Episode 9: Gary Kendall Shares The Why

Host Gary Kendall of the B.L.E.S.S. Podcast is often asked why he left a large church Lead Pastor position to launch Love KC and work with Blesseveryhome.com. Listen for the “only God…” stories and the paradigm-shifting thinking related to disciples living on mission every day where they live, learn, work and play.


Donna Moore:  Welcome to the B.L.E.S.S. podcast where we join Jesus where He is already at work. We dream of the day when every home in America is adopted by one or more persons living the pray, care, and share lifestyle. Your Host is Gary Kendall, Catalyst for Love KC and the National Prayer Mobilizer for Blesseveryhome.com. Gary works with Founder Chris Cooper and the team at Blesseveryhome.com to equip you to live on mission where you live, learn, work, and play.

If you haven’t yet signed up to adopt your neighborhood you can do so at Blesseveryhome.com Now let’s turn our attention to this episode of the B.L.E.S.S. podcast.

Gary Kendall:  Hello and welcome to the B.L.E.S.S. podcast where we join Jesus where He is already at work where we live, learn, work, and play. This is normally the time where I introduce our guest. But today we’re going to flip the script. I have one of our volunteers at Love KC, Donna Moore, and a new user to Blesseveryhome.com who is going to interview me. I’ll introduce her and, she will share a little bit about her story. Then she’s going to ask me some questions about how we got started and why we do what we do.

So this is Donna Moore, she’s a volunteer at Love KC (lovekc.net) and somewhat new to Blesseveryhome, but not to the pray, care, and share lifestyle. In fact, Donna, you were doing pray, care, and share before you knew it was a thing.

Donna: Yep, that’s true! Gary, thank you for having me on today. There was a time in my life, you know, where I was completely just searching for more. I walked into the doors of Indian Creek Community Church and, I found what I was looking for; I found a community and of course found God. It was just amazing. It is amazing what God has done.

Prayer is one of those things that really gave me hope. So I wanted to be able to pray for others in the same way that I was prayed for when I entered those doors. I want to care like people cared for me—I wanted to give back what was given to me. The care was an abundance of blessing that is still to this day poured all over me by the people in my community–the people of my church. I want to pay that forward and give back what was given to me. And of course sharing, I get so excited to share my story about what God has done through me. So that is just the best part to me is sharing this hope–this love.

Wow! I just can’t even put that into words. But I’m excited to share my story more and more because of the great love that God has for me.

Gary:  Well you do it well and, I’m grateful for your volunteering at Love KC and now Blesseveryhome. I look forward to how God is going to use you.

Donna:  Thanks so much. Gary, the listeners are probably curious as to how you got involved in Love KC and Blesseveryhome.com. I think they’d like to know why you started this podcast.

Gary:  Thanks for asking. And I’ll kind of narrow the focus at the beginning to start at the beginning of the story, and then I’ll just hit the high points. It could be a long story, but we won’t make it long today.

In 2014, one morning, I woke up and, my first waking thought was I’m about to move, and you could miss it. This was such a powerful thought that it felt like electricity going through my body. I didn’t have to ask where that thought came from because I knew it didn’t come from me. There was nobody else up in my house. And so immediately I just kind of said to God, well, what do you want?

This doesn’t happen very often for me, in this way, but the thought came immediately into my mind, meet me at the prayer room every morning at 6:00 a.m. I was like, I already get up every morning early to pray and I’m usually up by that time. But to leave my house and go to the prayer room of the church–that was a big commitment.

And so I said to God, Well for how long? And that was the end of that conversation! I didn’t get an answer to that to that question, but with the lack of an answer, I thought it meant, until I tell you differently.

I started that day. I talked to my wife and started to go into the prayer room every day at 6:00 a.m. I don’t think I missed hardly any days unless I was out of town for a year and a half. What happened in the prayer room was different than what I expected. I thought that when I got there, I might get some kind of angelic message maybe like some of the Bible characters did. Maybe there would be music and light and, you know, God would reveal some great truth to me, and that didn’t happen.

But as I began to seek Him the very first thing that started to happen in my heart and it really happened the very first day was a new understanding of how much God loved me and the fact that I was first a son, a beloved son, not a worker for Him. This was an invitation into His presence and into a lifestyle with Him that was beyond anything I could earn or deserve or would have to work for. I wasn’t expecting that!

