A Heart For Commerce City

Prayer Station #2Good News Community Church has a heart to reach people apart from God in North Denver.  With a mission to “be and make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God, love others, and serve the world.”

Their multi-campus ministry focuses primarily on impacting Broomfield and Commerce City.  Lead Pastor Matthew Fite and Commerce City Campus Pastor Ryan Whitson lead a community of owners of a God shaped and sized vision to reach their communities.

The church owns property at 104th and Blackhawk which is a prime spot for reaching northern Commerce City.  Recently they placed a cross, seats, and a set of solar lights on the Commerce City land.

On Sunday, June 5th the Commerce campus had service out on the land – it was a special day!

They spent the morning praying for the city of Commerce, for the future of the church, and for God to use them as a vehicle for thousands of men, women, boys, and girls to come to know Jesus as Lord and savior… in Commerce and across north Denver.

It was a good day!

Why have we grown?

cothlogo11Recently, we have enjoyed a period of growth.  Twelve people have joined our church since the first of the year, ranging in ages from 10 – 65 years old, and four more are considering joining.

For our small church this has resulted in a 10% growth in membership and a 9% growth in attendance.  Plus, this Sunday we will be baptizing a young woman in our worship service.

A couple of months ago, two young men accepted the Lord Jesus downstairs in our Sunday School while their grandmother upstairs in worship rededicated her life!  Obviously the Holy Spirit was working on both floors that day.   Last Summer we baptized a family of four who are mostly new to the faith.

Why have we been experiencing this growth?  I can’t really say except we are being faithful to our vision of being living messengers for Jesus who share God’s love with others in all of our ministries.

A little over a year ago when we changed the name of the church, we had two prayers and goals in mind:  1. We desired to attract non-believers to our church. 2. We desired to attract believers who had recently moved into our community.

God has certainly honored both those requests in these new members.  I am pleased God has blessed our focus on vision and outreach.

Pastor Mike Lundberg,
Church on the Hill,
Montrose Colorado.

One Day Conference 2016

CatalystOn Tuesday, August 16, One Day Conference: The View From Here will be in Denver, Colorado from 8:30-4:30.

Two key questions remain at the forefront of every leader’s mind: Where have we come from? Where are we going?

After recently celebrating their 20-year anniversaries in ministry, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel are sharing The View from Here by reflecting on the leadership lessons that have brought them to where they are today and looking ahead to the future of the Church with excitement and anticipation.

One Day is a can’t-miss opportunity to unpack the nuts and bolts of leadership with the two principal voices in leadership today. Catalyst One Day is a different type of Catalyst event that is designed to focus on answering the practical how-to and what-about questions we just aren’t able to cover at a larger event.

Learn from two of the most effective voices in organizational leadership today, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, as they share the lessons they have learned in growing their ministries and developing as leaders over the past 20 years.

The conference will be at:

Cherry Hills Community Church
3900 Grace Blvd
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126

Conference Schedule

August 16, 2016
7:30 am  – Registration
8:30 am – Session 1
10:00 am – Break
10:30 am – Session 2
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – Session 3
3:00 pm – Break
3:30 pm – Session 4
4:30 pm – End of Day

Register with RMCN to get the group rate of $89 per person by filling out THIS FORM and mailing it along with your check to:
RMCN
3686 Stagecoach Rd Unit E
Longmont CO 80504
Or if you want to pay by credit card use the following link:





If you have any questions, please call 303-772-1205 or email Assistant@rmcn.org.

A Letter to the RMCN Family

Dear Rocky Mountain Church Network Family:   As chairman of the RMCN board I’m writing this letter on behalf of our Regional Executive Director, Stan Rieb, and the RMCN.   The RMCN supports regional churches in many ways.  The RMCN vision is: We envision a network of vibrant churches empowered by God and mobilized by passionate spiritual leaders, living out the gospel by serving their communities and making disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

Thus RMCN provides guidance and resources for pastoral searches, assessments for churches, ministry mapping, coaching for pastors, leadership learning communities, counseling and resources for struggling churches and pastors, and organizes the occasional regional leadership retreat for pastors, staff and their wives.

All of this boils down to one goal: to produce healthy and vibrant pastors and churches.  Stan is at the center facilitating the mission and has made great progress this past year in contacting and encouraging member churches.

