by Rick Pidcock
This past month, we celebrated our first anniversary as NorthField Church. This first year has been filled with stories of God’s grace and provision in the life of our church.
On September 18, 2005, NorthField Church officially launched in the Stapleton redevelopment community of Denver, CO. Throughout this past year, God has brought over 200 people to us. Of course, not all of them have stayed. But everyone of them was shown the supremacy of God through gospel-centered ministry.
On any given Sunday, we will see around 60-90 people show up. There are about thirty faithful members who show up almost every week. And then the rest cycle in about once or twice a month. We also typically see about a half dozen visitors each week.
The makeup of our church is very diverse. There are a few strong individuals, couples, and families. But for the most part, our people are seekers. We have former Catholics, Episcopalians, Unitarians, Charismatics, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Seeker-sensitive, current atheists, and just about everything else that you can imagine. Many of them have not been to church since they were children. But now that they have children, they want to raise them to have good morals. We also have some good diversity in social class, race, and age.
The one thing that each of them have in common, however, is a desire for something more. Most of them recognize the shallowness of much of their backgrounds. Most are coming to NorthField Church because they realize that there must be more to life than ungrounded emotionalism or unending rules. That feeling of dissatisfaction with religion that is not gospel-centered is exactly why we should strive to be gospel-centered. The gospel is what distinguishes true Christianity from everything else.
In our pursuit of the gospel, we have been able to begin a number of different ministries over the past year. On Sunday mornings, we hold our time of corporate worship from 9:45 to 11:00. During the corporate worship time, everyone except for the infants are together in the cafeteria. Then, during the sermon, we have the children split into two different classes so that we can disciple them more effectively in their age group.
We began our Sunday mornings with a series of sermons on our purpose statement and our church values. Then we went through a series on what the gospel is. After that, we went through another topical series on how the supremacy of God transforms every area of our lives. This summer, we did a series on The Da Vinci Code. This series was very helpful to those of us who disagreed with the book, but did not know why. We took it as an opportunity not to sit and stew about the book, but rather to answer the questions raised in the book with the gospel. And now we are beginning our first expository series through a book, the book of Genesis.
Sunday nights hold our first small group of the week for Stapleton. They began studying a series on the gospel, then they read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” then went more deep into the Sunday sermons, and are now reading Josh Harris’s new book “Stop Dating the Church.”
On Tuesday nights, we hold our Green Valley Ranch small group, about fifteen minutes away from Stapleton. This is the one that Ruth Ellen and I help lead. We began with a Tim Keller series on the gospel, then went through a 36 lesson workbook called “Gospel Transformation,” then went through John Piper’s “Desiring God,” and are now reading Josh Harris’s “Stop Dating the Church.”
We have also just begun our first singles group on Tuesday nights a couple of weeks ago. We usually have about 10-20 state college students each Sunday morning, as well as a dozen other singles throughout the church. So this will be a great opportunity for friendship and accountability for them. They are going through the 36 lesson workbook that we did for our other small group called, “Gospel Transformation.”
Wednesday nights are our gender-specific small groups. The ladies meet on the first and third Wednesday evenings in Stapleton at 7:00. They are currently going through a book called “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhan. It basically tries to explain how guys think. The men are meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings. And we are going through 1 Timothy.
On Thursday evenings, the worship team meets at our house for rehearsal. We begin with a time of prayer, a short devotional on some aspect of worship, introducing the theme and songs, and finally, practicing through the songs for each Sunday as well as practicing new songs for the near future.
The worship team is really growing. At our first annual worship evaluation and growth meeting, we saw twelve people interested in being a part of the worship team. Over this past year, a number of people have been interested in helping out with the worship. Some of them have left because they thnk that we are either too contemporary or too conservative. But God has given us nine faithful members, as well as a number of new possibilities for this next year.