I found myself on my knees or on my face before God just really grateful for who He is and the depth of His love and His grace. I thought about all the things that He’s done for me. I thought I was going to get this some message about my future. But what God really did for nearly a year was just talk to me about my identity and the deep love He has for me and for every one of us.

This is foundational to everything else that happened after that. It was just really precious time with God. And then He did lead me in the scriptures, and he gave me a real conviction of what I would do in the future. It was out of that time that I felt led to get involved in something called Impact. Impact was a project inside of Kansas City, specifically Johnson County. And in that project, we were trying to go to all of the High Schools and tell the story of Jesus in some unique ways.

I think it was the will of God that somehow I ended up leading the pastoral part of the project. Mike Bickley, from Olathe Bible, co-led with me. Twenty-six churches got involved in it. We ended up with 52 different meetings in high schools over a month and a half period of time. There was maybe a year and a half of activity leading up to it but out of that over 10,000 people attended the outreaches and, over 1,300 indicated a decision for Jesus. So it was a powerful thing.

It took a lot of effort and a lot of time but what happened during that time in my heart was critical. I felt just on fire with God’s love for other people, and I wanted to share it everywhere I went. I was regularly running up against people who weren’t nearly as excited about it as I was. I asked myself, what’s up with this?

We were teaching people to share their faith. We were teaching people to disciple those who came to Christ. It was actually heartbreaking, to me, the kind of passivity that I ran into in so many places.

I loved it when I found others who really had, you know, this we can do this kind of attitude. But more often than not what I found was people who were really busy with their life. And this effort was something that was kind of out of the box for them. They didn’t feel confident to share their story. They weren’t used to inviting people and yet it wasn’t a high priority with them.

I think God used Impact in a powerful way because He helped me to understand two things that I’ll never forget. One is, the world doesn’t understand the church, and it doesn’t understand our language. By and large, it doesn’t understand why we do what we do and who we are. The world is looking for Jesus, but they don’t know it.

Everybody’s on a spiritual journey, but they don’t understand or realize that their spiritual journey is meant to lead them to God. Saint Augustine said years ago that there is a God-shaped hole in every one of us. So we are all in the story–we’re on this quest. Some people are going in circles. Some people are going backward but we are all on a spiritual journey. Most people don’t believe that it involves a church and they don’t know that it involves Jesus. So that was one thing.

The other thing was–that Christians, by and large, do care about the world around them but we’ve taught people in our churches that being a witness is inviting someone to church. And if that person says no, or doesn’t choose to come, often they don’t know what to do next.

I have this deep conviction that I’ve been a part of a church, and I’ve been a part of a culture that by and large really hasn’t equipped people to be able to tell their story or tell the story of Jesus. It’s become a real burden for me. I’m dedicating the next part of my life to change this.

I really think Impact was a catalyst to leading me to the place where Belinda and I felt like I would step away from Indian Creek, not because we felt like Indian Creek was failing, I think Indian Creek stepped up big time–maybe as much or more than anybody else in that whole effort. But what happened was I began to get a vision and a heart for our city, the city of Kansas City and the church, the big “C” Church of Kansas City. I began to realize it’s not just Indian Creek or Johnson County that needs to understand the depth of love that God has for everyone. We all need to be able to tell their story. This is an across the board truth in Kansas City. And I think this was an awakening inside of me that maybe God was going to lead me out from one church so that I could help and maybe inspire and equip churches all across the city of Kansas City.

Donna:  And so what do you mean by “the citywide Church of Kansas City?”

Gary:  Well I think that in God’s view there’s really one church. It’s filled with people from all different denominations and the various sizes. We are one in God’s eyes. I think He sees it as the body of Christ in Kansas City. If I think back to the churches of Revelation, like in the book of Revelation, He would say, this is a letter to the church in Ephesus, or this is a letter to the church in Smyrna. In those cities, I’m sure the gatherings met in different places. There probably were different beliefs. I’m sure they all had different gifts, but God saw them as one church.

I think that God sees the church in Kansas City as one church. I often call it the big “C” Church. Now we all have our own uniqueness as individual smaller congregations, and I think that’s part of the body of Christ because one church will be great maybe with their music and worship. That’s a contribution they’re making to the whole. Another might have a fantastic speaker. Some are great at discipleship. Others are supremely welcoming and grace giving. Together we make up the whole body of Christ. Individual churches are the eyes, the ears, and the nose, etc. And so I think that our differences are actually very valuable.