My church has been the recipient of Stan’s expertise and is now experiencing growth in several areas for the first time in four years.   In our meeting last week, however, Stan informed me that we had to dip into our investments.  As a board we knew this day was coming but feel fortunate to have reserves to draw on.

So as a member church, I am asking you to consider a one-time financial gift, increase your current financial commitment or placing RMCN on your missions and outreach budget.  As you invest in RMCN, you are investing in God’s kingdom work in our region.     Please keep Stan and RMCN in your prayers.  May God richly bless you as you seek to make disciples through sharing and living out the gospel.

Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Mike Lundberg
Chairman of the RMCN Board
Senior Pastor of Church on the Hill, Montrose, Colorado

 

 

Changing Your Church’s Name

Over the last few weeks, I have been asked a couple of times about churches changing their names, specifically removing “Baptist” from their name. Many churches are doing this and I believe that the trend will continue for some of the reasons that I will share. From the personal experience of having led a name change, I can tell you that a wise pastor treads these waters carefully and intentionally. Let me give you several areas to consider when it comes to processing this discussion.

Cultural Denominational Disconnect

Early American immigration history is at the heart of the vast denominational diversity in America. A denominational identity helped people connect with their cultural religious identity. Even 30 years ago many rural communities’ dominant denominational representation was reflective of the immigrant migrations of the late 1800’s and 1900’s. Northeastern Kansas, where my family settled as immigrants, was predominantly Lutheran because it was a center of the German immigrant communities. After WWII and perhaps even before that, America was losing that European nationalism with the homogenization of our culture.

Add to this the secularization of the American culture over the last 30 to 50 years. Our post-Christian culture has produced an ever increasing number of people who have no religious, let alone denominational, identity. For many past generations there was at least distant relationship with the church, if nothing else as the place where weddings and funerals took place. Even that is now waning in our culture.

In The Rise of the Nones, James Emery White notes that those who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation are increasing at a surprising rate. The Pew Research Center notes, “In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults.”

Because of this ongoing disconnect from the church, a non-religious individual’s understanding of the church and denominational branding has been formed by the media rather than by experiential knowledge. We know that the media, in general, does not paint a positive picture of the church. Baptist, along with many other denominational identifiers like Assembly of God and to a lesser degree Evangelical Free Church, are defined or judged by the unchurched by this media bias. Baptists are perceived by many in the public spectrum in a very negative framework, thus at times invoking a barrier to connecting with them.

Guilt by Association

For me the impetus to CONTEMPLATE DROPPING “Baptist” from the name of the church I was pastoring was the protesting by the Westboro Baptist church at the Matthew Shepard murder trials and their protesting at the funerals of military personal who were killed in the line of duty. People in our community made it clear that they understood that since they were Baptist and we were Baptist we must have been supportive of what they were doing.

One would need to assess the community’s perception of your church’s identity, part of which is your denominational connection, if that is part of your branding. This is not an easy task as many of the people in our church are insulated from the unchurched in the community.

Again, as we continue to generationally distance ourselves from the perceived American Christian culture from years past (each generation being increasingly identified as nones), our unchurched culture has an increasing deficit of understanding of the denominational distinctions. Even more important is their lumping all “Christian” faith groups together. For the unchurched there is little or no difference between any denomination, let alone those we in the church would identify as a cult. Their only perception is that some denominations are more negative or judgmental toward those who are not part of their group. 

Missional Focus

Most new church plants do not communicate a denominational identity. Tom Rainer notes that Newer churches are consistently using descriptors in their names other than denominational affiliation. Some are focusing on their location. Others are at least implying a distinctive doctrinal leaning. And still others are using more trendy and less common terms.”

New churches understand that evangelism and growth are essential to the life (ongoing existence) of the church. As one church planter noted, “It is really only churched people who are looking for a specific denomination’s name and researching what a church believes when deciding whether or not to visit. Our church isn’t targeting churched people at all. I can’t tell you how many of our friends came to our church because of a relationship they had with us or someone else and found out only at our membership class that we are affiliated with a denomination.”

One of the reasons that church plants avoid denominational, or even traditional terminology, is that they want to create open doors of gospel opportunity. They understand that the branding of their ministries which includes their name, social network or media presence, facilities and other things are doors of relational opportunity to fulfill their Great Commission mission.

