Jake Randall was born into a church family, but it wasn’t until he went to a basketball camp his junior year of high school that he gave his life to Christ. From there, he said, everything changed. It was the point where his faith became his own. That summer he started attending a new church when his youth pastor put a guitar in his hand and told him he would be leading worship. Jake grew up in a church where worship meant a piano and an organ and barely knew four chords for a guitar. “It was possibly the worst worship you’ve ever heard,” Jake said, “but God was really doing something in me. He was rising up a leader within me.” It was the first time he really had sung and played the guitar. “This is where Jesus began to use me. It is where I began to feel a part of the Kingdom,” he said. “Leading worship – it was a way that things felt right. I didn’t know how to sing, how to play, but He used that. God has always used me in a way to lead people through music.”
Jake met his wife, Megan, while working in a coffee shop in a small, Illinois town. They dated for a while and broke up for several months. She had moved to Kansas City to pursue her master’s degree. At that point in his life, Jake says he was at a very raw place, he had recently been burnt by his previous church and no longer had Megan in his life at this time. Through counseling and learning about redemption and what love was really about, God put Jake in a place of surrender. “There was so much healing that happened and there was so much beauty in that.” Jake said. He felt that God was telling him to once again pursue Megan and to do whatever it took to get her back. He resigned from the coffee shop, packed up his belongings, and moved to Kansas City with no job. He lived on a friend’s couch and picked up some traveling worship gigs and jobs around town to help pay the bills.
The first few months in Kansas City, Jake and Megan were church shopping. They were sick of the megachurch, sick of the production, because that was all they once knew. They decided to visit Graceway one Sunday, about five years ago, at the suggestion from a friend. They walked into Graceway and saw the escalators, flat screen TVs and coffee shops and they thought, “Oh no. Not again!”
After service ended that day, they were talking to some people around the church. Knowing that Jake had once owned a coffee shop, someone suggested he go meet Aaron Duckworth as he is a renowned barista and manages the Portico coffee shop at Graceway. Jake went over to introduce himself and realized he already knew Aaron from various coffee events in the past. Aaron invited Jake and Megan to attend a beer and food pairing party at their house one evening. They met several couples they connected well with. One of them invited them back to Graceway. Reluctant to come back to a large church, they decided to give it another try.
One of the first services they came back to was in the gym due to the auditorium being under construction. “Jeff Adams opened his mouth and God began to break me.” Jake said. “I watched him go verse by verse and saw the scriptures become alive.” Seeing the diversity of the church, hearing of the different languages, hearing of the mission work being done, they decided to give Graceway another chance.
They began to attend Graceway regularly, and after getting married, Jake and Megan moved into an apartment in the midtown neighborhood of Kansas City. God began to form friendships through a small group that developed from the neighbors in their building. At the time, they didn’t even know many of them attended the same church. Jake describes the small group that came together as organic. The group bonded quickly and became the people that they could turn to in times of sadness and in times of celebration. It was a group of friends that walked through all aspects of life together.
One day, Ryan Straits, a friend and member of their small group, invited him to try out for the worship team at Graceway. For about three months Jake stood in the back and just played the guitar. Eventually, he began to sing in the background and slowly started to become more of a front leader. Jake was hired on staff at Graceway in 2013 as Worship Leader. He has an incredible passion for worship and that passion became very evident on stage each week. “His desire for excellence drove us to be better.” Jeremy Schell, our Worship Director, stated.
About four years ago, Jake got the idea to open a doughnut shop. After noticing some other large cities such as Chicago and Portland had creative, gourmet doughnuts but nothing here in Kansas City; he began to dream of what this place could be. For Jake, however, it wasn’t about doughnuts. “I wanted to open a place of creativity, community, conversation.” He said. “Conversations change lives. I believe that with all my heart.” He wanted a place to facilitate those conversations, doughnuts were just the avenue to make it happen. It was about breaking down the barriers and having a comfortable environment where people could just be. About a month ago, Jake opened the Doughnut Lounge located in Westport. Here you can find some of your favorite classic doughnuts along with some crazy, gourmet flavors. There is even one with fried chicken!
Recently, we have discussed the four layoffs from our Graceway staff. Although unrelated, the Worship Department also restructured and Jake’s position of Worship Leader was eliminated. Although Jake’s leaving was not a part of the budgetary layoffs, it occurred around the same time and we failed to communicate this restructure and his leaving. Jake is focusing his time right now on his new business. Jake has done an exceptional job leading worship at Graceway. His passion for music and worship is contagious. We wish him and his family the best in this new endeavor, and we highly recommend you go down to the Doughnut Lounge and try the fried chicken ‘nodut’!