But I do dream about the day where if we didn’t have silos we really could work together. I dream about the kind of impact we could make in our city. There are some giants that we come up against regularly that as individual churches we won’t be able to make much of a difference unless you begin to combine our efforts or work across denominations and across even differences and philosophies or doctrines.

These giants are sex trafficking, the giant of fatherlessness, the broken foster care/adoption system that we have plus our need for racial reconciliation. These are giants that we have to fight together. There is also the inequity of our school systems from KCK to KCMO, Blue Valley, Olathe, and north of the river. There’s a wide difference in resources. We need to be able to work together as a church to be sure that that kids will have what they need when they’re growing up. We need to be sure that they have good teachers, etc.

Fortunately, the body of Christ in Kansas City has lately been able to rally together to make some great strides in many of those areas. One of the ones that break my heart right now is the number of suicides we’ve had especially in Johnson County. In Blue Valley and Olathe, it’s at an epidemic level. We are not going to be able to tackle that giant if we don’t work together. There are people in all various different churches, and if they begin to collaborate, not caring who got the credit or what church they’re looking for or who their leader is at the moment, I think we could make a huge difference. So when I talk about the citywide church that’s what I mean.

God began to put this burden in me in a way that we knew that our time at Indian Creek was coming to a close. We realized that we were supposed to do our best to finish well and to find another leader at Indian Creek and we did. We found someone that we love, Jake and Sarah Zaske. We were able to help be a part of that transition as they began to lead at Indian Creek. We felt like God would lead us into something new. But that’s where there’s kind of a little bit of a twist in this story. We knew we were called to serve the city, but we didn’t know exactly what we were supposed to do

One morning as I was praying, the first thought that came into my mind, and I think it came from God was, I’m going to lead you a step at a time. And I thought–well I won’t say the exact word that I said because it was a little irreverent at that moment. But I was thinking, I would much rather have a map.

I think the idea of not knowing when, how, where, or how long could be rough. Honestly, it threw me for a loop. I thought of all the trips I’ve been on where my kids would say, Hey Dad, when are we going to get there? I would hear that question over and over. I would really get tired of the question, but at least we usually knew where we were going. So now we’re going to go on this trip, and we don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what we’re going to do. And we don’t know how we’re going to pay for it. I guess really like it was like an electric surge that just took out the fuse box in my life.

As I look back on it now, which it’s I’m almost two years later, I can see how that God’s really been teaching us trust and faith and patience and dependence upon Him. He’s actually led us into some things that there’s no way we could have known at that time if He had tried to tell us. Saying yes put us in a posture of trust and dependence on God.

A funny side of it is whenever I would tell people this they would look at me, almost cross-eyed, like are you holding something back? Like is there some story you’re not telling? Like maybe things are not going well at Indian Creek, and you just don’t want to say so! People quizzed me a little bit like no one does that. We did. We really did, and we survived. God’s led us. And I do want to say that as irreverent as I was at the moment God has always been faithful. He has never let us down, and He means more to us now than He ever has. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I’m really grateful to God for His leading.

There were two things I was quite convinced of, and even in those earliest days, I would have known these two things. One is that the world is desperately in need of a Savior and Jesus is the answer. And the second is, that the world isn’t coming to the church. And so as a church we’ve got to find a way not only to go to church but also to BE the church. I was convicted of those two things, and I had this thought in my mind. My wife, Belinda, really resonated with this too.

We said, you know if we have a decade or more to give and I hope we do. I mean, I feel like we’re healthy and we’re excited about life. We aren’t looking to retire and settle down. We’re looking to have one of the best chapters of our life. But if God would give us another ten years we would really like to see every church be able to have passion for the lost and be able to be equipped to tell the story of Jesus and to tell their story. I was really confident that whatever was next—it involved those two things.

Donna:  So what is your message?

I think that the two Great Commandments give us a real starting point, kind of like a diving board; we can just spring off of. We’re probably all familiar with Matthew 22 where Jesus says, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength–this is the first and great commandment. And the second one is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. And He goes on to say if you do these things, then you’ll be blessed. It’s phenomenal to me that two commandments could sum up everything else. He said they sum up the law and the prophets. That’s astounding because there are Ten Commandments and He reduces it to two–and they sum up everything in the Old Testament! This is amazing. I mean it’s a big book! It’s like if you get these two rights, then you’ve covered it! That was astounding to me!

