By: Christa Meland
For someone who’s only 27, Josh Meyers has faced a lot of challenges. At 16, he was depressed to the point that he became suicidal. It was a testimony he heard on Christmas Eve that reached him in his darkest hours and prompted him to give his life to Christ.
Fast-forward five years: While married with a young daughter, Meyers was thrust into single parenthood after his wife left him for his best friend. It was his faith that helped him through that trying period.
“I’ve been in that hopeless place and I’ve walked that path of loneliness,” said Meyers, who has since remarried. “Now I want to help others who are walking it.”
That’s exactly what he’s doing. Meyers is on his way to becoming a licensed local pastor in the Minnesota Conference, and he’s planting North Summit Church—which meets inside of Blaine United Methodist Church. (The conference is planting seven churches in seven years through the Reach • Renew • Rejoice campaign, and North Summit is one of them.)
Embracing the ‘weird’
Meyers describes North Summit as “a community of weird people” and says the thing he hears most often is that it’s a place where people can fully be themselves. The church, which uses the tagline “daring to be different,” targets Millennials between 18 and 35. It attracts people immersed in the local music and arts scene—but also individuals who have been through divorce, adultery, addiction, homelessness, and other painful experiences.
Before starting North Summit Church, Meyers helped plant a Baptist church in Andover and worked as the youth, worship, and media pastor at Main Street Church, a United Methodist congregation in North Branch.
Right now, North Summit has a core group of about 30 people. Preview worship services open to everyone started in late October and continued throughout the remainder of 2016—and the official public launch took place Feb. 5 with about 100 in worship. Meanwhile, the core group members meet Sunday evenings for prayer and worship, networking (for example, they might watch a football game together), and conversations to help cast a vision for the church they want to become.
Rick Cavell, 31, is one of the people in North Summit’s core group. He became a Christian in 2013 after experimenting with Wicca, Buddhism, paganism, and a number of other faith traditions. He said he ended up at North Summit because God has placed it on his heart to help church plants grow and thrive—and because he relates to the people North Summit is trying to reach.
“My heart is where rejects are,” said Cavell, who has played drums at North Summit gatherings. “I know what it’s like being rejected, dealing with mental issues, having addiction, having nobody to turn to except Jesus. I see North Summit as a place where Jesus tells people that everybody else hates ‘I don’t hate you, I love you, and you’re welcome at my table.’”
A place to live out your purpose
Meyers is passionate about making North Summit a place where people live out their purpose. For example, he wants musicians to be able to use the church as a concert venue, and if someone loves working on cars, they could start an oil-change ministry.
Church shouldn’t be a place where you have to check your interests at the door and fit a mold that others have created, says Meyers. It’s a place where you bring your God-given gifts—whatever they are—and use them to build the kingdom.
“And you know what? If you fail, the church is the best place to fail,” said Meyers. “We need to be a church that’s giving Millennials a place to fail.”
Life is a lot like climbing a mountain, he explained. There are avalanches and there’s rough terrain, but “if we want to be walking with God for the rest of eternity, we need to climb with God in life.” The name “North Summit” draws on this idea.
Meyers has been active in making connections within the community and getting the word out about North Summit. For example, he’s gotten to know the owner of a skateboard shop down the street from the church—and he’s been working with Blaine Young Life, a group that’s focused on reaching troubled youth within the city. His goal is to make 1,000 contacts by the time the church launches public worship sometime this year.
Ultimately, Meyers wants to walk alongside people as they climb that mountain and “to grow as a community of these weird people.”
“You can view church as movies or the gym,” he says. “You can come to watch God move or you can be part of God moving. We want to be a place where people can work out their faith and become stronger in Christ.”
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church