On Friday evenings, we have a couple once a month opportunities. Once a month, the women get together for a craft night. And the next Friday evening, we get together to watch a movie and to discuss it in light of the gospel. This has been an effective way of helping us to grow in connecting the gospel to such areas of our lives as entertainment. I always post the reviews of the movies on my blog. So feel free to click on the movie reviews link on the right.
The guys also get together twice a month on Saturday mornings. The first Saturday, we get together at a local IHOP or a bagel shop for breakfast. Then the next Saturday, we get together to discuss a theological book.
So as you can see, we definitely have alot of activities going on. But our prayer is that these activities would be more than mere social activities, but also opportunities for relationship building and disciple-making. Relationship-based ministry is the most effective way to reach the community of Stapleton. Most of the people who come did not hear about us through our advertising, but through a friend, co-worker, fellow student, or neighbor. So we are constantly looking for ways to build these relationships.
For instance, every Sunday morning, we announce a local Stapleton restaurant that a group of church people will be going to for lunch. We also get together for the Broncos games at Matt and Amy’s house during football season sometimes. Those who work downtown meet together once a month for lunch on Wednesdays. We have attended Denver Nugget, Colorado Rockies, and yes, even Denver Broncos games together. There are a number of other relationship-building opportunities as well including cooking nights for the ladies, and X-box parties for the guys.
We are also excited about taking on our first two missionaries. Kalan, one of our college students just left for a year long missions trip to Russia. And Kelsey Jenks is a church member who faithfully lives and serves at a Christ-centered addiction recovery home for women called “Esther House.”
This past summer we also had our first Fine Arts Camp for the children of Stapleton. The college class from our sending church in South Carolina came out to help us. And we had an average of about 30-35 children each day.
Over this next year, we are going to be pursuing some much needed steps as a new church. We will begin offering some deeper theological training. And we will also begin holding classes for potential members, as well as begin leadership training.
It is easy at times of celebration like this to brag about all that we have done. And yet, it is important to lay our crowns at the feet of Christ because He is the One who is building the church. It is foolish of us to say that we are gospel-centered, but only speak of ourselves.
NorthField Church is not where it is today because of anything we have done. In fact, local pastors told us that we should never consider starting a church in Stapleton until we had $100,000 in the bank and 1oo core group members. They have told us that we would never get anybody to come because we are too conservative theologically, and too traditional in our worship. But God has been working in the hearts of people to draw them to what is going on here.
One member of our worship team told me that he and his wife were interested in joining NorthField Church. But they just were not sure. Then, one Sunday, his unbelieving parents visited with them. He told me that his dad, who always gets irritated whenever they mention the idea of church, said to him, “There is something different about that church. There is something going on there.” He told me that he felt that his dad was a totally different person. He had never heard his dad talk like that about any church. What he noticed had nothing to do with a special secret that we have discovered. But it is proof that God is at work in the hearts of people through the gospel.
Please pray for us as we pursue Christ over this next year of ministry. These are exciting times. But they are potentially self-centered times. Pray that God will give us wisdom and joy through these next big steps in the life of a new church. And also, please consider supporting us either through your finances, short visit, or permanent presence.
Some of my friends have said, “I would love to move out there and help you guys out. But it seems like you already have everything filled.” And quite honestly, I laugh whenever I hear that. Sure, we have alot going on. But there are only about ten people who are doing all of the organizational work for everything. And even though none of us are burnt out, we are being stretched. There are ministries we would love to add, such as pursuing more youth, organizing a missions trip, doing community projects, etc. But we just do not have any more time available for any of us to put into it. Many weeks, we are busy five evenings a week trying to help minister to our church. And on the off-nights, we are getting ready for the other nights. So we would absolutely love for others to move out here and help us.
Thank you so much to each of you who have prayed for and supported us over the past year. We miss all of you and are looking forward to the day when we are all reunited once again. Only next time, there will be no more goodbyes as we worship Christ together for all eternity. Please let us know how you are doing.