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Vision for River valley disciples

Being a minister is my second calling and, depending on how you look at things, my third or fourth career- in other words, I have been wandering for a while. The nudge I received from God to become a minister when I was fifteen years old took several decades to act upon. Most of the time when God speaks, I seem to be listening to either myself or the world around me. So here I am, the minister for River Valley Disciples in Johnston IA. – listening to God.

I have served several Midwest congregations over the last fifteen years as either their settled minister or as a short-term interim minister. While serving, I was always trying to help congregations uncover, discern, and hopefully move forward into today’s world, a world that is full of different opportunities for important ministry. But God’s personal and important calling to bring forth a new church has finally found its place within my very being at River Valley Disciples.

I believe that God is actively redesigning churches one by one to get them moving into a new way of doing and being in ministry for today’s world. For congregations that have been in existence for decades to rediscover themselves is no easy task. Traditions, doctrine, bulky governance, and the ownership of outdated facilities is sometimes too big of a mountain to climb. Some churches will survive and a small number will take God’s challenge and redesign and give birth to new and exciting ways of being church.  What would happen if someone could help bring into existence a new church without dealing with all of the stumbling blocks of traditional and established congregational life? We are finding out with River Valley Disciples. My calling to help create, develop, and grow a church from nothing is now underway.

At the core of who we are as River Valley Disciples is a way to be an active and relevant expression of God’s love to the world around us. Our mission statement reads;

River Valley Disciples strives to be a Spirit-led gathering of all God's people that are, as one Holy body, involved in the ministry of Jesus Christ in today's world.

I have the privilege to work with ministry partners on the River Valley Disciples leadership team that has caught my vision of how to be a church in today’s world. They have helped give River Valley Disciples life. God has put these dedicated, gifted, and talented leaders before me and we are constantly being reminded that our work in Johnston Ia. is important, timely, and where we need to be.

 I envisioned many years ago a church that would be connected to each other, the Holy Trinity, and the community around the church (Daily Relationships). I imagined a church that would start from its’ very beginning to be open and affirming, anti-racist, and pro -reconciling in everything it does (Without Distinction). I dreamed of a church that would offer expressions of worship that would be uplifting, affirming, and moving (Dynamic Worship). I wanted to be a part of a church that would not have burdensome institutional organizational structures but instead, partner with people to do what God created them to do – respond to God’s love with love for others (Calling Forth). And finally, I wanted to help create a church that affirmed, supported, and welcomed all people for how they were beautifully and wonderfully created by God! (Diversity).

God has called forth River Valley Disciples into existence in Johnston Ia. I look forward to meeting and partnering with you in the Gospel message of God’s love through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as we all listen to God’s calling.



Pastor Sheldon Henderson

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