Red Rocks Church began with in the unlikeliest of places—the back of a remote, run-down theme park in Golden, Colorado.
Our first service in January 2005 witnessed just over 100 people at Heritage Square. The group was diverse: Attendees included our family members, inquisitive local pastors, and a group of young men invited from a downtown loft party. We even hosted curious members of the Denver Nuggets dance team.
All were nervous in the unusual setting. More than a few questioned our little church’s plan.
But everyone was exactly where God wanted us. The gospel of our loving Jesus was shared, and lives were changed in an instant. God was the proven leader of Red Rocks Church, and all people were to be welcomed and invited from then on.
Our church moved forward.
Services were added, and within two years, we outgrew our theme park space. For a year, we met in Belmar and reached more than 2,000 people on Sundays. Production crews arrived at 4 a.m. each week to set up the shared auditorium for church.
When we were forced to find a new home base in 2008, God provided again, and in a familiar location. Heritage Square leased us a large warehouse in the back of its park. When the announcement nervously was shared with the congregation about moving back to the “creepy theme park,” cheers abounded and volunteers stepped up to make their new church home welcoming to all.
The once-desolate parking lots were jammed each weekend and walls were torn down to add more room. We needed more space.
At a conference, our directors were told about the possibility of a multi-site church. The concept avoided the need for building a huge building for millions of dollars, and offered the opportunity to reach more people in new locations. They were sold.
Our second location launched Easter weekend 2012 in pure Red Rocks style: A neglected dinner theater in Littleton, Colorado would serve hundreds each weekend.
God’s people came – Red Rocks Church was approaching 6,000 attendees. The opportunities for us were growing, too.
Following the same multi-site model, we started a campus at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility with the prison-focused outside ministry God Behind Bars. Hundreds of women packed their prison’s gymnasium to watch the same message as other Red Rocks attendees. The walls shook with their voices as they worshipped God. Many were baptized right in the prison. Even more accepted Christ as their Savior.
In late 2014, we were informed that our now cherished Heritage Square lease would not be renewed. Our directors were anxious, and again on the hunt for a new location. A brand new building was out of the question. God made it clear this church was meant to build stories, not buildings.
A for-sale Vietnamese grocery store in Lakewood came to our attention. It contained aisles of food, rows of fish on ice, and even live frogs. The enormous space wasn’t pretty, but it perfect for the church’s ministry needs.
Our “Building Stories” campaign raised the money needed to purchase the building, and a temporary Denver location, nicknamed “Catfish,” served as additional space for us until Lakewood opened its doors in 2014.
That year, God again showed us He was leading the church and was in complete control. Abundant Life Church in Arvada approached us with a large building and a proposal: They would sell the church to Red Rocks if we would help reach the people of Arvada with the gospel.
In September 2015, the Arvada Campus launched to overflowing crowds. Shortly after, a second God Behind Bars campus outside of Colorado Springs opened. In fall 2016, the church went international: The Brussels location opened to an eager crowd of people seeking God in the midst of a dark society.
“Look at what God does!” our lead pastor Shawn Johnson has told the congregation over and over. God always provides when we are faithful.
We thank the entire family of Red Rocks Church who have prayed, sacrificed, served, contributed, and traveled for the sake of making Heaven more crowded. We are truly one heart, one mind, and united in the purpose God has for us.