Plaza Heights makes mark as warm, praying church
By Allen Palmeri
BLUE SPRINGS – Bobby Collins, who in May will complete his 24th year as pastor of Plaza Heights Baptist Church , Blue Springs , has noticed one outstanding attribute in the church’s congregation over the years.
“I think it’s the warmth," he said. “We have a pretty strong, blended service, and it’s pretty up tempo, but I think people just about from any walk of life can find a comfort level."
The church’s attendance has grown from about 230 in 1980 to 550-600 today, with 480-500 in Sunday School. There are 1,700 resident members.
Collins typically asks first-time visitors how they found the church. He then asks them to tell him what they think of Plaza Heights .
“By and large, they feel comfortable," he said. “Folks are friendly.
“Encouragement or affirmation doesn’t cost us anything, but it really reaps eternal dividends. We say to people, ‘We don’t believe you’re here by accident. We believe you’re a divine incident. God had something in store for you to be with us Sunday’."
Plaza Heights was planted in 1967 by First Baptist Church , Blue Springs . The two churches have given Missouri Baptists a strong presence in a city that has grown from 20,000 residents in 1980 to 55,000 today.
Prayer has played a large part. The Plaza Heights prayer line is advertised on its sign out front and serves as a strong connecting point to the community. Citizens continue to call the hotline at (816) 229-8888. Church members go to the prayer room 12-14 hours a day, Collins said.
“It’s a blessing to know that people are there every day of every week praying for our staff, praying for those in the hospital, praying for those who have lost loved ones," he said. “It’s a major impact which I think is going to get even bigger, with the complexity and the cruelty that this world affords people. People need somebody to just pray with them, and they’re there."
Collins came to Plaza Heights from First Baptist Church , Tarkio, in the northwest corner of Missouri . In 2000, he was elected president of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Throughout his tenure at the church, he has marveled at the amount of encouragement he has received.
“They’ve been incredibly supportive," Collins said. “We’ve never had what I would call a really down business meeting. We’ve had disagreements, but I think that the church as a whole has learned to disagree without being disagreeable. They are an incredibly giving people, and they are very easy to lead. I think the pastors who served before me would have said the same thing. They really do love the Lord."
March 18, 2004