Editor’s Note: Sunday, March 21, is Church Planting Emphasis Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Despite the hardships of 2020 — and the inevitable continued challenges the pandemic brings — Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kan., is sending out their first church planter next month.
This sentiment has been shared by pastors throughout North America: “Last year was the hardest year in my pastoral experience.”
From cultural division to a tumultuous election season and the infamous coronavirus pandemic, last year was hard on everyone, including Pastor Derrick Lynch, lead pastor of Blue Valley Baptist Church.
“I’ve been in full-time, vocational ministry since 1989 and a full-time lead pastor since 1996, and it’s by far the most difficult season I’ve ever gone through. We’re in a very divided climate, and it’s been hard to get everyone to keep their eyes on the most important things,” said Lynch.
Though it was his most difficult year in ministry, Lynch led the congregation to rally around its first church planting team.
“This will be our first church plant in the over 42-year history of our church. It will launch the week after Easter,” explained Lynch. “We met North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary Nathan Chang through another church we knew. The pastor at that church believed we could be of help to him, so they put us in contact with one another. This happened around the time we were developing our mission and vision to be a multiplying church. We helped him develop relationships in our church and recruit for his plant, and we commissioned them in January. It’s going to be a suburban church plant in our area.”
Blue Valley Baptist Church will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2028, and their leadership began dreaming about what kind of church they wanted to be at that point in their history.
“We reached a crossroads where we realized we were either going to build a suburban church and tell everyone to come here, or we could begin branching out and have smaller, more community-based ministries through campuses and plant churches in areas we might not be able to reach,” said Lynch.
When they first introduced this plan to the church, there was genuine excitement, and then the pandemic struck and pushed pause on the operation. For about a year, their vision remained words on paper, but they eventually began raising money and preparing the team to plant.
They look forward to launching Chang and his church planting team in April as they start Image Fellowship to the southwest of downtown Kansas City.
“There’s no doubt COVID has presented challenges to planting Image Fellowship,” Chang said in written comments, “but we also remind ourselves that horrible disasters and persecutions have failed to stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the last two thousand years, so we remain diligent in obeying God’s call.”
For Blue Valley Baptist, the Lord has provided other opportunities to be part of God’s mission moving forward throughout North America and beyond.
“We’re also in the process of taking steps toward planting a Hispanic mission out of our campus in Olathe,” Lynch said. “We’re making arrangements to have a specific elder oversee that. Once that elder is identified, we’ll begin to vet potential church planters and start that this fall.”
A lot has been stripped from us in the last year, but perhaps that has caused the Church to evaluate what’s most important and join God in His mission in new ways.
This Sunday, March 21, is Church Planting Emphasis Sunday for the Southern Baptist Convention. One of NAMB’s primary ministry areas is to help churches and church planters take the step of planting churches everywhere for everyone through Send Network.
Published March 17, 2021