Advancing the Kingdom: Manna U Student Plants Church in Central Missouri

Staci Tomlinson is a First-Year Graduate student in the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies program at Manna U, but much of her time is otherwise allocated to family, working at a local radio station, and entering the next stage of planting a church with her husband, Learon. Last February, after moving from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Staci and Learon began hosting viewings of recorded services from Manna Church in their living room in Waynesville. We asked Staci what God has been doing through them since that initial meeting in her living room:

Oh my gosh… there is… it is crazy. So we started meeting at the beginning of February 2019, and slowly it [spread by] word of mouth. We never officially launched. We didn’t do everything the [church planting] model told us to. Everything was word of mouth. We have gotten some crazy looks from people when we told them we met for church in our home. [Then] …people who were coming started bringing people in. Back in August, one girl got saved, and then we ended up having four baptisms in one week.

Now, nearly one year later, Manna Church Ft. Leonard Wood will be holding official Sunday services for the first time in a local gym. The church has grown from three or four people sitting in the Tomlinson’s living room to 25-30 adults and their families. Now that they’re moving into a facility (at least for services), they plan to expand their existing community outreaches and small groups, serving Waynesville and Ft. Leonard Wood both spiritually and practically. When asked what advice she would give to someone who thinks God might be calling them to plant a church, Staci got excited:

Do it. Don’t hesitate. Have that conversation, take the next step. We became members of our church in September/October, but then left to plant a church in April. See what it looks like.

It’s hard, it’s weird. [But] Don’t let you own fears get in the way, because if God’s calling you, He will equip you. Follow your heart, listen. When you’re in the Word, you’ll know when God is speaking to you. Devotion is going to lead you. God can use anything to let you know, but when you’re in the Word, you’ll know when it’s God.

Manna Church is a close-partner and supporter of Manna University, one among several local churches across the United States that is sending its emerging leaders to us for further training. If your church is interested in partnering with Manna U, please contact us at