The first one doesn’t surprise any of us, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That reminded me of God’s call to me to meet Him in the prayer room. Like, be a person of prayer. Meet with God in the quiet space. You know, let God be the one thing in your life that if you had Him, you would have everything. And if you lost everything but had Him, it still would be enough. So that’s the loving God part. I think God was sweet and gentle and kind to really nourish that part during those days in the prayer room.

The second thing though, and I’m passionate about this, is that while most of us have a plan for the first commandment a lot of us don’t have a plan for the second commandment. We would say aspirationally, oh, I love everybody. I love my neighbor. We think about the Good Samaritan and say, oh, if I saw someone broken down by the road, and I had the time I would help them. But we don’t always do it. We think we would because we believe the best about ourselves but actually, we don’t have an accountable plan (for the second commandment).

If I talked to followers of Jesus and said, what’s your plan for loving God? They would quickly say, Oh, I read the Bible. I pray, and maybe I journal. Perhaps they’ve learned to fast or go to a small group. But if I say, what’s your plan for loving your neighbor? They would say, I guess whatever happens at the moment. Maybe I’ll step up but there’s not really a plan.

I’ve come to say, we at Love KC and through Blesseveryhome, we can help you with that. We can help you with a plan for that. I felt confident that God was going to use these three words pray, care, and share. I learned those words over 10 years ago. Ten Years ago Mission America had a big program where they were going through the U.S. saying to people, be a lighthouse in your neighborhood. That’s the Word they used, be a lighthouse and pray for your neighbors. They meant the five across the street, the five on each side of you, and the five behind you or something like that.

At that time I diligently did that. I wrote down the names of my neighbors. My wife and I prayed and by God’s grace four of my neighbors came to Jesus through conversations. So I’ve seen the value of just being a friend and being a neighbor. I knew that God could use that. And so I was confident that God wanted us to do something like this. This idea of neighboring was big on my heart.

I began to think about the truth that Jesus was the Word that became flesh. He came to Earth. Jesus identified with us. He became our neighbor in a sense. In fact, The Message version says that God put on flesh and moved into the neighborhood. It’s super exciting to me that Jesus was a neighbor for 30 years before He ever began His ministry for three years. It’s pretty convicting that for 30 years He just was going to be among the people. I’m sure they heard some amazing things from Him but He was just being a neighbor and the three years of his ministry changed the world,

I really got convicted about that (neighboring) so I was telling my wife, I said, you know I don’t know how God would want us to do this but I guess maybe one way we could do it is we could find out how many grade schools there are in the Kansas City area. We learned there are around 360-grade schools–that are public schools. We could say that around every grade school the people consider themselves a neighborhood. Like we live in the neighborhood of Countryside Elementary. And we’ve done a lot of volunteer work at Countryside, and many others serve there too. Our grandkids go to Countryside. It’s pretty easy to serve there.

We thought, okay; let’s find one or more disciple of Jesus who will adopt every one of the 360 neighborhoods. And what’s one way to reach all the neighborhoods of Kansas City. We thought about a 30-mile radius. If you put a dot on Sprint Center and you went north to the northland and you went south to Blue Valley and Stillwell then you went east to a little past Independence and Pleasant Valley on the on the east then as far as Bonner Springs on the west you get about a 30 mile radius around Kansas City. And so let’s think of that as our mission field. Let’s find someone or more than one in every neighborhood. And let’s teach people to live on mission for Jesus and live the pray, care, and share lifestyle.

So that was that was the first inkling that we had of what God might be leading us to do. And that’s a huge job!

Donna:  So how do you think we’ll accomplish this?

Gary:  Well, it is huge! There are 2.1 million people in Kansas City in approximately 21,000 neighborhoods. There are 814,000 homes, so yeah; it’s a really big job. And that was overwhelming to me. It actually caused me, at some point, to feel rather defeated. I was thinking no one’s going to believe this vision because it’s too big. But obviously, nothing is too big for God! I had to get beyond that and realize it’s not about me.

I thought about what I can do (which is limited), but God does look for people who will be a catalyst. God can do a lot when a team gets built. And besides that, there are 2,500 churches in the big “C” Church. There are 2,500 churches that that could get involved. There may be a quarter of a million people, or more, sprinkled across the city already. As you know, we are called to be salt and light to the world. So it’s a matter then of being able to connect them and mobilize them and help them to have tools to get where we’re trying to go.

