By Kassidy Hall | Echo
When Bill Heth, professor of biblical studies, received a call from his son James in California, Bill was amazed to hear James announce he was moving back home to Indiana. That was in 2009.
The reason for the move? To plant a church. However, that wouldn't happen for a couple years.
The body of people that would one day become Kingdom Life found its roots at Taylor University. Two students, who were both enrolled in Bill's Greek class, were inspired to tell friends of what they learned after they attended a prophetic conference in Tennessee.
"The students knew I was learning about how to hear God's voice and I was just at the beginning stages," Bill said. "They came back absolutely excited about what they had learned, so much so that one young lady called 40 of her friends together and shared her testimony of what she learned at the conference."
What was supposed to be a one night event turned into a weekly meeting of believers. In two years, the group grew from an average attendance of about 20 to 140. When James moved to Indiana from California, a home group was started in Bill's home. The students who met on a weekly basis, from both Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan, were invited by Bill to join the new home group.
As James helped lead the home group, he began attending Exit 59 Church in Gas City. In addition to regularly attending services, he also participated in the church's weekly "teaching pool" with leaders of the congregation. Through that relationship, Darren Campbell, a pastor at Exit 59, asked James to be one of his teaching pastors on Sunday mornings. James, however, declined the offer because he had something different in mind.
"James wanted to disciple young people and connect them with the Holy Spirit in a very deliberate way," Bill said. "After a couple of months, Campbell told James that he could have Exit 59 Church in the evening, giving him total access to the building."
Upon the partnership with their host building established in October 2011, rent was paid to Exit 59. The home group moved into the new location and named themselves Kingdom Life. They began to regularly meet as a church body on Sunday evenings.
James was a leader at the church for over four years before he moved back to California with his wife Chloe. Bill continues to hold a leadership position at Kingdom Life as an elder. Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, associate professor of political science and international relations at Taylor, is a key leader at the church as well. Two Taylor couples impacted by James and Kingdom Life got married after graduation, found jobs in Grant County and serve in leadership roles at the church along with others from Indiana Wesleyan.
"We start service around six," Bill said. "We begin with testimonies: hearing what God is doing in people's lives. And then we do around 30 minutes of worship. Worship is a core value of ours. Then there is the message, which is also around a half hour. After that, we have something called a 'soft end.' We say a 'soft end' because we don't want to make the ministry teams that take place after the sermon feel as if they come after the whole service. They are part of the service."
Three to five teams of three people regularly minister to the church body after the message, according to Bill. The teams are required to go through ministry training in what they call Original Design prayer, something the leaders learned and adopted from another ministry called Catalyst. Bill defined Original Design as "personal prophetic ministry where we ask the Lord to give us His thoughts about what He loves about that person."
These small ministry teams are also available for any kind of prayer, including requests for emotional and physical healing. Bill has a folder on his computer containing stories and testimonies of healings and fulfilled prayer requests that have come as a result of ministry taken place at Kingdom Life.
Over the course of many years, Bill has studied the Bible and many scholarly texts on the topic of prophecy. On one of his sabbaticals, he examined the function of miracles in the Gospels. He cites John 14:12, where Jesus says to his disciples, "I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father," (NET).
As an elder at Kingdom Life, Bill has the opportunity to give a message on some Sunday evenings and serve on one of the ministry teams. The church has a large population of Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan students, as well as several faculty from both universities.
"One of the most exciting things is to see students becoming equipped to minister God's grace to others and then just living that out on their dorm floors," Bill said. "That's what I get excited about, because faculty can only do so much. It's so cool when students are able to minster to other students and have the maturity to do that."