Plant Feature: WFC, Leavenworth

“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” – 1 Corinthians 3:5-6

This lesson, which Paul sought to teach the Corinthian church, is a difficult one to embrace: because of—or sometimes in spite of—our best efforts, God is the one building and growing his church. Such a truth is not an easy pill to swallow for the church planter who wishes to create and manage growth according to his own expectations.

Send KC church planter Kasey Robinson and his wife, Cassie, confronted that reality during a long-term missions effort in South Africa. The two of them, children in tow, set off in the Autumn of 2012 to plant a church in Port Elizabeth. The process was fraught with difficulties. Kasey and Cassie had just welcomed their second child, and the prospect of relocating their growing family to a new continent seemed daunting. On top of the strenuous transition, Kasey says that the minutiae of making a home in a new culture exhausted him and his family.

“Even something as simple as opening a bank account proved to be a challenge,” he says, recalling the first weeks of their time spent in PE. In the midst of those personal obstacles, Kasey was confronted with the difficulty of planting a healthy church and managing sustainable growth.

The gift of hindsight allows Kasey to see that God was not only building his church in Port Elizabeth; he was also preparing Kasey for something new. After three years of dedicated service and prayer in South Africa, Kasey and his family returned to the U.S. in June of 2015, leaving behind a healthy church in the hands of a capable pastor.

Little did Kasey know a new challenge awaited him. Westside Family, the sending-church which made his efforts in South Africa possible, became aware that a sizable portion of its membership commuted from the Leavenworth-Lansing area—a thirty minute drive in light traffic. It became clear to Kasey and other leaders within WFC that a Leavenworth church plant would help serve those members and the Leavenworth community at large.

On January 3, 2016, Kasey hosted his first Westside Family Church, Leavenworth leader’s meeting meeting at its new Leavenworth facility—a gathering which saw 225 attendees as opposed to the launch team’s original 120. If those numbers surprised him, they were nothing when compared to the nearly 450 people who showed up for WFC, Leavenworth’s first preview service a week later.

Kasey and his leadership team faced a tough decision. Their first-ever preview service drew such a significant attendance that they had to consider going week-to-week ahead of schedule.

They did, and by the time January 31—the date of their originally-scheduled second preview service—swelling numbers forced Kasey’s team to begin a second service. By September of 2016, eight months following its launch, WFC Leavenworth added a third service after seeing attendance peak around 900 at Easter.

According to Kasey, his and Cassie’s time in South Africa served as a necessary prerequisite for what God was planning to do in Leavenworth.

“In Port Elizabeth,” he says, “God taught us that the fruit belongs to him; he simply calls us to be faithful to his direction.” He becomes visibly excited while relating the magnitude of God’s work in the Leavenworth community through WFC. “We’ve seen the lost saved,” he continues. “We’ve seen broken marriages healed. We’ve seen followers become leaders.”

And in the midst of all the excitement, WFC Leavenworth’s mission statement remains at the forefront: “Loving Jesus, Becoming Like Jesus, Sharing Jesus.”

Learn more about Kasey and other Westside, Leavenworth leaders here.

Learn more about Westside, Leavenworth here.

 

Plant Feature: Neighborhood Church

During a long-term missions effort in Budapest, Hungary, a simple thought occurred to Send KC planter Dave Partin: What might God do through a church that went above and beyond to love its neighborhood? For Dave and his wife, Rivers, that thought began to cultivate a desire to plant a church that would do just that: love its neighborhood well.

Fast forward only a few short years and Dave and Rivers would find themselves returning to Overland Park, Kansas—a suburban area just outside of Kansas City the two of them had already grown to love. Dave and Rivers began to employ a simple strategy in their immediate neighborhood, inviting their neighbors to join them in their home on Sunday evenings for dinner, prayer, and conversation about life. These Sunday evening dinners began to grow, and soon Dave added a second point of contact with the community: open-invitation fireside chats on Thursday evenings, where neighbors were invited to come and talk about life.

Dave describes the process as an “on-ramp” to church life. He recognizes it is no small journey to make. The combination of Sunday evening dinners, Thursday fireside chats, and various other means of building neighborhood friendships provided people with little-to-no church background opportunity to familiarize themselves with gospel conversations in a natural environment.

Six months of Sunday evening dinners and Thursday night fireside chats eventually led to a Neighborhood Church launch service last month which saw 105 attendees. On top of Sunday service, members are also encouraged to join themselves with a “Neighborhood Group”; these groups meet in members’ homes, providing more intimate, personal settings for conversation about life and the gospel.

For Dave, Rivers, and other leaders at Neighborhood Church, love for one’s neighbor is not secondary but essential; Neighborhood Church has already begun to address the needs of its community by volunteering at its local elementary school, serving on the local PTA, and mentoring students. But the needs of the community transcend the physical; when asked about his dream for Neighborhood Church, Dave Partin has a ready answer: “The neighborhood will know it has a community of believers who will care for it because that community of believers follows a glorious God.”

In other words, Neighborhood Church strives to serve its community in Overland Park, KS in order to accomplish an even greater goal: to point that community toward Jesus.

Learn more about Dave and Rivers’s journey here.

Learn more about Neighborhood Church here.