During a long-term missions effort in Budapest, Hungary, a simple thought occurred to Send KC planter Dave Partin: What might God do through a church that went above and beyond to love its neighborhood? For Dave and his wife, Rivers, that thought began to cultivate a desire to plant a church that would do just that: love its neighborhood well.
Fast forward only a few short years and Dave and Rivers would find themselves returning to Overland Park, Kansas—a suburban area just outside of Kansas City the two of them had already grown to love. Dave and Rivers began to employ a simple strategy in their immediate neighborhood, inviting their neighbors to join them in their home on Sunday evenings for dinner, prayer, and conversation about life. These Sunday evening dinners began to grow, and soon Dave added a second point of contact with the community: open-invitation fireside chats on Thursday evenings, where neighbors were invited to come and talk about life.
Dave describes the process as an “on-ramp” to church life. He recognizes it is no small journey to make. The combination of Sunday evening dinners, Thursday fireside chats, and various other means of building neighborhood friendships provided people with little-to-no church background opportunity to familiarize themselves with gospel conversations in a natural environment.
Six months of Sunday evening dinners and Thursday night fireside chats eventually led to a Neighborhood Church launch service last month which saw 105 attendees. On top of Sunday service, members are also encouraged to join themselves with a “Neighborhood Group”; these groups meet in members’ homes, providing more intimate, personal settings for conversation about life and the gospel.
For Dave, Rivers, and other leaders at Neighborhood Church, love for one’s neighbor is not secondary but essential; Neighborhood Church has already begun to address the needs of its community by volunteering at its local elementary school, serving on the local PTA, and mentoring students. But the needs of the community transcend the physical; when asked about his dream for Neighborhood Church, Dave Partin has a ready answer: “The neighborhood will know it has a community of believers who will care for it because that community of believers follows a glorious God.”
In other words, Neighborhood Church strives to serve its community in Overland Park, KS in order to accomplish an even greater goal: to point that community toward Jesus.
Learn more about Dave and Rivers’s journey here.
Learn more about Neighborhood Church here.