Church. They are excited to continue to do ministry alongside founding pastors Mark and Gail Smallcombe. Looking back at the last 9 years, Mark can see all the small details that have led to today. His story encourages us to take a leap of faith into what we believe might be next, regardless of fear and doubt.