New church meeting people where needs are high and the willingness to let God in is higher
Pastor & writer
Church planting & multiplication
Jim and Ina Smith often see Pikes Peak as they drive around Colorado Springs, yet their wonder never ceases as they behold the immense, beautiful mountain.
But God has created another landmark in their lives, an even more stirring sight: Grace Mountain Church, a new congregation on the city’s south side, launched September 17.
“It’s located in an area of Colorado Springs which desperately needs the gospel,” Jim Smith said.
Other parts of Colorado Springs get most of the new businesses, growth and churches. But the Lord formed Grace Mountain Church to show he didn’t forget this community’s needs and desires.
The Smiths have been part of the community since 1971. They raised their children in this part of the city. After many years of ministry in Cameroon, they returned to the city of 500,000. They’re so glad for a new church in a place they’ve known for a long time.
“We’re totally happy and delighted,” Ina Smith said. “I really believe [Grace Mountain] was an answer to prayer.”
She and others had been praying for a year for God to do something to bring new, vital ministry into the area. There were ups and downs and challenges, but God made it all come together.
“It’s far more than we could have even imagined,” Ina Smith added.
Pipe organs, puppets and Swahili praise choirs break the mold
David Nickodemus pastors Grace Mountain Church. He, too, has been amazed by God’s activity and the people’s love for God. The core team of the new church partnered with a Swahili congregation to create a multiethnic worship service during the Christmas season.
An 87-year-old who built the church’s pipe organ with his own hands played two songs. Then, a choir of Swahili speakers sang, danced and praised God excitedly and enthusiastically. Then, Nickodemus did a puppet show version of The Crippled Lamb, a Max Lucado story.
Nickodemus was a church planter with a congregation but no building. Another Converge Rocky Mountain congregation had a building but no pastor. Out of their prayerful partnership has come Grace Mountain Church.
“God’s put this all together,” Nickodemus said of the church’s life together. “We’re really breaking the mold here. It just feels like God wasn’t done yet.”
Life here is often defined by real trouble or religious tradition
Many challenges exist for Grace Mountain’s neighbors to know Christ as lord. People are struggling with drug abuse and addiction. Nickodemus said most of the community is unchurched people.
Three months ago, God again showed the power and purpose of fellowship and hope in the local church. A man, his face and neck covered in tattoos, walked in with his two children.
This man had just finished a prison sentence and only wanted two things: to be reunited with his family and to visit a church. When worship ended, Nickodemus said he looked over to see a line of people warmly thanking the man and his children for coming.
“We’re able to meet people where the needs are high, and the willingness to let God and Jesus in is much higher,” Nickodemus said.
Many neighborhood residents seldom connect with God or believers in authentic, transformative relationships, even if they say they have a church. They think worship is just a tradition, something you do once or twice a year.
Jury duty reveals the hurts and holes in a place
Nickodemus was assigned jury duty a few years ago. He heard about particular crimes related to offenses committed in the city’s south side. He didn’t imagine then that God was orchestrating a new ministry for the church planter.
“We just don’t know what people are experiencing when they show up,” he said. “We don’t know how God’s going to use just where we are just when people see our building and a see a sign saying ‘welcome.’”
Clarity has come for the new church’s mission
What the core team of Grace Mountain does know forms a deep conviction in their hearts. They exist, Nickodemus explained, to serve kids and adults through worship and generational groups so people have fellowship and grow in their faith.
“We’ve been very intentional about what we want to do: equip people to bring the hope of Christ,” he said.
In Colorado Springs, some areas are seeing new homes built and businesses open, especially as Californians move, with In-N-Out restaurants and new churches not far behind. But God has kindly opened Grace Mountain Church, his choice for a part of town where drug addiction, crime and gang activity ruin some lives.
Other families in the same community experience a stable life, but one without Christ
They have religious traditions or histories, but not the joy of the Lord through a strong, present faith.
“There hasn’t been a lot of churches started in the last 30 to 40 years,” he noted. “There’s not a lot of churches in the area where we are.”
Many more people near the new church are learning English as their second language and adjusting to a new culture in America. It’s a tremendous opportunity for a new church, one of the best ways for more people to meet, know and follow Jesus.
“That neighborhood needs a church,” Nickodemus said. “It needs people who show the love of Jesus in all they do.”
Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.