Anniversary Highlight: Revive Church

Oct 7, 2020

This little post comes all the way from Independence, Missouri and about 3 miles from Arrowhead Stadium – the home of the Super Bowl Champions, yes, your Kansas City Chiefs. In 2020 we are celebrating our 5-year anniversary!  What a journey church planting has been for me, my family and the team that helped us get going. 

Let’s go back to the heart-start in 2012.  My wife Krystin, daughter Nora and myself were living in a small house in an under-resourced part of Wichita, Kansas.  We had some crime and gang violence hit our block.  My response was to start a neighborhood watch to get to know the people around us so we could watch out for each other.  Doing so sparked a heart for my block as well as an awareness of how difficult it was to bridge the gap between neighborhood and church. 

During this time, I was watching at a distance as a new church – Discover Church – developed Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It was planted by a good friend of mine, Mike Evans.  In early 2013, I was introduced to Stadia and Justin Moxley.  I met in KC with my church planter friend Mike and Justin from Stadia.  We dreamed about the possibility of planting a new church in the KC area after a residency to gain experience.  I would be lying if I said my wife and I were on the same page.  I was so ready to jump, but that caused hurt in our marriage that took 2-3 years and counseling to heal. 

So, we moved to KC, started a residency with Discovery Church, worked hard to raise funds as we lived in an apartment.  My role at the church was to preach a little, watch and listen, start some groups, but mainly drive around KC, pray and listen to where God was leading me.  After about 2 weeks, I was encouraged by another Stadia church planter to drive around without GPS, get lost, pray and trust that the Spirit was going to lead me to the area of town I was to land.  That day I drove past Van Horn High School, felt a strong push to pay attention to that story and learn everything I can about that neighborhood. 

Here’s how God works – I was driving around looking for a location for this new church while the Associate Principal at Van Horn High School was praying in his office for a ministry to come and serve the neighborhood.  Justin, the associate principal and myself connected through a friend of his who knew about me and the search for the church’s location.  Once we sensed God’s leading, we jumped again.  We bought a house right in the neighborhood, settled in best we could, started a launch team in my living room and listened for about a year as to what kind of church the neighborhood needed.  Here’s what we found. 

Independence is a unique city for sure. It’s historically rich being home to President Harry Truman, to Civil War battlegrounds, and to the “Mount Zion” for Joseph Smith’s followers and the Community of Christ Church.  Also, it is a neighborhood that has been in decline economically for nearly two generations with crime rates were on the rise and escalating drug abuse.  So, here we come trying to listen and learn. 

What we found were some great works that had already started around 2008.  Van Horn High School was annexed into the Independence School District along with 4 other schools (taken from KCMO) which sparked a lot of good and neighborhood pride.  With that also came resources, some great non-profits, housing focus and us (the church) to serve a neighborhood comeback story like few others. So, the word “partner” was key for us.  We listened to what other groups were doing and simply asked: “How can we help?”  This approach advanced us much further than doing it all on our own. We felt needed and more a part of a movement. 

So for starters, we became mentors in the schools and encouragers to social workers.  We felt as if we were “photo-bombing” the community in that we didn’t want to be in charge of all the efforts to spark good, just in the picture and quick to give God all the credit.  This posture of partnering and listening became how we were known in the community.  I would hear people say, Revive Church is here to help us get momentum.  So, our small, new church started meeting in a high school with key DNA-makers joining us on mission. 


Now, don’t misunderstand – we are a Jesus-focused church, not a social service agency.  Our first Easter we had 12 baptisms, started small groups in homes, focused on kids and sharing the hope of Jesus with them.  However, we also felt that Jesus in action in the neighborhood was why uniquely we were led to this place and in this time. Fast forwarding a bit, we bought a building next to the school to have a permanent spot that would help us be seen as “there for the long haul” (which matters!).  We have grown to 200 people, had 59 baptisms, integrated into the school district, the Chamber of Commerce, the Social Service arena, the Police Department, Habitat for Humanity, and many local businesses – known to be the “Jesus People” on the block.  Our name – Revive Church – came from the neighborhood revitalization and our tagline of “Bringing New Life To the Neighborhood” was inspired by John 11 – Jesus brings his friend Lazarus back to life and He instructs his followers to take off his grave clothes and remind him of this freedom. 

Simply put, Jesus brings the new life and we participate.  I want to thank Stadia for their part in our journey.  They made it seem possible and took so much detail work off my plate so I could be a missionary here and now.  They invited me into a larger network, so my head didn’t get too buried in the weeds of the issues and instilled in me the feeling that the Church wins! Stadia taught me that we are better together, never focused on one group or method, but listening to what God is doing across our world.  Overall Stadia allowed me and our team to have freedom enough to play out what God was and is doing in us for the community we call home.  THANK YOU, Stadia!

Revive is a Jesus focused neighborhood church that officially launched in 2015 inside Van Horn High School.  In 2017 we purchased a building across the street from the high school and serve the neighborhood from that permanent location.  I grew up in Wichita Kansas, playing drums and guitar, restoring old cars and working at my family’s farm supply store.  I was a youth pastor in Wichita for seven years and a church planting resident in KC for one year before moving to Independence in 2014 to help start Revive Church.

Alex Gilpin

Lead Pastor, Revive Church - Independence, Missouri