I Planted A Church When I Was 3
Hello, everyone. My name is Caris Lantz, and I live in Canton, Ohio. I will be a freshman at Glenoak High School next year. I run cross country and the mile and 800m in track. I was elected to be a Council President at the Ohio Model United Nations Conference in March of 2020. AND I planted a church when I was 3 years old.
When I was about 3, my parents planted a church in downtown Canton, OH called LoveCanton. So I essentially grew up living and loving the city of Canton. I have so many great memories from when we where at LoveCanton, and I am still connected to many of the people whom we met when we were planting the church. One of my favorite memories was when we had to clean the entire church building. It was an old late 19th century Lutheran church that hadn’t been used in decades. So all of the families who were a part of the church came in about a week after we signed off on the lease for the space, and we scrubbed, and swept, and cleaned every single wall, classroom, pew, and window. Basically, any surface in the church that you could think of. But it was really the time that all of the core families in the church bonded and got to know each other. And like I said before, we are pretty much all still friends and hang out together 13 years later. Which I think is really amazing!
Church planting has really impacted my life in major ways. One of them being the fact that I can actually appreciate the city of Canton. If you have visited downtown Canton you will know that it is not the most astonishing city in the world. There are a lot of buildings that haven’t been taken care of. There are a lot of impoverished people. Just overall a lot of need in the city. But I grew up at LoveCanton. And the great part of the church was that the whole point of having it was to love the city of Canton by reaching out to the community and really getting our hands dirty in trying to aid the people in need in the city. So even from a really young age I really knew how amazing the people in the city were, and what potential it could have. Now that my dad is the vision leader and preaching pastor at Rivertree Church in Jackson, OH and we are a part of a more developed part of Canton, I look at the downtown with a different perspective than what some of my friends do. A lot of them have never even been downtown, because they assume it’s some dangerous place. And I know that that is the complete opposite of what it actually is, thanks to my experience of planting a church and growing up in a part of Canton that I will always love.
When I got the e-mail to write this piece it really made me happy to know that Stadia values the kids of church planters and their experiences. Because back when I was a church planter’s kid, I really feel like I didn’t have any other kids who were like me, so when I would tell other kids at school or where ever they would always treat me differently because I was a pastor’s kid. And this still happens a lot today. I feel it’s important for other church planters’ kids today to know that they are not alone and there are thousands of other kids just like them!
When we were planting LoveCanton, I was only about 3 or 4, but everyone treated me as an equal to them. By the time I was 6 or 7 I was making coffee, helping greet people on Sunday mornings, and running errands for the church. And it really helped grow my faith because I got to get my hands dirty in the work that God was doing in the city of Canton. And now that I’m older I can look back at downtown not as a scary place, but as a place where I practically grew up! Planting a church as a young kid really helped me to learn to love Canton!
Currently, I am still on a walk of faith with God that I started in that first service in the old Lutheran church on Cherry St. in Canton. But now I am serving in the 3 and 4-year-olds classroom at Rivertree Jackson and will be on the work crew for some of our student ministry camps. But if we hadn’t have planted a church I would be nowhere close to the place I am in faith that I am in today!