SPRING HILL, Kan. – Jay Sloan had a calling so clear that it bothered him to do something about it.
Sloan spent over a year getting into homes as the owner/operator of Believe Pest Control. At a client dinner last week, he formally announced the official launch of Believe Church this Easter. It wasn’t a surprise since Sloan and his wife of 28 years, Ronda, were active in the community with Believe Church’s launch team.
However, relationships established over a troublesome wasp nest or to protect against termites will undoubtedly go to a deeper level. He has learned a few things in over 15 years in pest control through lessons that are very beneficial to someone in a pastoral role.
“The need is universal,” he said. “Everyone has had problems with a pest at one time or another.
“It is also an intimate problem. People invite you to their home to show something they usually don’t want others to know about. They let you into their world.”
Years ago as a 34-year-old pastor in California, Sloan needed another income stream to provide for his wife and four children. This led to part-time work at some pest control companies.
Six years later he started his own. Sloan’s father took out a second home mortgage to help get it off the ground. A year later, Sloan paid him back.
From there things got busy. Seven years without a vacation while serving as a pastor, worship leader and running a full-time pest control business led to burnout and Sloan retired from ministry in 2017.
He focused on recovery and work. While the pandemic closed many businesses in 2020, it provided a boon for Sloan. Plagues cannot run rampant and infestations must be dealt with, so companies like his have received the crucial “essential” label from the government.
“People were working from home and they were noticing more ants and spiders,” he said. “Our business has doubled.”
Eventually, he switched back to volunteering for the ministry. In 2021, the opportunity to move to the Kansas City area and near family opened up, so he sold his business.
They launched Believe Pest Control in Spring Hill, the town’s first locally owned pest control company, and spent a year building intruders as well as financial security for his family. The family also attended New City Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Shawnee.
Soon discussions were underway about New City starting a church in Spring Hill, south of Shawnee, with Sloan as the assistant pastor.
New City Church and Believe Church are both Send Network churches with the North American Mission Board. New City is also the sending church for Believe Church.
In recent months, Believe Church has placed itself in the community through outreaches such as a block party and fall carnival. The Sloans’ work through their ministry as well as their company is notable.
“Jay and Ronda are a model for future planters on how to sustainably plant a church in an underserved community,” said Matt Maestas, Send Network Church Planting Catalyst for Kansas City. “By first engaging their city by starting a business, they added value and addressed a real need before they ever thought about holding a worship service.
“My hope is that increasing numbers of planters will see what Jay and Ronda are doing and consider it a preferred way of planting in the future.”
The couple answers calls together, so customers get to know them both. They also experienced working together, such as in stubborn wasp nests, spiders, ants, mice and SWAT teams.
Yes, it happened.
While on a call once, Sloan sprayed inside a house. Suddenly, a SWAT team burst through the door – weapons drawn – looking for a suspect at the residence. Sloan and his wife were detained before the suspect was found hiding in the attic.
“It was a rental property and one of the family members was a convicted felon,” Sloan said. “It must have been a big deal because about 40 cops came in. They put me on the ground, took my wife out of the car. We were in 30 degree weather for about 40 minutes.”
On another occasion, an Indian family would not harm or remove rats in their home because of their religious beliefs. However, it eventually reached a point where the infestation forced them to call Sloan.
“They asked that I should get rid of them; do whatever I had to do,” he said.
New City Church provided financial support to Believe Church, including in areas such as assessment and training. Through his company, Sloan focuses on pest control that requires constant visits — “No snakes or wildlife,” he said — and therefore consistent residual income.
It’s a model he’d like to see other church planters copy.
“I would like to train ‘pest pastors’ who can offset their costs while building relationships with others,” he said. “Like anything, you have to do it the right way. Iron out the creases as you go and don’t cut corners.”
A core team of about 25 adults and children meet Sunday evenings in the Sloan garage for Bible study. It seems that those who first met Sloan as an exterminator are ready to join them.
“We had a big client dinner last week, with about 80 people, and announced to them about the church,” Sloan said. “Our launch team served the food.
“About seven families came to me afterwards to talk about the church. They said, ‘Yes, we want to be a part of it.’
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)