Midwestern Seminary announces Center for Church Planting launch; Hedger named director

Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen announced the launch of The Midwestern Seminary Center for Church Planting on Sept. 16, and named a noted North American Mission Board church planter as its leader.

According to Allen, the Center for Church Planting will serve as a hub and a catalyst for church planting in Kansas City and the Midwest, partnering with NAMB as well as the Missouri and Kansas-Nebraska state conventions.

“In that Kansas City is one of NAMB’s designated Send Cities, launching our Center for Church Planting uniquely positions Midwestern to help penetrate lostness in the region, equip church planters for service across the globe, and is a further demonstration of this seminary’s resolve to exist for the church,” Allen said.

Kansas City was named a NAMB Send City in 2012. Send Cities are selected by their density of population, lostness, and the low ratio of SBC churches-to-population. NAMB’s goal through this movement is to see a net gain of 5,000 new Southern Baptist congregations by the year 2022, a goal that would surpass any previous decade of net gain in the SBC.

Allen named Joshua Hedger, the lead pastor at Freshwater Church in Bolivar, Mo., and noted church planter, as the Center’s director. In previous ministry and denominational roles, Hedger served as a church-planting strategist for PlantMIDWEST and was second vice president for the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Expressing his enthusiasm and excitement about adding Hedger to the team at Midwestern, Allen said, “Josh Hedger is uniquely prepared to lead the Midwestern Seminary Center for Church Planting. He is a proven church planter, having started and led one the fastest growing churches in America. He is a leader in the church planting movement, in the state convention, and is increasingly so in the broader SBC and church-planting world. Though young, he is widely respected by pastors of all ages throughout the convention.”

Kansas City is about to become the sending force for church planters and pastors into our continent.

Of being selected to lead Midwestern’s Center for Church Planting, Hedger said, “One of my greatest passions is to see men equipped and sent to pastor and plant. It has been one of my greatest joys at Freshwater to see this happen. The Center will assess, teach, train, coach and network church planters.”

Other denominational leaders expressed praise for both the Church Planting Center and its new director. John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, shared his appreciation and vision for the Center, saying, “I am convinced that the Midwestern Center for Church Planting will provide a way for building and maintaining networks of coaching and mentoring church planters who will become future leaders in the SBC. That is why we must skill them with biblical principles and cooperative strategies. Perhaps in the future, instead of Southern Baptists being known as people against something, we will become known as kingdom-building people on mission with God.”

Yeats also spoke highly of the Center’s new leader, who has served predominantly within the Missouri Baptist Convention throughout his ministry. “Hedger is gifted and skilled in leading others to understand their Great Commission mission of leading people to Christ and planting new Bible-believing, cooperative congregations,” Yeats said. “He ‘gets it’ as to the Cooperative Program. He has a great family heritage, and he has a deep personal belief that when cooperating churches start churches, there is an entire network of people praying, giving, and supporting a new church plant.”

John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., praised Hedger’s knowledge and expertise in church planting as well, saying, “Josh is one of the most gifted church planters I have ever worked with. He knows how to get it done. By having a forum from which to share his expertise, the church planting world just got a lot better.”

Micah Fries, vice president of LifeWay Research and Midwestern Seminary Alumni President, noted that Hedger possesses a unique gifting for this position. “Josh Hedger is as passionate about planting churches as anyone I know. What’s more, he is as gifted as anyone I know. His skill set is uniquely married to a brilliant mind, which positions him to be a leader and trainer among church planters. I cannot think of anyone who could be a better fit to lead this strategic initiative at this time.”

Fries added that the Center’s placement at Midwestern Seminary is significant within the church planting movement, saying, “Located in the geographic center of the country, the Midwest is uniquely positioned to influence Americans for Christ. Kansas City, in particular, is a beautiful and strategic city and offers an ideal location through which the Midwestern Seminary Center for Church Planting is able to educate and deploy God-called church planters to advance the kingdom of Jesus from the Midwest to the four corners of the globe.”

Hedger also firmly believes in the importance of Kansas City in the strategy to reach people in this region with the gospel of Christ.

“Kansas City is about to become the sending force for church planters and pastors into our continent,” he said. “The Center for Church Planting is a major part of that movement because it will draw in students and give them the training needed beyond classroom lectures.”

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