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Rolling Back into Springfield

Stone Moss returns to minister in the Missouri city he vowed to never see again.

When Stone Moss sensed a prompting from God while working out at the gym one morning, he knew for sure the message, Go to Springfield, meant any other Springfield except Missouri.

Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, in a dysfunctional home setting with methamphetamines and other drug abuse, Moss “experienced every bad thing this city has to offer.” Once he left, he had no intention of returning.

At 16 years old, Moss found himself fighting for life in a Springfield hospital intensive care unit with bacterial pneumonia. Although still in the drug-filled home environment, he had managed to stay in school because he liked sports. He also had become more aware of God after his mother, Darrah Shores, separated from his father and managed to get clean. Lying in the hospital, Moss promised God he would turn his life around if he recovered. Miraculously, he did recover, and decided he would have a better likelihood at success by joining his mom, living in North Carolina.

Not everything worked out immediately. An ill-advised young marriage ended, and Moss needed serious growth in his walk with the Lord. But he got involved at Highest Praise Church in Shallotte, North Carolina; earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Bible Institute and Seminary; and began developing his gifts and calling by serving at Highest Praise plus teaching and coaching at the church’s kindergarten through 12th grade school, Southeastern Christian Academy.

During that time of growth, Moss, now 26, met his wife, Madison, then a single mom also learning to respond to God’s leading. They married in 2020, and the family now includes Knox, 4; Maverick, 14 months; and a new baby on the way.

Then came the morning at the gym. Feeling convicted about his immediate “no way” reaction,Moss wondered if the prompting constituted a test of obedience. So he decided to say “yes” and see what happened.

“As soon as I did, I amazingly received a download of love for Springfield, Missouri,” Moss says. The couple changed their plan of building a house in North Carolina and instead headed to Missouri.

As they prayed, they had questions; they know many good churches in Springfield offer great ministry, but the city still experiences high rates of crime and drug abuse. They wanted to identify families not being reached, and Moss, who still has family members caught in addiction, hoped to reflect the love of Christ to more of that population as well.

Pastor Mike J. Santiago of Focus Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, met the Mosses at a 2021 Church Multiplication Network (CMN) Launch Training event. Santiago, a CMN lead team member, has continued to encourage the Mosses in the planting journey.

“I’m so glad to be part of a fellowship that supports people of all age demographics in their calling,” says Santiago, a third-generation pastor and church planter. “Stone and Madison Moss are definitely living faith-filled lives, following God’s leading.”

The Mosses feel drawn to young families and Springfield’s college and university students, realizing many want a relationship with God but are not attracted to traditional church methodology. The ministry plan includes creating safe places that “don’t look like church,” where young people can get solid biblical truth. A particular area of concern, Moss believes, is the need for training in Bible-based finances, as high debt-to-income ratios are a root problem causing strain on marriages, failure to prioritize family and devotional time, and in worst-case scenarios, temptation to crime and addiction.

These goals have led to the development of a launch team for Limitless Church, planning its official open Sept. 25 at a local YMCA. The Mosses have been meeting with other area pastors and attending CMN training. To increase the appeal and contact with their target demographic, the church is starting with small gatherings and personal contact rather than being location- or event-based.

“Jesus taught leadership principles by building relationships,” says Moss. “With so many people still feeling unloved in spite of a variety of church options, we need to be about showing Christ rather than just promoting a new church.”

In keeping with that philosophy, the leadership team is currently laying groundwork, leading by example in finances and serving. Moss encourages members to prioritize family and set loving, appropriate boundaries; he personally hopes for a miracle for his relatives who are still struggling, but has established firm rules about interaction with his children.

As Limitless Church moves toward launch, the team is creating social media visibility, with a big push planned for eight weeks just prior to launch. Regular “interest parties” and “link-ups” are held in parks and other places.

The church vision, “There Is More,” and its mission of “Encounter God, Love People, Find Purpose,” are explained in depth on its website, and an active Facebook presence announces interest gatherings. A ministry trailer, donated by James River Church in Ozark as a surprise at a recent CMN conference, is a big help in taking ministry to where the needs are.

Stone and Madison Moss have appreciated the friendship of James River Church community care pastor Chuck R. Greenaway and his wife, Cheryl.

“It’s encouraging to see God redeeming Stone’s story,” Greenaway says. “Coming from a place of such pain, now he and Madison are using their own stories to relate to others in pain. We are blessed to be part of helping launch this ministry.”

Cynthia J Thomas

Cynthia J. Thomas worked for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions for six years before becoming primary caregiver for her father, a World War II veteran. She has served as a counselor for victims of domestic violence and women facing crisis pregnancies. Cindy and her husband, Phil, a schoolteacher, volunteer in youth outreach and have three adult children and one granddaughter.