At first glance, Kansas City appears classically Midwest—complete with baseball (the Kansas City Royals), mom (home of Hallmark Cards) and barbecued ribs. Early 20th century writers regularly tagged it “The Most American City” because of its relatively high percentage of native-born citizens. No big city is closer to the geographic center of the continental United States. And it serves as a gateway to the “breadbasket” of the country’s Great Plains.
But take a closer look, and you’ll find something more than just a place for good barbecue. Matt Marrs, a native of Kansas City and its NAMB Send City missionary, says despite the city’s rural heartland image, it has a growing urban core that looks like many other big North American cities—including both the good and the bad.
Foreign-born residents make up close to 6 percent of the population*. A recent Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kansas) ethnic festival showcased local residents from more than 60 nations.
Kansas City has quietly become one of the most influential business locations in the Midwest with Hallmark, H & R Block, Russell Stover Candy and Garmin all calling the metro area home.
Yet it also has many of the problems often associated with urban America—like crime. According to CNN Money, the city’s murder rate ranks ninth among big cities and tenth in the crime index. According to the Kansas City Star, the city has become a hub for sex trafficking.
It’s a city that needs Jesus. Only 20.1 percent of metro Kansas City residents claim to be evangelical, less than half the percentage in some southern states. Southern Baptists have been on the Missouri side of Kansas City since the city’s founding shortly before the Civil War. But today the metro area has only one SBC church for every 7,432 residents (compared to one SBC church for every 2,758 people throughout the South).
To better penetrate the city’s growing lostness, Southern Baptists from three metro associations have come together to catalyze a church planting movement in the city through Send North America: Kansas City.
Starting as many new churches in the city as needed will require more Southern Baptist churches to step up and join as partners. Because of the unique nature of ministry in the metro area, Kansas City offers Southern Baptists a variety of diverse ministry options—from involvement in pioneer church planting on the Kansas side, to urban ministry in the city core to revitalizing dying churches.
To get you and your church involved in Send North America: Kansas City, visit namb.net and click “Send Me.”
*Taken from the Combined Statistical Area, which is not the same as the Send North America: Kansas City focus area.