A Spirit of Collaboration in Kansas City

In the summer of 2019, I was walking through a tremendously challenging season in life. My now wife and I walked away from a church split that left us feeling confused, broken, and alone. We didn’t know what we were supposed to do next; all we had was a deep sense that God was calling us to start something new. When a friend invited me to a NewThing event here in KC, I knew I had to go.

Almost three years later, God has grown a team to plant Rock Island Church in Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. When I look back over the last couple of years, I see that random NewThing event in the summer of 2019 as a moment that would change my life forever. I ran into Craig Kackley, pastor of Church of the Four Corners. As I shared my story, Craig was a source of support and invited me to be a part of NewThing Kansas City. He not only encouraged me but also made a point to include me.

From that moment on, I quickly learned what NewThing was about. Pastors and leaders from all different denominations, tribes, and walks of life come together with a single goal: To see a movement of churches and disciples reproduced. Through NewThing, I met Dan Southerland of Restore Community Church, who has repeatedly held Rock Island and me accountable for the things that matter. God has used Dan to push us towards a great commission culture, equipping disciples to be disciple-makers.

Alex Sons, Lead Pastor of Rock Island Church

At a time when I was asking tough questions about what God was calling us to start, I was introduced to the Kansas City Underground at a NewThing gathering. When I reached out to Rob Wegner, one of the directors of the Kansas City Underground, he invited me to meet some of the team. As I shared my story and they shared theirs, I had never felt more understood in my life. The Kansas City Underground showed me a way of ministry and service to the city that put into words and actions the dreams and vision I felt God had given me. Since then, the Underground has been an overwhelming source of support, full of friends and coaches.

Rock Island Church wouldn’t exist without NewThing. Since 2020, I have served on staff as a resident and pastor with Craig and Church of the Four Corners, and I’ve learned more than I had ever imagined I could. In 2021, I went through a Church Planters Cohort with Dan Southerland and Restore Community Church. Through this cohort, God laid much of the foundation for what systems and structures would have to be in place for Rock Island to be a reproducing Network of disciples and churches. Over the last 9 months, I’ve made a point to spend as much time with the Kansas City Underground as I possibly could. They have offered training, resources, and coaching as to what a new, decentralized model of the church can look like here in the United States and what it takes to lead that kind of Network.

The spirit of collaboration that NewThing has brought to Kansas City is special. I am constantly reminded that even in the middle of trying to help lead Rock Island, the vision will always be bigger. It has to be. If we want to see the spiritual landscape of Kansas City change, we have to do it together.

At Rock Island, our mission is simple: we are following Jesus together to see every homemade fully alive. Although we are only a few months into Rock Island’s story, we are already starting to see a glimpse of what that can look like. Young couples are taking on the responsibility of disciple-making in their neighborhoods for themselves. People are coming to know Jesus as the Lord of their life for the very first time because Rock Island is taking the Great Commission seriously. Men and Women are finding their way back to Jesus for the first time in nearly 20 years because the people of Rock Island served them with the Love of Jesus and the hope of the gospel.

We launched Rock Island in January 2022 with a goal to reproduce disciples and missionaries to see microchurches emerge across our city. Since then, we’ve seen God do some really amazing things:

  • We’re starting to see these simple expressions of church flourish in groups that haven’t entered the doors of a church building in years.
  • God has provided financially and continues to show us he’s a God of abundance in this fundraising season.
  • Our team has grown from a handful to now 40+ people in just a few short months since January.
  • Best of all, people are finding their way home to Jesus and discovering the plans He has written for their lives.

As God continues to show us places of need, we’re praying that this growing group can continue to bring streams of hope into our city. As we see broken homes restored, people fed and clothed, new businesses form to serve the city, and whatever else God creates out of Rock Island, our prayer is that the hope of Jesus shines bright through all of it. We love our city, and we’re excited to see how God uses this team to see every home made fully alive in it through the hope of Jesus.

All of this is possible because NewThing exists. I have found a tribe in NewThing, and I cannot wait to see more disciples made and more churches planted here in Kansas City and beyond. Jesus is mighty and at work here in Kansas City, and I am honored he has allowed me to be a part of it.”

Help the collaboration continue in Kansas City and worldwide. Check out http://newthing.org/gotogether for more info.

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