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In faith, church puts down roots in permanent home

Pastor Danny Duran of Life.Church Overland Park is preparing for the church’s first services at its new home, a 43,611-square-foot building at 9800 W. 135th St., Overland Park.
Pastor Danny Duran of Life.Church Overland Park is preparing for the church’s first services at its new home, a 43,611-square-foot building at 9800 W. 135th St., Overland Park. skeyser@kcstar.com

Pastor Danny Duran of Life.Church Overland Park is a man of deep faith. And like most pastors, he lives for the opportunity to share his faith with as many people as possible.

Since March, he has done that by leading worship services at a temporary location at Blue Valley’s Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park. But come Sunday, he will get a chance to lead his congregation in a new 43,611-square-foot building at 9800 W. 135th St. in Overland Park.

Life.Church will hold its first services in the new building at 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. For Duran, it’s an opportunity to invite even more people into his church community.

“I’m ecstatic to reach more people,” Duran said. “Our vision is to lead people to be fully devoted followers of Christ. Not many people drive by a middle school and see it as a church. Now, when they pass by our church they will associate it with that opportunity.”

Life.Church is a nondenominational church based in Edmond, Okla. It has 25 locations in seven states. The church broke ground on the $7.3 million Overland Park building last December. Funding for the project came from Life.Church donors from 25 locations, including the Overland Park congregation.

In January, a small group of church staff arrived here and began inviting people to join them for worship services on Sunday mornings in their temporary location.

Duran said he and his staff members used word-of-mouth to help publicize the establishment of Life.Church Overland Park. They would hold staff meetings in public places and would always wear t-shirts publicizing the church.

They would invite people they met to join them at several core group meetings that they held. As attendance grew at those meetings, so did the numbers for their first Sunday service held on Easter.

“We had 105 people show up at the first core group meeting,” Duran said. “We used social media like Facebook and Instagram and our core group grew from 105 to 150. We had 846 people attend our first service on March 27.”

Life.Church Overland Park has about 550 regular attenders. Duran said the church prefers to use the word “attender” rather than member, because they don’t have a formal membership at Life.Church Overland Park. The new church will seat between 900 and 1,000 people.

Bill Chaney of Leavenworth is one of the regular worshippers at Life.Church Overland Park. He is an Army veteran who suffers from PTSD. He said over the years he has struggled to find a church home; but no more.

“I’ve always wanted to get back involved in a church, but thought I had to have my life all together,” Chaney said. “But just seeing the community here and the love they have for each other and the way they handle things, I know that this is my place. No matter where I go in life, my church will always be my home.”

Having a permanent church home is also important to Duran. Since March, Duran and a team of 45 volunteers have been basically putting together a worship site every week.

Every Saturday night, two large semi-trailers would arrive at the middle school with everything that Duran needs to hold church services the next day. At 6 a.m. Duran and his volunteers begin unloading the trailers that contain everything from a stage to speakers to music equipment. They finish in time for Duran to hold his first service at 10 a.m.

Duran is thrilled to now have a permanent location to hold his church services. However, he said that even though setting up a church every week was backbreaking work, some will actually miss it.

“Many people have told me they are going to miss the set up even though they are excited to get into the new church,” Duran said. “They will miss it because they have built friendships by helping with this. And they’ve gotten to build a church experience every week and they take pride in that.”

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