God spoke to me one morning. And it’s funny how God’s always giving the answers, you know? One of the things I learned to do was to ask questions. A regular part of my devotional time with God is asking Him questions. And I think that our time with God should be more of a dialogue than a monologue. So I’ve learned to ask questions and listen and 90 percent of the time it isn’t like an answer drops right in. But often later in the day, when I’m driving my car, or sometimes when I’m just thinking about something completely different, maybe an answer to the question that I had asked that morning will drop into my mind. I’ve come to believe that’s one of the ways that God helps me know it came from Him. Because I think I’m really capable of making up answers just like I can ask the questions.

But if no answer comes at that moment and it’s later–you know, and someone tells me something out of the blue, or I hear something on the radio or TV or through a song, or there’s some It’s amazing—that’s how God works. Somehow something comes to me, and I’ll have this sense when it does that it’s the answer to the question I was praying.

One morning as I was praying I felt like, that just as clearly as I’m talking to you right now Donna, I heard these words in my mind, go find Chris Cooper.

And I thought, sorry if I’m being a little irreverent here, but like, God, you know where Chris Cooper is. Why are You asking me to go find him? That just seemed crazy. After that, I didn’t hear anything else. So I thought, well, I didn’t react very well to that question. Then I started thinking when is the last time I saw Chris Cooper. It was like ten years ago.

I did remember that Chris was one of the first persons I heard talk about pray, care, and share. And when we heard the message about being a lighthouse of prayer, I think he (Chris) was at that meeting. After that, I lost track of him. I thought I heard somewhere that someone said he might have moved south, maybe to Florida but I was really all I knew.

I came out of my little office where I was praying and Belinda, my wife, was fixing breakfast. I said, have you heard or seen from Chris Cooper? Belinda said I’ve not heard that name in a long time.

I said, Well, I think God told me to go find him.

She said, well, good luck with that.

I said I don’t have any idea how I’m going to find Chris Cooper but if you talk to anybody, ask people who might know and we will see how deep our search needs to go. I was kind of hurrying out the door because I was going to a conference across town that day and I was running late. I got to where I was going about 10 minutes late. The speaker was already into his message. The room was dark. You know how it is when you first come into a dark room. Your eyes are still adjusting. I was trying to find a place to sit and not be too conspicuous. And so I found a place, kind of in the back, and sat down. When I did the person beside me leaned over and said welcome, Gary Kendall.

And I said, Chris Cooper? I sat down right beside Chris Cooper who had come up that day from Orlando to be at that conference. So what are the odds? It blew my mind, and when I when, I realized whom it was.

Of course, that just gave me a real sense that, you know, God was directing this. I said to him, Hey, I got to have lunch with you. I was afraid maybe he would leave at lunchtime or something like that, and I wouldn’t get to ask him my questions. Even then I didn’t know what I was supposed to say to him. I was just I was supposed to find him.

So he goes, well, I have a lunch scheduled with a colleague. But let me see if you can join us. So he texted on his phone. Then he looks back over and says, yeah, come join us. Several of us will go to lunch. I said, thank you.

So we went to lunch at Chipotle. When Chris was graciously is buying my meal I began to talk to the other people with us. I’m sitting across the table from this lady named Kathy Branzel. She’s sitting there, and I’m sitting there, and we don’t know each other.

She says to me, well, what are you doing? And I said that’s a really good question because these days I wonder exactly what I’m doing. When I told her the real short story about feeling called to the city church and being led to pray, care and share and finding people to adopting neighborhoods and that kind of thing and she goes, that’s awesome! Do you know who I am, I mean, not that you should but do you know? I said, No, I’m sorry I really don’t. She goes, well, I’m Kathy Branzell. I’m one of the leaders of Mission America. Every day of my life I’m intersecting with city leaders, in different cities, who are trying to mobilize people to live the pray, care, and share lifestyle.

I said you got to be kidding me! And she goes, no, that’s what I do every day.

I said I didn’t know anybody else was doing this. I thought I’m the only one that I know. I thought this idea came to me. I didn’t know anybody was doing it. I should have guessed that other people were.

She goes, I’d say there are about 40 cities that are trying to do some different version of what you’re trying to do. There are city leaders across this across the United States with whom I’d be glad to connect you with. And she said they’d be glad to hear what you’re doing.

I said that would be fantastic because so far I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. I have no blueprint. I told her the story about God saying, I’ll lead you like Abraham.

