RAYMORE – Whether you call it by its former name – First Baptist Church – or its new one, Fellowship Church, it’s a “God story.”
That’s how Alan Findley describes the congregation meeting in this fast-growing suburb of Kansas City.
Over the past 18 months or so, First Baptist, Raymore, found itself without a pastor and began looking and praying over the direction God would take the future of their church. They could search for a new pastor and continue with their status quo, but they sensed God leading in a different direction. They began instead searching for a church to merge with to better serve their community and ensure an ongoing gospel witness. Fellowship Church in Greenwood itself began as a replant of First Baptist Church, there in 2011. Eight years later, they saw the same Kingdom potential for synergy and cooperation presenting itself in Raymore.
“Those stories kind of merged together,” said Findley, whose title is executive pastor of campus ministries. “They started talking and pursued the adoption.”
This summer, those two congregations became one church with two campuses 15 minutes apart, united to fulfill the Great Commission.
“The people are amazing,” Findley said. “It’s been so good seeing the unity and the excitement. We were blown away by the response from the community. We had a really astonishing group of people who had never been to the church before and a large number who had been out of church for a long time who came just to see what was happening here.”
That excitement dovetails with tremendous potential. Raymore is the third-fastest growing city in the Kansas City metro area and is the fastest growing city in Cass County.
“It’s booming with young families,” Findley said. “Over 70 percent of the population do not go to church anywhere on Sunday, so there’s a huge number of families who aren’t reached and aren’t engaged anywhere. We’re excited to see a church that’s really for all generations worshiping side by side on Sunday.”
Even though the two campuses meet separately on any given Sunday, Findley said the two groups are intentionally working to be one body in Christ.
“The interior of the buildings looks eerily similar,” he said. “Architecturally, it is almost identical. As far as the aesthetics, we tried to make it look like it’s the same church no matter where your car is parked. Pastor Chris (Williams, at the Greenwood campus) and I are preaching the same text. Our sermons are individually developed, but we have the unity around the same texts each week. Our worship teams are singing the same songs.”
And their other ministries work hand in hand.
The two campuses have a joint senior adult dinner once a month, bouncing between the two locations. Their Awana ministries team up for activities, as do their student ministries.
“It really is awesome seeing that the church is bigger than just these four walls,” Findley said.
Findley asked that Missouri Baptists pray that the church to continue impacting families in both Raymore and Greenwood as one united body, even as they look to continue the multiplication process.
“Our goal is to continue replanting as we’ve received, so we’d like to see more of this happening in the surrounding area,” he said.