MARTIN CITY – Off the main strip, and down the road in Martin City, one finds Three Trails Community. But don’t call it a church—not a church. It’s a congregation. Three Trails, which currently meets in the Martin City Baptist building, purposely left off the word “church” to identify with the people they reach— namely, Martin City. “Three Trails Community. No church,” says lead pastor Blake Fortner. “Everyone wants to add church,” Fortner adds with a head-bobbing laugh.
Fortner has been in ministry since 2005 after graduating from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo., with a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies. After serving in supporting pastoral roles, he received his first lead pastorate when Three Trails launched. “We’re kind of a nontraditional launch. We had about 60 to 70 people,” Fortner said.
Three Trails puts a strong focus on welcoming all who come into the door. Equipping also holds great importance there. The community mission field of Martin City is why Fortner says is why equipping is needed. “Our church is kind of built on two things. We feel like we want to equip people Monday through Saturday. I think a lot of churches focus on the Sunday service,” Fortner said.
The call is to go to mission—and Three Trails is definitely on a mission. The congregation has encountered the town this previous year by working with the Chamber of Commerce, working with the school district on a bond vote and more. Youth minister Courtney Ball says, “I think it’s kind of an amazing thing, our focus serving the community in south Kansas City. I work in a school a few miles from the church. It’s a great thing to serve the community as a church without asking anything in return.”
To serve a community properly, it can be necessary to assimilate into the community and even relocate within its confines. According to Fortner, that is his position: ‘I don’t want to be the attractional regional church. I want to be the church – that is, we’re doing shoulder to shoulder (where) all of our leadership team either works in this area or moves to this area for that very reason,” he said.
The community is responding. The city has shown its support in vocal ways and ways that take endurance. The school district has been working to allow Three Trails to rent one of their buildings. This is something that was once not done due to church and state separation, and the city is now working to make a space for them. “Awesome!” That is how Fortner responds when asked how the community of Martin City is responding. He says at least one citizen of the town has told him that he loves the work Three Trails has done. “What we try to do is find the things our city finds important. We’ve done that with the chamber. We’ve done that with schools and the city.” Three Trails Community—demonstrating and sharing Christ to Martin City and those passing through.