By that time Chris got to the table, and he hadn’t heard my story yet. And so he goes, well, Gary, it’s great to connect with you. Tell me what you’re doing these days. Earlier I’d mentioned that I left Indian Creek. So I told him the story that I’ve told you.

He smiled and said, have you ever heard of Blesseveryhome.com? And I said, no, I’ve never heard of it. So he pulls out his phone and starts showing me. He said, did you say that you had a vision for every home being adopted in Kansas City by someone living the pray, care, and share lifestyle.  I said, yes, that’s what I said. And he goes, Well, I have a vision for everyone in America being adopted by a disciple who will live the pray, care and share lifestyle.

Gary:  I said, you win! That’s amazing that we would have the same vision! It is amazing. And he developed a tool to support it! He showed me Blesseveryhome.com.

I said you’ve got to be kidding me. I’m trying to keep track of people on spreadsheets and check them off by the neighborhoods of schools, and here you actually have their names and addresses where people live! People can sign up electronically, and they can pray for five neighbors a day!

I was blown away. I’d never seen a tool like Blesseveryhome.com.  And even now, 18 months later, I still haven’t seen anything as good as the tool that is Blesseveryhome.com.

So I said to Chris I have to get to know you. So right that day God just put a connection in our hearts because we are both called to such similar kinds of things. No one can make these stories up. Only God can do this kind of thing!

Donna:  So if that was 18 months ago where are you right now?

Well by God’s grace, I’m at a very interesting place. There is a lot of momentum. I’ll put it that way. There were around 300 lights in Kansas City, people who had adopted their neighborhoods, so we started with those. There were a couple of churches that had been using Blesseveryhome, so I connected with them. We began to tell the story and cast the vision for Kansas City.

By God’s grace, some really cool things began to happen like within a couple months. We grew to 600 lights. So we doubled really in about three or four months. We got to May of 2018, and there was a leader in Kansas City named, Matt Adams, who led a series called, “What if the Church? What if the churches would work together, worship together, and they share the same messages together and then do outreach together? This is the question they were asking.

There were 20 some churches that agreed together to do a sermon series. They had already chosen the series message titles of pray, care, and share. Again, you can’t make these things up. The irony of this whole thing is how God’s was working ahead of us. So Matt said, hey come on in and tell your story. Share at these churches about Blesseveryhome.com. He was a user of it and so is Westside Family Church where he is one of the Associates.

From that one series, we added 349 lights, which doubled the number in just one month. And from there we’ve grown by almost 100 lights a month, which is just incredible. It’s almost hard for me to believe that it’s grown that fast.

God has given a lot of opportunities and opened doors to share with churches, with ministries, and with whole networks, and across the city. There’s been a lot of support for this. Now the last number that I saw was nearly 2,000 lights in Kansas City which just astounding! But again, we’re shooting for 21,000. So while I celebrate 2,000, we have a long way to go.

But to stop and think for just a moment on what that represents. So let’s say 2,000 lights would each pray for 40 or 50 homes. Let’s stay on the conservative side of things. Let’s just say 80,000 homes are being prayed for. That’s a huge number in Kansas City! And if there are three persons in a home, which is what the average is, then we’re praying for nearly a quarter of a million people in Kansas City! And that’s what just 2,000 lights.

We set a goal to go from 2,000 this year of 2019 to 4,000. If we accomplish that we will be praying for almost half a million people in Kansas City! That’s so cool! 

I love what God is doing. I really feel that we are kind of at the tip of the iceberg. What we’ve started is wonderful. But I believe God’s heart is that there wouldn’t be any person who wakes up in Kansas City who wouldn’t be prayed for by a disciple of Jesus. And that everyone would be within arm’s length of someone who’s praying, caring, and sharing.

ACT 17 talks about how God places us; and our times and places are in His hands. I believe God has placed His people all around our city. Our spheres of influence encompass every person in Kansas City. Someone is a bridge to every non-believer in Kansas City

I love the church. I’m a big fan of the church, but it’s going to take individuals to reach the whole city. Churches have an important role, but we have to BE the church and take the good news to people. If we do that we can reach every person in Kansas City.

Donna:  Well that growth is just phenomenal. It is a God thing for sure. And so when did you get the idea for a podcast?

As we were trying to think, how do we mobilize people from joining something like Blesseveryhome to actually saying we want to be on mission together–we needed some way to connect people? Our dream goes beyond having just a person praying in every neighborhood.  We want to see missional communities rise up in every neighborhood.

