Prius-driving country bumpkin proclaims Christ in rural river town

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

Christmas memories stir Adam Fish when he and his wife Tiffany go to the Bible study alongside other disciples from Harvest Bible Church, a new Hannibal, Missouri, church.

That stirring has happened every week since Feb. 6, when Harvest had their launch service, even though months have passed since songs of our savior’s birth or presents were seen under the tree.

“When I go to the Bible studies on Monday nights, it reminds me of a Christmas service,” he said. “You really enjoy being there and enjoy the people that you’re around.”

Both the Fishes, who work in law enforcement, started attending the church after pastor Nathan Meyers’ sister invited them to a Bible study. Since then, they’ve found disciples at the new church have a refreshing character. 

Related: Join us! The power of an invitation

“There’s a huge amount of humility in Nathan and the members, which really makes it something special,” Adam added.

Tiffany said Harvest Bible Church’s emphasis on practically serving others and sharing God’s word to make disciples confirms that the new Converge church is right for them. 

“There was a lack of churches that had a mission of building disciples and helping people and doing all the things that we love about Harvest,” she said. “I definitely think the Hannibal area needs it.”

‘Country bumpkin’ with a Prius and a passion

Nathan Meyers, who grew up 30 minutes west of Hannibal, is the new Converge church’s pastor. After serving churches in North Carolina and Virginia for several years, he and his wife, Brianna, moved back to northeast Missouri.

Meyers said he knew the country culture of his childhood region was a fit for them.

“I’m a country bumpkin kid,” he said, though he now owns a Toyota Prius in a zip code known more for trucks and tractors. “It didn’t make sense for me to go to Chicago or St. Louis.”

Their passion for this place increased after two of his childhood friends died in separate hunting accidents in 2018 and 2019, leaving behind their wives and children.

“We started praying about doing ministry here and coming home and loving people that were here,” after the accidents, he said.

They moved back to Missouri, and Meyers became a church-planting resident at Grace River Church in St. Peters, Missouri, for a year. That Converge congregation strategically utilizes residencies to empower approved church planters.

Related: Converge residencies help more church planters prepare for Christ’s mission.

“I knew I could probably maximize my effectiveness for the kingdom in coming to a small town like Hannibal,” he said.

The hub of Hannibal needs the gospel more than ever

Hannibal is a shopping, entertainment and work hub among the several towns nearby, each having a few thousand people. Hannibal has 20,000 and a hospital that’s likely the biggest employer in the county. The town’s economy includes three or four factories, such as the General Mills food company and a small college.

As a result, Harvest’s team can reach out to people of different colors, cultures and classes — including those far from God — in all the area towns.

Related: The Office of Biblical Diversity has resources for your cultural context.

“That was the most exciting part — to serve these families here,” he said.

That care includes loving de-churched or unchurched families, including people he’s known his entire life. Some of those people had been hurt by churches, so they don’t currently attend worship services or church activities.

Harvest also assists hundreds of kids needing assistance by giving to Coyote Hill, a regional agency that offers foster care and adoption opportunities.

“So many of us are hurting, going through stuff, and we need the gospel more than ever,” he said. “Harvest is a tool that can be used for gospel impact.”

Related: The church’s power is why Converge united to deploy 312 church planters.

A church for Hannibal prioritizes the shortlist

To Meyers, Hannibal could function as a sort of Jerusalem, to borrow the language of Acts 1:8. The discipleship movement that generated witnesses from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth still works from Hannibal to Palmyra and Monroe City and beyond.

Therefore, the 33-year-old decided the new church needed to do three or four things well. That contrasts how other congregations utilize their staff: Meyers knows some ministries make people manage five or six ministry roles, often with little fruit.

So Harvest concentrates on tangible service to their neighbors, celebration of the Lord on Sunday, small groups and one-on-one discipleship.

“I’m really a believer that life change is going to happen in relational discipleship,” he explained. “It’s even more of a priority that I hang out with people than I preach at them.”

Related: Converge’s church planting assessment clarified the Meyers’ methods.

That’s why Harvest seeks a nearly-even balance in emphasizing the priority of Sunday morning activities with discipleship during the week. Those in-home or cross-town discipleship opportunities during the week include studying the Bible and volunteering in tangible ways for the community.

“I really value other leaders like these host families who lead Bible studies so people don’t just hear pastor Nathan,” Meyers noted.

The Fishes have appreciated volunteering so they can offer charitable acts of love and kindness toward neighbors. As soon as they joined the Meyers’ Bible study on Monday nights, the group invited them to volunteer with a ministry in Hannibal that supplies food to individuals and families in need.

“We really felt like we were serving other people,” Tiffany Fish said. “At the same time, we were trying to share the word of God.”

That’s a mix of gospel proclamation and demonstration the Fishes appreciate and Meyers wants all the church’s small groups to pursue. Such a small group enables people to love God and love their neighbors, and pursue making disciples.

“We’re here to minister to people in the Hannibal area, and they want relationships. Not only do they need a relationship with people like myself or my wife, but they need a relationship with God,” he said.

God’s work in Tiffany Fish is an example, Meyers added, because she and Brianna Meyers regularly have an intentional discipleship conversation. Out of that connection, Tiffany recently got baptized, the first person Nathan baptized.

“Small groups have been killing it because people want a sense of community, fellowship with others,” he said.

Related: The Grove in Kentucky is a Converge church emphasizing relationships.

A church for every direction of life

For Meyers, the church has three foundational pathways that lead to the abundant life of Christ that he came to give.

“I think the church ought to be experiencing upreach — us and God; outreach — us and the Hannibal area; and inreach — discipleship within our own community,” he said.

That form of church partially helps Adam Fish feel like it’s Christmas every time he goes to Bible study. As people in law enforcement, he and Tiffany have learned not to trust appearances during initial encounters with people.

Related: A Converge church for first responders has started in the Twin Cities.

But their Bible study and experience at Harvest prove they’ve joined a group where they can be vulnerable and grow in the Lord.

“There’s definitely no facade of anyone there being perfect or a ‘perfect Christian,’” Tiffany Fish added. “We’re all there trying to be better. We’re very fortunate to have Harvest.”

Converge’s 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene