Before he even moved into the area, Darryl Answer joined the Ivanhoe neighborhood association in Kansas City, Missouri. He wanted to get to know the community where he and his wife, Stephanie, were planning to start a church.
“One of the great things about Darryl is his incarnational approach to ministry,” says Midwest Conference superintendent Tammy Swanson-Draheim. “He and Stephanie understand that not only are they ministering to their neighbors, but through discipleship and relationship they are also ministering alongside them.”
Approximately 40 percent of Ivanhoe is abandoned lots and properties, and the average household income is $24,000 a year, says Darryl. “We know we can’t follow a model of ministry where a church starts with big money and big numbers. I knew I’d need to continue working another job in addition to pastoring.”
Once they were able to move into the community, Darryl found a job working with foster children who were aging out of the system. He and Stephanie became foster parents. “After having several kids in our home, we started focusing on families in the neighborhood who needed help. Maybe if they had the support they needed, their children wouldn’t end up in the system at all.”
The Answers worked to get to know the churches and pastors already serving the community. “We worshiped locally and learned from other pastors how to be bivocational, knowing that would be a reality for us.”
Eventually they began nurturing the new church into existence. A home Bible study group that started with six to ten people has outgrown their home. “Now, five years later, we meet in a school with about fifty adults and kids. We are starting to build in some structure and train leaders,” says Darryl.
During the summer Stephanie leads a women’s Bible study through the neighborhood council in conjunction with summer programs. Darryl leads a men’s group. On Tuesday evenings leaders gather for discipleship and planning. “This group has become one of our top priorities,” Darryl says.
“Two years ago we asked a friend in our neighborhood who was also a believer if she would join us for the Bible study at our house,” says Darryl. When she arrived, Darryl asked her what she thought about starting a church. “Are we allowed to do that?” she asked. The answer, of course, was yes.
One unique aspect of New Community is its financial support structure. The church benefits from a partnership between World Impact and the ECC. “We have a memo of understanding with World Impact to partner on church plants. This partnership contributes not only some funding but also other coaching and support,” says Swanson-Draheim. The combined efforts of World Impact, the ECC, support from local churches, plus Darryl’s bivocational work have allowed New Community to begin to take shape. Slowly, and always with the neighborhood in mind as well as God’s call to build the church, the Answers continue to share the gospel with the community of Ivanhoe.
Kansas City, Missouri
Weekly Attendance: 40