Updated: Oct 5, 2018
With the help of our pastors and elders, we recognized that the burden in our hearts was a call from God to plant a church (more on that in a later blog) - the only question was "where." I have literally wanted to plant churches every place that I have ever visited - so that wasn't very good criteria.
We spent a lot of our earliest energy trying to find a way to stay close because of our devotion to Grace Covenant Church, love for our leaders, and the fact that we never planned on going anywhere. I suggested that we plant in their parking lot, in the building that the GCC Youth Group used to meet in, or in the city next to us. But staying close didn't resonate in our hearts as a good reason for choosing a city, either.
We needed a better filter, and we settled on the following criteria:
A city that needs a fresh expression of the Gospel (which is every places that was not very helpful).
A city that is strategically important (influential) within the United States.
A city without an Every Nation church or campus ministry.
A city with a large number of college students.
A city where we could establish a culturally and racially diverse church.
A city that is "unchurched".
A city that can serve as a launching pad for new church plants.
We "tried on" a lot of different cities: Annapolis, MD; Pittsburg, PA; Blacksburg, VA; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Saint Louis, MO; and others. But as we prayed through this filter, our hearts regularly returned to Denver. As our hearts kept returning to Denver, we remembered how we tried to convince friends to plant a church in Denver, but it did not resonate in their heart. (Have you ever tried to get someone to do something that was your responsibility? It's a funny feeling.)
As it turns out, Denver meets all of the criteria.
It's a city in need of a fresh expression of the Gospel.
It's a city that does not have an Every Nation Church or Campus Ministry.
Denver is the largest city for 500 miles in any direction and quietly influences a lot of cultural aspects of the United States.
There several colleges and universities including University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, College of Mines and a community college system.
Denver is not the white city that I had imagined. The city is surprisingly diverse with roughly 30% of the population being hispanic and 11% of the population being black.
There are some incredible churches in Denver, but it is still consistently listed as one of the least churched/least Christian cities in the US. Including this list on the Huffington Post. (this huff post list has some problems with how they count Christians, but the point remains).
Boulder and Fort Collins are both within an hour of Denver, which are the homes of University of Denver (Boulder), and Colorado State (Fort Collins), and are ideal places for Every Nation to to go next...
It's further than I ever imagined going, but I'm excited to see what God does as we join in His mission by establishing an outpost of heaven in Denver, CO.