our story

Hope Church came to life as a merger of two Kansas City Northland churches in the summer of 2022. Rick McGinniss founded North Heartland Community Church in 1994, and Jason Davis founded Hope Church KC in January 2019. Both pastors had a mission to create a church that was specifically built to reach people who didn’t know Jesus, were skeptical about faith, or had walked away from church all together. When Rick and Jason met and realized their churches were just five miles apart and deeply like-minded in mission,
God began a work in both pastors and churches that would result in a merger and the creation of Hope Church as we know it today.

looking to the future

In recent years, Rick and the leadership of NHCC began to think and pray about the future and legacy of North Heartland Community Church when Rick retires. With an understanding that his age was making it increasingly difficult for a younger generation to relate to his life experiences, they determined that bringing in a younger teaching pastor to share preaching responsibilities would be a logical next step for NHCC. While this person would not necessarily be the next lead pastor, it was a definite possibility if the "right fit" could be found. The challenge would be finding what Rick called “a needle in a haystack.”

a needle in a haystack

In late 2021, Rick sat down and wrote out everything that was important to him for this role, with nothing left off the table. With a deep passion for NHCC, its mission, and unique culture, it was not lost on him that finding someone who was like-minded would be difficult. After all, North Heartland was designed from its roots to be a church specifically for the unchurched - where churched people would feel comfortable inviting their unchurched friends and family. This is unusual in a culture where most churches are designed around church people, with the hope that the unchurched simply make their way there. It also mattered deeply to Rick that this person would have a heart for the Kansas City Northland, which NHCC is specifically called to reach. As he crafted his outline of specific requirements, he couldn’t help but sense that perhaps there was someone local, someone already living out this mission and who could take on this role… Nonetheless, Rick put out a call for his needle in a haystack, and prayed that God would send the right person.

a like minded pastor

Jason is the pastor of Hope Church KC, a three-year-old church plant just five miles from NHCC. After many years in ministry, he and his wife started Hope Church KC out of a desire to establish a safe place for the unchurched and those who had walked away from church to explore and grow in their faith. They were determined to create a church that would not do anything to make it difficult for people who were coming to know Jesus. Everything about the way they founded Hope Church KC was built on this premise.

In early January 2022, Jason shared privately with his friend the difficulty he’d had finding another pastor with the same heart and mission to connect and share ideas with. Just as Rick was looking for a needle in a haystack, Jason found that meeting like-minded pastors in his network was also challenging. As a younger church planter, his heart’s desire was to find someone who had been there before, who could speak to the distinct challenges of building such a unique church, and help him explore new ways to accomplish the mission of reaching and discipling the unchurched. It was then that Jason’s friend shared a job posting he’d seen online - Rick’s posting, saying “Jason, this is you on paper.”

a common mission

While Jason had no interest in the role that Rick had posted, the unique job description got his attention as it described a church culture that was so rare, yet somehow articulating exactly what they had built at Hope KC. Right away, Jason knew he wanted to meet the pastor who wrote it. Jason and Rick met for lunch, and over hours of conversation, began to discover how similar they were: everything from God calling them away from a secular job into ministry, to their theology, to their deepest desires for a church designed for those who need Jesus most. Even their strategies for accomplishing this mission were nearly identical. Their friendship took root immediately, but more importantly, so did the prompting of the Holy Spirit. They knew that first day that God was up to something… they just didn’t know what.

listening to the lord

Jason and Rick continued to meet and to explore what God might be up to. They brought other leaders into the discussions and continued to talk about their shared mission. They were astonished that their churches, just five miles apart, were so similar in mission and method. All the while, both of them were thinking about their own churches and their needs for the future. Rick was looking toward succession and reaching a younger demographic. Jason was looking toward sustainability and permanence. Both of them were looking to carry this mission into the next generation. Knowing that these churches were not their own, they, alongside their leaders, committed it all to the Lord and asked Him to help them see His plan.

They began to consider what it might look like for these two like-minded churches to join together by following a process outlined by a renowned church merger consultant in the book “Better Together.” This process helped them explore whether joining together under a united, compelling vision would be feasible and whether it would help reach more people who do not know Jesus in our shared community. As Rick Warren says, “Our job as church leaders is to recognize a wave of God’s Spirit and ride it. It is not our responsibility to make waves, but to recognize how God is working and join Him in the endeavor.”

assessing feasibility

What followed was three months filled with many hours of focused prayer, transparent and discerning conversations, the study of successful church merger models, and more prayer. Jason met with NHCC’s staff and Advisory Council; Rick met with Hope’s staff and Elder council. Both churches and their leadership teams completed and unpacked extensive assessments to help them determine compatibility and feasibility. After no stone was left unturned, Rick and Jason, and both of their leadership teams felt confident that God was leading them to propose the merging of North Heartland Community Church and Hope Church KC.

a new merged church

A new, merged Hope Church was established in July 2022. We are excited to expand our capacity to reach our community for Jesus, provide sustainability and momentum, and ensure the legacy of our churches continues into the next generation.