Paul noted this missional strategy in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “… To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” He understood there were individuals that were in the sphere of his missional influence and he did whatever he could to remove any barriers to his being able to communicate the gospel to them. He declared his missionary identity in the missional strategy.

In the ministry where we changed the church’s name we did so because even though we were reaching people across denominational heritages, there were still those in the community for whom the name Baptist was an insurmountable hurdle. Our people were not willing to allow a word in our name to be a stumbling stone to the people in the community knowing Jesus. It was not easy to part with their First Baptist Church name. The name was full of fond memories and had a deep rich meaning to many, but there was a greater good to be had in giving that up, removing any barrier to people coming to faith in Christ.

How do you prepare a church that is deeply vested in a name for this type of change?

First of all mission and vison should drive the conversation. Mission relates to purpose and the purpose of the church is a relationally redemptive purpose. Vision goes to painting a picture of what it will look like when we are living out our purpose in our community. A well-crafted and communicated vision of what can be will always make what is unacceptable, a motivation for change. Leverage the influence of the board as vision communicators. If they cannot be excited about the vision, how can you expect the congregation to be supportive?

Secondly, when possible, celebrate the past as the reflection of the outward focused mission and vision. In most cases you can point to times in a church’s past where they stepped out in faith to be obedient to a Great Commission, Great Commandment purpose. Point the congregation to changes that they have made in the past that have brought about good results.

Give people time. I love the quote from Resilient Ministry regarding leadership. Harvard professors Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky have summarized that “exercising leadership might be understood as disappointing people at a rate they can absorb.” Wise leaders will bring people along, they will have thought through an intentional strategy. Introduce it as an idea that leadership is considering. Have multiple meetings where the leadership puts it on the table to have people express their thoughts and feelings. With that validate people’s apprehensions and feelings; often times people need the opportunity to express themselves before they can consider the value of the proposed change.

Reasons To Believe

Reason's to Believe (Cover Wrap)

 

Why would a good God allow suffering?

Is it reasonable to believe God exists?

Has science disproven God?

 

Questions like these can pique curiosities, stimulate thinking, and challenge faith in God. Reasons to Believe, a new book by RMCN pastor Ryan Whitson (along with six other authors), provides thoughtful, easy-to-understand responses in one concise resource. The book, endorsed by Christian scholars such as J.P. Moreland, Joe Stowell, and Doug Groothuis, takes on ten pressing questions about God, the Bible, and the Christian faith in order to help remove doubts, deepen Christian conviction, and provide compelling reasons to believe.

 

For RMCN churches this book can be a tremendous resource for small groups or classes, material for a sermon series, or a gift for your teachers, volunteers and staff who may face difficult questions in their ministry setting. For a free sample of the book click here (hyperlink- see below). To learn more about how this book can be a strategic resource for you and your church or to receive free chapters and other material feel free contact Ryan at R.Whitson@GoodNewsChurch.org.

 

Hyperlink: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019D70H3K?keywords=ryan%20whitson&qid=1454545427&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

Why We Cancelled Christmas Eve Services

Matthew Fite2For years we’ve done a Christmas Eve service… in fact, we’ve generally done multiple Christmas Eve services, trying to meet the needs of busy people with full schedules.

And every year we’ve encouraged our people to invite their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who aren’t Christians. We gave them invite cards and yard signs to help in their efforts. And every year people invited the non-Christians they knew.

But every year I got the same sad report back, “I invited my co-worker, but he and his family are going to grandma’s house on Christmas Eve.” Or “I invited my neighbors, but they can’t come because they always do a big Christmas dinner and open gifts with the in-laws on Christmas Eve.” Sure, plenty of people have been coming to our Christmas Eve services all these years, but by in large it’s just been Christians.

It turns out that non-Christians are really busy on Christmas Eve and are unwilling to change their plans, even when someone invites them to a Christmas Eve service on December 24th. So this year we cancelled the Christmas Eve services and did a “Christmas Celebration” on December 23rd.

When we first started talking with the congregation about this idea, some were very disappointed (that’s a nice way of saying mad and upset). So we talked with the congregation about how this was an opportunity for us to meet the needs of the community. We talked about how we needed to put our preferences aside in order to introduce people to Jesus. We talked about how we needed to follow Jesus’ example when he said, “I have not come to be served, but to serve, and to lay down my life as a ransom for many.

