Through prayer and partnerships, Redemption City is seeing God move in a mighty way
The population of Fort Worth has increased by 30% since 2010, making it the second-fastest-growing city in Texas, according to statistics cited by church planter Matt Kendrick. Projections indicate Cowtown will basically double in population by 2040 compared to 2000, prompting a major need for more churches.
“The counterintuitive thing is how many more churches Fort Worth and cities around Texas need now,” Kendrick, lead pastor of Redemption City Church in Fort Worth, said recently. “A misconception even that I had before planting here was that there are plenty of churches, but that is not the case.”
A culture shift has accompanied the population growth so that fewer Fort Worth residents are attending church today than in 2010, Kendrick said, indicating a need for fresh congregations to reach the city.
People are moving to Fort Worth from other parts of the country and the world. Kendrick said his neighborhood is a good illustration of the trend: he has neighbors from Michigan, California, and a country in the Middle East. “God is bringing the nations to our doorstep,” he said.
Kendrick served at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano and at Biltmore Church in North Carolina before God led him to plant in Fort Worth in 2020. Redemption City started with four core families, and they officially launched last August at the Benbrook YMCA, where they still meet.
The YMCA is “the perfect location” because it’s at the center of a five-mile target radius the church has identified to reach, Kendrick said. Another reason for planting in Fort Worth is its proximity to students.
With Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Texas Christian University, and other colleges, “we see Fort Worth as a strategic city to accomplish the Great Commission,” the pastor said. In its infancy, Redemption City already is sending students to about 10 countries this summer.
Kendrick said 100% of the people attending Redemption City are unchurched, dechurched (haven’t attended church in 15-20 years), or are new to the area. In other words, their growth isn’t from taking people from existing churches.
The church has identified 120,000 households in its target area, and church leaders have a goal of knocking on all of those doors within 10 years. “We’re eating an elephant one weekend at a time,” Kendrick said.
With knocking on doors as their primary outreach strategy, Redemption City also has taken a posture of servanthood in Fort Worth, Kendrick said. “We find ways to serve our neighbors. We do free car washes. We go on running trails and give out free bottles of water.
“At Christmas, we gave all of the teachers in Benbrook—two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school—a coffee gift card or a Sonic gift card of $25 to say, ‘Thanks for all you’re doing. You’re surviving the pandemic through all the different things. Way to go.’”
Redemption City had 176 people on Easter this year. The average attendance is around 150, but it has grown by 10 percent each month since the beginning, Kendrick said. “When we were growing from 30 to 33, that was exciting,” he said, “but now that we’re at about 145-150 people growing 10 percent a month, it’s really kind of snowballing and getting fun.”
Just like Jesus, Kendrick said Redemption City will “take anybody,” but the kind of stories that are emerging of people being reached include that of a couple that got pregnant at age 16 and were “judged harshly” by their church. That was 20 years ago, and they’ve only recently started attending church again, this time at Redemption City.
Now the family has grown to six, and recently the mother, father, and four children received Jesus as Savior, Kendrick said.
“Those are the kinds of people that we’re reaching, and it’s so exciting. From death to life, new kingdom growth,” he said.
Established churches play an integral role in church planting, Kendrick said. Prestonwood is their sending church, and churches across the state, including Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler and Broadview Baptist Church in Abilene, support them monthly or yearly and send mission teams to spur them on.
In fact, mission teams from partner churches have knocked on most of the doors in the target radius on behalf of Redemption City, Kendrick said. Such teams also help set up and tear down at the YMCA on Sundays, “which is such a big feat for us because that’s such a grind.”
All Southern Baptist churches are supporting church planting through the Cooperative Program, Kendrick noted, but he advised churches that don’t currently have a direct link to a church plant to reach out to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention so they can get connected.
“I can’t tell you how many Sunday school classes and Wednesday night prayer meetings are praying for Redemption City,” he said. “All across the country, churches are praying for us, and we are growing and seeing the lost saved. Those two data points are connected.”