KANSAS CITY – When the cornerstone of Eastminster Presbyterian Church was laid in 1905, God had a plan for the site in northeast Kansas City. More than 100 years later, church planter Luis Mendoza thinks that plan involves new Baptist churches for every ethnic group in a growing, diverse neighborhood.
Local churches partnered with Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) to purchase the property Aug. 15. The idea is to use the building not as the home of a single congregation, but as a headquarters to incubate and send out new church plants once they are able stand on their own. For now, Living Faith – an Anglo church – and Palabra Vida (“Living Word”) – a Hispanic congregation Mendoza pastors, are going to meet at the location.
“Since there are so many different people groups in the area, we’d like to start reaching out to each of those people groups,” Mendoza said. “The concept is really new, but we think through this Multi-Ethnic Church Planting Center we can give each people group an opportunity to worship in their own ‘heart language.’ You can know and speak several languages, but you’re always going to have that heart language.”
Ken McCune, state Cooperative Program missionary/multicultural strategist, said the process starts with individual belivers and works out from there.
“What we’re hoping to see is people from each people group that will come to Christ, be discipled, raised up to be the leaders, then be able to go out start more churches,” he said. “They will be able to use this facility as a training place, ministry place and meeting place.”
Rodney Hammer, director of missions for Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, said he thinks the Church Planting Center can “incubate” up to four congregations at a time.
“Church planting centers are a new part of our strategy,” he said. “We’re still learning, but we have three church planting centers already, and this is the first one that is intentionally multi-ethnic.”
The location, on Benton Blvd. just north of Independence Ave., is strategic. In the neighborhood, there are pockets of around 60 immigrant and people groups. There are 20,000 Hispanics alone in the ZIP Code. The new Church Planting Center is across the street from a bustling bus stop and a park that attracted hundreds when Palabra Vida hosted an event last month with zero publicity or promotion.
“If you hang out at this bus stop, you’d see Anglos, African-Americans, Somalis, Sudanese, Iranians, Vietnamese and Chinese,” Hammer said.
“Location-wise, it’s perfect,” Mendoza said.
The historic church building had fallen into disrepair and the Presbyterian congregation was unable to care for the facility. Though the inside and some exterior elements need some renovation and repair, the structure is sound. Still, Mendoza said the Multi-Ethnic Church Planting Center is looking for churches and associations to help them with repairs both outside and inside of the building. For more information, contact Rick Hedger, state Cooperative Program missionary/partnership missions at 1-800-736-6227, ext. 620 or email@example.com.