Church planter global vision trip inspires The Way Church to launch ‘with the nations on their heart’


Zach Schemmer’s early home life is a collection of memories tainted by drug addiction – first of his father’s and later, his own. So even though, as he puts it, he “grew up in the church world,” God’s global mission felt like the furthest thing from his mind.

“Growing up, mission trips, for me, meant serving in the inner city,” he shares. “The church that I was a part of didn’t talk about international missions, so it wasn’t something that I had on my mind, let alone on my heart.”

After coming to Christ at 21 and finding long-term recovery through the power of the gospel, Zach dedicated the next seven years of his life to working for an addiction recovery nonprofit. For a while, Zach and his wife, Chelsea, thought that addiction recovery ministry could be a lifetime calling – until God led them to plant a church in Kansas City, Kan.

In 2022, Zach and his wife began the church planting journey through Send Network, and that was when he learned about Church Planter Global Vision Trips. A partnership between Send Network and the International Mission Board, Global Vision Trips are designed to immerse newly endorsed church planters in global kingdom activity.

“I’d never done anything like this,” Schemmer says. “I’d never even been overseas and had no exposure to international missions.”

“Going into the trip,” he adds, “I was thinking that this is something our church can get involved in years down the road – we’re not ready to reach the nations as a small church plant.”

Just weeks before The Way Church KC’s Launch Sunday, Zach landed in Southeast Asia with a team of other Send Network planters. For the next week, he spent his mornings receiving training from IMB staff about the missionary task, culture, religion and pathways to creating partnerships.

“Having the planters and missionaries in one room as we put our heads together, shared our experiences and listened to theirs was incredible. I just felt like a sponge soaking everything up,” Schemmer shares.

In the afternoons, Zach and the other church planters dispersed into the city to evangelize and serve alongside IMB personnel. As they held spiritual conversations with those living in the city’s slums, Zach was surprised by the openness with which they were met.

“It broke and burdened my heart for reaching the nations,” he says. Referencing Acts 1:8, he adds, “As a church planter who had never been on a global mission trip, I could see the mission of the local church in our neighborhood and city – our Jerusalem and Judea, but this trip added that ‘end of the earth’ piece for me.”

According to Mike Laughrun, the director of global engagement for Send Network, these Global Vision Trips are designed to expose Send Network planters to God’s global activity. Each trip introduces planters to IMB teams serving in various locations around the globe.

“Long-term,” Laughrun says, “we desire to see every Send Network church actively making disciples among their neighbors and engaged in God’s global activity among the nations.”

“We want to see our church planters in North America plant with a vision for the nations from the very beginning,” says Chris Derry, the IMB’s director of church and campus engagement, who leads the Global Vision Trips initiative along with Laughrun.

“That means the nations in their backyard,” Derry continues, “as well as nations around the world. The Great Commission is to make disciples of all the nations globally, and that’s not something that they get to eventually, but that they’re working on from the beginning.”

When Send Network planters participate in a Global Vision Trip, they learn about the IMB’s church planting process, from entry to evangelism to discipleship to healthy church formation and leadership development. Planters can then apply these strategies in their contexts across cities in North America.

For Zach and his church, which is situated in one of the most diverse areas of Kansas City, that meant changing the message for their Launch Sunday, which took place this past Easter, to focus on the importance of reaching the nations.

“There’s no one dominant demographic in our neighborhood. We have the nations coming to us in a sense, and I think that adds to the importance of preaching about the nations,” Schemmer says.

“This trip changed me in ways I didn’t expect,” he adds. “And as a result, our church is launching with the nations on our heart – down to praying, changing our Sunday sermon this Easter, and eventually sending. It altered the trajectory of our church.”