I do want to see people go to what I call hubs, the churches on the corner, but I think they need to go to houses too. Often people have to belong before they believe. And so we need to help people with love and grace become a part of a community of faith. Many times that’s going to be the first step for people. If they don’t go to church at the invitation of a friend or relative, or unless they have some kind of crisis, they’re not out there every day thinking, I should go to church.

I’m guessing that 80% of our culture is not thinking, I should go to church next Sunday. So we have to go to them. We need to BE the church. We need to reach out to them and be a light where we live, work, study, and play.

So I’m thinking, well, how do we move from this place where people basically are busy? It’s not that they don’t care. They’re just busy, and they don’t really even know how to share their faith if they get that chance. And so this conviction came, why don’t I start a podcast where we tell stories. Let’s tell stories of people like Donna. And let’s tell stories from people you might call experts in the field to just the everyday Joe who has a passion for people but doesn’t really know how to express it. So let’s give them a voice. Let’s find a way to tell stories, and we’ll equip, we will inspire, and motivate people to take the Good News everywhere they live, work, study, and play.

Donna:  And so what do you hope to accomplish with it?

Gary:  Well, what I really hope is that we will change the way that the church and change the way that followers of Jesus see their life. I know that’s a really big hope, right? That’s like the biggest hope! But when I think of what Jesus was after when he called his disciples He wanted his disciples to make disciples that will make disciples. 

The Great Commission says to go into the world and make disciples. At that point, he doesn’t really tell how to do it. But then when you take the Great Commandments, and you put them there beside the Great Commission where He says, love God and love your neighbor, that’s how you connect these two things together.

If we start realizing that everyone around us is on a spiritual journey, God loves us, and if we love Him, it naturally overflows to loving one another. Jesus, in fact, before He leaves said this, I’m giving you a new commandment. It’s almost like he went from ten to two to one. And this new commandment is that you love one another as I have loved you. If you think about the power of that, then He’s essentially saying the way to reach the world is through love.

Now we’ve made programs, and we’ve made churches, and we’ve made all kinds of tools like Blesseveryhome.com. And thank God for programs and tools and churches and other kinds of things. But there is nothing that’s a substitute for love. And I really believe if we’re going to reach our world that it starts with loving God and loving our neighbor.

So my hope is we start a revolution. People will say to me sometimes, oh, I was so worried about our nation because it seems like our nation is, you know, going to hell in a handbasket. There are a lot of things happening in our world that I’m concerned about. But there is something that I rejoice over and want for each of you. One of the things I rejoice over is it seems to me that people are looking more than ever for authentic relationships with God and with each other.

It gives us great hope for the church because if we can help people just to take the natural next step and to extend their hand beyond their safe circle to people who don’t yet know Him. I think the church could be reborn. I really think there could be this grassroots effort of people being in love with God in their neighborhoods and inviting their neighbors into it and then serving as missionaries inside of their neighborhood. They could be the hands and feet of Jesus. What might happen is a kind of a pure, authentic, and genuine, personal kind of faith could rise up from the neighborhood? It could change our country. That is my hope, and that’s my prayer.

Donna:  That’s amazing.

Gary:  Yeah. So we have a ways to go, but it’s fun to talk about it today. Thanks, Donna for interviewing me. And for those who are listening let me just close by saying that we invite you into this. We would love to participate, not just in Kansas City, but also around the nation with you. We’d love to hear your stories. We want to see new ways come about. We will get behind you to cheer you on. Or maybe we can bring resources to the things that you’re doing. Let’s keep telling this story.

So because you’re listening to the podcast today, please share it, and then please connect with us through our Website at Blesseveryhome.com or at Lovekc.net.

So thanks for listening. And let’s join Jesus where we live, study, work, and play.

Donna:  Thanks for joining in today for the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. People often ask, what do the letters stand for in bless? We like to think of B.L.E.S.S as a lifestyle where we B begin with prayer. L we listen to God and to others. E we eat together. S we serve and S we share our story and we share the story of Jesus.

We not only pray that every home in America will be adopted by a disciple who lives this lifestyle but also that those that do will join their efforts to build missional communities where we live, learn, work, and play. If you haven’t yet signed up for Blesseveryhome.com, you can go there now. You can find more from Host Gary Kendall including ways to connect outside of this podcast at loveKC.net.

Thank you for being a part of this B.L.E.S.S. podcast today. We invite you to subscribe to it, like it, share it, and write a review. Now let’s join Jesus where He is already at work.