Tonya and felt called to church planting in 2001. In 2005, we started a new church in San Diego. We began in the living of our home, with padded chairs in a circle. Later we moved to an industrial park. It was an exciting time of seeing people find their way back to God.
In 2008, we began a conversation with the leadership of a church in South Denver. In 2009, we moved our family to Highlands Ranch because we believed in the vision of this church:
Mountainview will impact South Denver and beyond by fostering a movement to start healthy 3G campuses and churches.
From its very beginning, the church has always been called to advance and multiply.
The New Testament book of Acts is a continuation of Gospel of Luke. It was written by the same person to the same person (a fellow named Theophilus = lover of God).
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. – Acts 1:1-2
The four Gospels tell the story of Jesus. Acts tells the story of the church. The Gospels tell what Jesus began to do and teach; this would be continued by the church.
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:3-6
While Jesus was on earth, the disciples had experienced the Holy Spirit through the presence of Jesus. After Pentecost, they would experience Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. – Acts 1:6
Although Jesus had been teaching them for the last 40 days about the Kingdom of God, they still didn’t understand. In their mind, the kingdom was a place – something you could see on a map. For Jesus, the Kingdom of God is where God rules in the lives of his people.
Expanding the Kingdom of God is not about redrawing boundaries or borders. IT IS ABOUT expanding God’s influence.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Jesus promised the disciples two things: power and witness. In the original language, the future tense also has an imperative sense. It’s not that they will receive power – they must receive power. They must be witnesses. And that is what they did!
The early church went from 120 members to ten million in one century.
But these promises come with a warning: Do not try this on your own. The mission and vision of the church requires supernatural assistance.
We still live in an Acts 1:8 world, only we’re not in a Jerusalem neighborhood and Pueblo isn’t quite the same as Samaria (it’s close).
Our Jerusalem is where we live. It’s South Denver. It’s communities like Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Centennial, Lone Tree, Parker, Castle Pines, and Roxborough. It’s your neighborhood.
Our Judea and Samaria are those regions close to home but more than a five-minute drive. For Mountainview, that would be Denver Metro and Colorado as a whole.
When Jesus spoke of the “ends of the earth,” he wasn’t advocating for a flat earth. He was reminding us that the gospel is for people both near AND far away. In a day and age when the disciples might never travel more than 100 miles from home, the “ends of the earth” weren’t that far away. For Mountainview, it is places such as Ukraine, North Africa, the Middle East, Nepal, and Jamaica.
Increasingly, the “ends of the earth” are coming to us. 22 million internationals visit the US each year. 630,000 are university students, many from countries that prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home.
The world is coming to us and we must be ready.
But I believe we have a primary responsibility to impact our Jerusalem – our part of South Denver. God has placed us here for a purpose.
Dr. Oswald J. Smith once said, “The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home.”
According to Tim Keller, studies indicate that if there is 1 church per 10,000 residents, about 1% of the population will attend church. If that number climbs to 1 per 1000, 15-20% will attend church. If it reaches 1 per 500, over 40% of the population will attend church.
Since 2010, Mountainview has helped start 6 churches. These range from Castle Rock to Loveland, covering a lot of ground in between.
Closer to home … 350,000 people live within 7 miles of Mountainview. We would need 350 churches to serve 15-20% of the population. To break that down even further, Highlands Ranch accounts for one-third of the population in that radius (100,000 people) and only has 17 churches!
The mMost common objections to starting new churches are:
- “We already have plenty of churches that have lots of room for all the new people who have come to the area.”
- “A new church will just take people from churches that are already hurting and will weaken everyone.”
Adding more churches when attendance is already declining might seem counter-intuitive. A study of 600 Southern Baptist churches showed that after planting a new church, attendance grew by 21.5% for at least five years.
Here’s why: Professor Jeff Farmer studied 75 churches of different sizes that were starting churches and compared them with 75 that were not. The churches that were planting churches were healthier than those that did not. But this is the important finding: It wasn’t that healthy churches were more likely to start new churches. Starting new churches is what made the mother church healthier.
What does this mean for Mountainview?
Some of you know how to start and build teams, organizations, and businesses. Those are the very skills we will need to start new churches that reach new people.
I long for the day when 50-100 Mountainview members will help start a new church or campus in Lone Tree or Roxborough.