Beloved Blue Springs pastor Joey Butler dies at 51

Pastor Joey Butler, the beloved Blue Springs minister whose faith inspired thousands, has died at age 51.

Suffering with renal cell cancer since Christmas 2011, even in his illness he found ways to teach people God’s love. His church family often joked that their minister wasn’t sick whenever he reentered the hospital. But that God needed him to meet someone there.

The Gateway Church founder was featured in The Star in March, when word spread that the unofficial chaplain for the Blue Springs High School football team was stepping down from his position.

He prepared his family, his friends and his congregation, joking with them even a few days before his death. Cindi Skeen, a church secretary, said the tweets from high school students erupted on Sunday when news spread. But one tweet, she said, described him the best:

“Joey never wrote a book. And he didn’t have a mega church. He just made hundreds of disciples who made disciples.”

His sermon stories and jokes reached people in their everyday lives. He wrapped spiritual messages using baseball metaphors, his dog, or even the weather. He was endlessly creative finding deeper meaning in the smaller moments of life.

Because he could see God in the chaos of living.

Butler believed that God used him to bless especially those with broken lives. And to the pastor, everyone was broken somewhere.

“Nothing is more inspiring then to see people thrive in adversity,” he told The Star. “What’s inspiring in something that’s easy?”

A Celebration of Life for Butler is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Blue Springs High School’s Performing Arts Center, 2000 Ashton Drive. The church asks that guests wear “Joey attire! Casual.” Butler’s family will be wearing Mississippi State logoed clothes, and especially the color maroon, his favorite color on earth.

Skeen said the church moved the celebration to the larger venue because so many people are coming. “It will be a joyful evening... He was loved.”