VERO BEACH– Derrick West knows the power of words. The church planter proclaims the word of God through the words of both his sermons and his writings.
These words have helped him build a healthy New Testament church as well as reach many people beyond the walls of the church.
Planting a church
West launched Genesis Church in Vero Beach along Florida’s Treasure Coast in 2015. What originally launched in a restaurant with a handful of people is now a vibrant church family of 150-175 who are committed to taking the gospel not only to their neighbors in Vero Beach but also throughout Florida, the nation and world.
“When you plant, you learn quickly that the church is the Lord’s,” West shared. “The hand of the Lord is evident in the existence of the church.”
Originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, West said his greatest ministry passions are expository preaching, teaching, writing and cultivating relationships. He attributes the health of the seven-year-old church plant to being anchored to God’s Word and gospel-centered relationships.
Deriving the church’s ministry model from Acts 2, West leads Genesis Church to be a New Testament congregation that prioritizes expository preaching and teaching, worship, fellowship and prayer.
“We are going to devote ourselves to the teaching of God’s word, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer. It’s not too much more difficult than that,” West said. “We are a disciple-minded church that is going to invest in people.”
Though church planting comes with its fair share of challenges, West said the calling of God and partnerships are vital in church planting. Through partnerships on the state and local levels–Florida Baptist Convention, Treasure Coast Baptist Association, and Kings Baptist Church as its sending church–Genesis Church has not served alone.
“The phrase ‘Right Beside You’ is not a cliché. As Florida Baptists, we really do have people right beside us … they really are friends. Relationships in ministry are invaluable,” West shared.
“Genesis Church and Pastor Derrick West are making a huge impact in the community of Vero,” said Craig Culbreth, Florida Baptists’ East regional catalyst.
“I am so thankful that God has men of God like Derrick who serve faithfully and churches that serve their community!”
A ministry of writing
Pastor West not only leads Genesis Church to impact its community with the gospel but also uses his gifts in writing to reach even more people. During the global pandemic in 2020, West used research from a recent sermon series and his doctoral dissertation from Colorado Theological Seminary to publish a book, “League of Pardoned Rebels.” The book gives readers a close look at the league Jesus created with His original disciples.
With his expository preaching as a framework for his writing, West has been able to reach and encourage people beyond the church walls, even resulting in countless visitors traveling to attend Genesis.
West’s words don’t stop there. The pastor is currently preaching through a sermon series in the gospel of Mark and hopes to write another book, encouraging people to experience God in the midst of their suffering.
Whether it’s through his preaching, writing or taking on countless other roles as a church planter, West is adamant that the kingdom is built through the consistent hand of God leading and calling.
“We don’t want to create people in our image,” he said.
“We want to merely be the vehicle the Lord uses to bring people to Him. A lot of our greatest work in ministry are things that we don’t see in people’s hearts and lives.
“Being able to look back and know that the Lord called you to plant and that God’s hand is on you and your people to do something truly unique is rewarding.”