Love + fortify + support


Westside Family Church is committed to serving local families with world-class, comprehensive emotional + spiritual care

By RaeAnn Slaybaugh

All photos by Brian Canaday

By any measure, Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kan., is a healthy, growing and vibrant church-family.

In 2021, Westside’s leaders began to pray about their next season of impact.

In early 2022, the church body joined in, embarking on 40 days of prayer and fasting, as Executive Pastor Dan Chaverin says, to “hear God’s direction and priorities.”

“We solicited the church-family’s impressions, consulted the scripture, and prayerfully discerned God’s call to become more Unshakeable in our faith and love,” Chaverin recalls. “We then invited our church into an Unshakeable challenge, with every member individually taking a step of faith and love.”

In the end, they were united in one vision: to share the church’s abundant resources and generosity by building and operating a Westside Family Care Center.

Caring for the community has long been a service for which Westside Family Church is a standard-bearer.
For 20 years, the church has accomplished this through serving thousands of families in the region — and around the world — with three locations in Kansas City, and substantial community-based ministries in Thailand, India and South Africa. On a large scale, the Westside team provides gospel-centered care, preemptive marriage enrichment, support to help families stay together, parenting skills development, support for children and teens in crisis, guidance for increased emotional wellbeing and life-purpose, and ample opportunities for people to be embraced in the community — and, importantly, to meaningfully serve others as part of the solution.
“Although professional counseling is a very important foundation of our care, our focus really is much larger than counseling,” Chaverin points out. “It’s more about demonstrating God’s love in practical ways.”
Building and operating a new, future two-story, 20,000-square-foot Westside Family Care Center is evidence of this commitment.
“We are expanding our existing capacity to support our families, and countless more families living in our region who are struggling with emotional, relational and spiritual pain,” Chaverin explains. “We want to be a light in a dark world, and God graciously answered our prayers and provided us refreshed vision.
“[The Center] will also serve as a prototype for potential future efforts to effectively love, support, and equip families in our city and beyond,” he adds.

Building on a shared mission focus, common values
With the spiritual foundation laid and so much at stake, Chaverin and Pastor of Staff Development Jeff Manford knew they would need a solid financial infrastructure to ensure the Center lives up to its potential.
“Our objective was to secure a strong, like-minded partnership with a lender who would understand and support our vision as we move into the exciting future endeavors God is calling us to do,” Chaverin says.
Manford agrees: “It’s very important. Sometimes when you’re talking with secular lenders, it can be a different language, because they don’t know your financial structure and the nuances of how churches operate. They’re just a different animal.”


America faces a growing mental and spiritual health crisis manifested in historic levels of depression, anxiety, suicide, divorce, family disintegration, abuse, and substance addiction. In Kansas, this crisis hits home: Mental Health America Study 2023 recently ranked it last out of 50 states in mental health wellbeing, and 48th in access to care.
In Johnson County — where Westside Family Church is located — 92,000 residents have a diagnosable mental health condition; 25,000 have severe mental illness; 12.4% have a substance use disorder; and 12% of youth have experienced a major depressive episode, according to Mental Health Briefing 2021-2022.
“These conditions are manifestations of deep emotional, relational and spiritual illness, with current resources not meeting this profound level of need,” explains Executive Pastor Dan Chaverin. “Our solution [is to] establish a Family Care Center to provide families comprehensive emotional and spiritual care.
When it’s finished, this two-story, 20,000-square-foot facility will provide:

Professional counseling — Biblically-grounded certified counselors providing specialized care in the areas of depression, anxiety, relationships, marriage therapy, addiction recovery and others

Recovery care groups — Support groups providing help and encouragement within the community addressing healthy relationships, addiction, grief, divorce, teen anxiety, abortion, abuse and more

Proactive marriage & family support & equipping classes; premarital preparation; marriage health; parenting; teen support

Specialized child and student emotional health services — Dedicated child play-therapy facilities with certified professionals

Foster & adoption training & family support; child development; foster family support; community foster & adoption training

Ongoing family support:
• Stephen Ministers (longer-term care)
• Deacons (practical needs, benevolence)
• Area Shepherds (community support network)
• Prayer (spiritual support and equipping)

Benevolence support

Ample opportunities for people and families to be embraced into authentic community

As Chaverin points out, with the establishment of this Center, the church will build upon existing Westside assets, including:

• Professional counseling services and systems: The WFC counseling team delivered 5,468 counseling sessions in 2023. Demand continues to greatly exceed current capacity.

• Care Group network — Thirty-five (35) groups are providing care for hundreds.

• Proactive family equipping classes — marriage enrichment, parenting, spiritual development

• Comprehensive foster & adoption family support

• Area Shepherds, Stephen Ministers, Deacons, Prayer, Benevolence, thousands of active church member-volunteers, and a 90-member church staff

• Extensive relationships with like-minded churches and Christian ministries citywide, including ongoing partnerships leading City efforts for racial reconciliation

Additionally, Chaverin and Manford found that some familiar lenders had moved away from supporting faith-based organizations, or they were creating additional layers of complexity. “In the higher-interest-rate environment and slowing economy, it’s understandable that banks have become a little more stringent in their lending,” Manford says. “So, that was a big factor.”
They persisted. One option — Thrivent Church Financing — was familiar to both men as a well-established and trusted entity that provides purpose-driven guidance and loan financing solutions to faith-based organizations focused on community impact.
“Thrivent stepped in, and we had a bit of a head start; they understand churches and their mission,” Chaverin explains. “So, they were very responsive and very eager. They were leaning in.”
Case in point: When Westside representative Chris Lewis, Senior Relationship Manager of Church Financing at Thrivent, traveled to Lenexa to meet with Chaverin and Manford, the first thing he said was, “I’d love to hear your story.”
It was a pivotal moment.
“[Lewis] mentioned that his wife is a licensed therapist, so the heartbeat was similar there and we sensed the larger heart of Thrivent,” Manford recalls. “He took a special interest in the why of this project.”

Year established: 1977
Number of locations: 3
Number of staff: 90+
Combined weekly attendance: 5,000

Trailblazing ministry, fully funded

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For a church to build an entire facility dedicated to providing its community with comprehensive emotional and spiritual care is a rarity — complete with professional counseling, recovery care groups, marriage and family support services, and so much more. As Chaverin explains, Westside’s heart for people to know Jesus is behind all of it.
“Jesus is the true healer,” he emphasizes. “All we do as a church, as a family — in our gatherings, in our groups, in our area — is centered around His good news. He’s the one who brings life, who brings health. When we invite people on the journey to know Him, to become like Him and to get on mission for Him, then health, life, community and joy follow.
“That’s what we get to do,” he concludes. “It’s a way for us to walk the talk and reach people who otherwise might not be too interested in church. And we’re very grateful to be able to serve in this way.”
Fortunately, the financing component of the equation shares this vision, providing consistent communication and continued interest in the project along the way.
“Although there has been lots to do with regards to the financing in terms of providing information, they’ve kept us apprised of the status and ensured that we’re informed about the general progress of the lending,” Manford says.
“They have listened,” Chaverin agrees. “[Lewis] and his team have walked with us through every step providing great guidance while ensuring our needs were met and the process was successful.
“And they’ve adjusted their responses to meet what we’ve needed, including showing significant flexibility on the terms of the financing,” he adds.


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