The mumbling died down pretty quickly. People picked up small stacks of invite cards and took home a yard sign that said, “Christmas Celebration on December 23rd.” And I began to wonder if this was just another one of my stupid ideas (and I’ve had plenty) or if it really was inspired by God.

The first story I got back was from a woman who has probably never actively told anyone about God, but she was willing to put a yard sign in front of her house. She said that she had multiple conversations with neighbors who all told her that her Christmas Eve sign had the wrong date on it… It should say December 24th. This became her opportunity to invite each of them to the Christmas Celebration on the 23rd.

I shared her story with the congregation and told them all “thank you for being willing to try this big experiment for your neighbors and for everyone you’re going to invite.” The excitement grew… the stories kept rolling in… we ran out of invitation cards.

Finally the 23rd came and we did all the same stuff you do at a Christmas Eve service: sing Christmas Carols, tell the Christmas story, share the gospel, light candles, and all that good stuff. It was a beautiful service.

The Commerce City campus had 149 people… we ran out of chairs (that’s 50% larger than a normal Sunday and it was the largest service that campus has ever had)! The Broomfield campus had 235 people… again we ran out of chairs, plus ran out of parking spots (again, that’s almost 50% larger than a normal Sunday and people had to stand out in the lobby)!

And the best part was that we identified over 50 first-time guests who were not just visitors from out of town, but actually folks from our community who don’t yet know Jesus. We’re now in the process of following up with each of them, building relationships, and encouraging them to take their next steps towards a relationship with God.

Bottom line, doing the Christmas Celebration service on the 23rd was a huge, huge success!

 

     Matthew Fite is Lead Pastor at GoodNewsChurch.org

 

Christmas Gift from the RMCN

Leaders BookThe Rocky Mountain Church Network greatly values pastors and church leaders. Their roles are crucial to church health, ministry effectiveness and Kingdom advancement; all of which bring glory to God. This is one reason for our investment in the Pastor Clusters, Learning Communities and Ministry Retreats.

President Harry Truman once said “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” We also believe that effective leaders are lifelong learners, but the pressures of ministry often leave insufficient time to read, learn and grow.

As we move into 2016, we would like to share with those in Pastor Clusters, Learning Communities and supporting churches, a Christmas gift of one one-year subscription to the Leaders Book Summaries.

Leaders Book Summaries brings you summaries of the best books on leadership, management, and church life to help you become the best leader you can be.

  • 30 new books each year
  • Clear & concise 12-15 page book summaries
  • 2-page super-summary of each book
  • Perspectives from veteran church leaders
  • Christian and secular authors

This is a $119 value. Additionally when you let us know that you accept this Christmas gift we will send you a memory clip with the entire Archived Library of book summaries – that is over 160 book summaries. Contact our office at Assistant@rmcn.org or 303-772-5655 if you are interested in receiving your gift of the Leaders Book Summaries.

 

The Great Christmas Light Fight

Christmas LightsLights are a popular Christmas celebration component. No doubt the majority of Americans, if not everyone regardless of nationality, will have some connection to lights in the celebration of Christmas. Heidi and I have been amazed at the innovative use of lights in ABC’s, The Great Christmas Light Fight. If you have not seen this show over the last couple of weeks, individuals and entire neighborhoods create program driven light shows as expressions of their Christmas spirit in hopes of being declared the winner and winning significant financial prizes.

There were a few years that I attempted to see how many lights I could place on our Christmas tree. I believe that one year I placed 1500 lights on a 7’ tree. When turned on, our living room glowed and you needed to wear sunglasses to watch TV.

Although it seems that the connection is often lost to our consumer-driven holiday culture, the lights should remind us that Jesus’ incarnation was the introduction of light into the darkness of the world.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jn 8:12 (ESV)

Jesus is THE light of the WORLD. Like so many other things in life that we take for granted, light is often assumed. For most of us a world without light is difficult to imagine. I don’t think we can begin to comprehend how much our current lives have been influenced by Jesus Christ and others who have lived in the influence of His light. Science, education, health care and in general, all social order bear evidence of the light of Jesus shining through the lives of those who have followed Him.

Knowing Jesus changes life. Jesus said of his followers:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV)

How will you and your church take on the Great Christmas Light Fight? How will you choose to adorn your lives with the light of He who is the Light of the world so that others might give glory to your Father?

We would love to hear how you or your church have chosen to let your light shine before others during this Christmas season.