18 Inch Journey Housing Campaign from A Place for the Heart on Vimeo.

More than musicians or worship leaders, Jonathan and Melissa Helser are lovers of God and believers in the gift of Family. Jonathan and Melissa live in the woods of Sophia, NC on the edge of the property of A Place for the Heart. They lead the 18 Inch Journey, their school for the heart and Cageless Birds, a collective of artists. The Helsers have said yes to the gospel and to spreading the love of Jesus to the world. They long to teach this generation how to have relationship with God and each other.

The greatest journey a man will ever make is the 18 inches from his head to his heart. This 60 day school is a journey beyond what we know about God in our head to truly knowing God in our hearts. We have broken the school down into three core pillars.


Worship is the DNA of the 18 Inch Journey. Everything we do, from creative rhythms, to tending the garden, to washing the dishes, is rooted in worship. We believe worship is giving back to God what He first gave to us and this is how we approach every component of the 18 Inch Journey. Worship will overflow into everything we do when we have eyes to see what the Father has given us. We begin to lavish God by joyfully taking care of the land or singing the songs that He tucked inside of us. This is how worship moves from an experience to a lifestyle and it is our desire that our worship would carry into the normal, everyday moments of our lives.

God first reveals Himself as Creator and then makes us in His image. Creativity is an expression of who we are and we use creative rhythms to open up the process going on in our heart. Many of us learn somewhere in our life that we can’t sing or that we can’t draw. Creativity in the 18 Inch Journey is an exercise in identity where we pick up a brush to paint and remember that we are a son or a daughter. The creative process is messy and vulnerable, but it is also an invitation into bravery and growth. The 18 Inch Journey is a safe space to step out in new creative rhythms or to fall back in love with more familiar ones. We are free to explore creativity without fear of our failures defining us when our identities are rooted in the Father who passionately loves us.

The Trinity is a community of the Spirit, Son and Father that lives inside of our chest. We live in community because the Lord lives in people. During the 18 Inch Journey, we experience God while sitting around a dinner table as much as we do in worship or a teaching session. While we certainly have amazing teaching sessions and nights of worship, we believe something is missing if we don’t do life with the person beside us and get to know the Jesus inside of them. Living in community is difficult and uncomfortable at times, but it is worth it. Ken says, “Conflict is the price we pay for intimacy.” We value fighting for the people around us and allowing them to do the same for us.

We love discipleship. After years of one week Creative Worship Camps, we developed the 18 Inch Journey to have more time with the students. Then, after a few years of 18 Inch Journeys, we found ourselves still needing more time with the students. This led to the development of Phase 2 of the 18 Inch Journey, a second year school available to Phase 1 alumni.

Phase One

Phase Two

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