By Warren Bird, Leadership Network, 6/30/15.
The Heritage Square campus in Golden, CO, was once an old, rundown amusement park that now hosts thousands of people in more than four services each week.
Instead of sinking huge dollar amounts into a new facility for their rapidly expanding church, Shawn Johnson and his leadership team bucked conventional wisdom and battled their own egos to turn two unusual sites into what became, somewhat to their surprise, launching pads for even faster growth.
“There aren’t many people who can say they meet in a creepy theme park and a rundown dinner theater—but that’s us,” Shawn says of the Denver-metro-based Red Rocks Church. “We’re even looking for a third junky place no one else would want so we can reach even more people.”
As a church of 3,000 attenders in 2011, which had started with 6 people just 6 years previously, Shawn and his team were heading full-steam into planning a building project. “We were out of chairs, we were doing multiple services,” Shawn says. “Isn’t that what you do when you have lots of people and you’re out of room—raise millions of dollars and build a new facility?”
A Little Help from His Friends
Shawn posed his plan to the 35 senior leaders who were part of a Leadership Network-facilitated Rapid Growth Churches Leadership Community; and to a person, they advised him to find another way.
“All of them owned property,” says Shawn. “But all of those pastors said unanimously, ‘If we could go back in time and put ourselves in your position, we would not commission a multi-million dollar building and put ourselves in that kind of debt.’
“They told us we didn’t need a new building to reach more people. Instead they urged me, ‘Go find another creepy facility, use that and stay cheap.’ ” (Hear Shawn tell the story himself )