Merger made new facility, expanded ministry possible
By Myra Holmes
The Rock Community Church, a USMB congregation in Littleton, Colorado, celebrated their new facility with a grand opening Jan. 22, 2017. It’s a move toward greater ministry impact that was made possible by a merger nearly two years ago between The Rock of Southwest and Belleview Community Church.
A tool to reach people for Christ
The new 50,000-square-foot building, including an 873-seat sanctuary, is designed to be both real and welcoming, according to Bruce Fosdick, lead pastor, so it features a “warehouse look” with large garage-style doors that open to the Colorado outdoors and polished cement floors.
A 10,000-square-foot children’s wing can accommodate roughly 350 kids per service; currently, The Rock holds services twice on Sundays. The new youth area will also allow for significant growth in ministry. Currently, the church’s youth ministry averages about 85-100 junior high students and similar numbers of high school students; the church hopes that within six months, those numbers will hit 200 students in each.
The congregation held final services in the old building Jan. 8, 2017, and worshiped for the first time in the new facility Jan. 15, 2017. Some 1,850 people attended the Jan. 22 grand opening, and a significant number of those were visitors.
Fosdick hopes the new building will be a tool to reach even more people for Christ. “We don’t want to be the biggest church; we want to have the biggest impact,” he says.
The Rock has a strong emphasis on evangelism, with an ambitious goal of seeing 400 to 600 new decisions for Christ each year. Fosdick fully expects the two baptismal tanks in the front of the sanctuary to get heavy use. They’re off to a strong start: 35 people responded to an altar call at the grand opening services, and many of those will be baptized at the church’s first baptism service Feb. 19.
In addition, The Rock is “a church planting church.” The Rock has mothered four churches since 2006 and partnered in planting several more. Their goal is to plant a church each year, beginning in 2018. The larger facility will allow The Rock to grow and send out more church planting teams. Fosdick says, “We believe this puts us in a position to be the number one church planting church in Colorado.”
Merger made expansion possible
The new facility and increased ministry was made possible by a merger in April 2015 of The Rock of Southwest, a congregation of about 1,100 associated with Converge, a network with Baptist roots, and Belleview Community Church, a USMB congregation of about 120. A new name for the resulting congregation, The Rock Community Church, was unveiled with the new facility.
The Rock and Belleview were located in the same Denver suburb, and Fosdick and Mike Andrews, pastor of Belleview, had known each other for years, meeting from time to time to compare notes and share ideas for reaching their common community.
Belleview was “struggling,” Fosdick says, having recently gone through a split of sorts, but the congregation owned 10 acres of property in a prime location. The Rock, meanwhile, was bursting at the seams of their old building, feeling a need to move in order to facilitate growth. As Fosdick and Andrews talked, they began to wonder if a merger might benefit both. After about a year of prayer, meetings and conversations affirmed the idea, the two congregations became one in April 2015.
Fosdick says the union was “an amazing merger” with very few difficulties. Andrews remains on staff as pastor of spiritual formation and men’s ministry. The small Belleview group brought “pretty outstanding people” who are now deeply involved in ministry at The Rock, while the larger congregation provides a growing church and vision for them to pour into. Together, “we have a really good heart,” Fosdick says.
The resulting congregation is dually affiliated as a member of both Converge and USMB and is active in both. The Rock was officially welcomed into the Southern District Conference (SDC) at their summer 2015 convention, and Fosdick is active on the newly-formed task force for C2C U.S., the church planting network that will be partnering with USMB for church planting efforts in the U.S.
“We’re all in,” Fosdick says.
In November 2016, much of the former Belleview building was razed to make way for the new facility. The gym and classrooms were refurbished, becoming a youth area, children’s wing and office space. An unused chapel area was leveled to make way for a new foyer and worship center.
Fosdick says that being able to use some of the former facility helped save about $6 million on the cost of the project, so that the church was able to build an $18 million facility for about $12 million. The project was funded with help from both Converge and MB Foundation, the stewardship ministry of U.S. Mennonite Brethren.
The Rock’s former building has been sold to a new church. Fosdick says they didn’t want the property to become a gas station or retail center, so they were happy to sell the property to a church for below-market value and see it used for continued ministry.
Fosdick anticipates that by fall, The Rock, already holding two services, might grow to need a third, Saturday-evening service. But he notes that if attendance continues as strong as their grand opening Sunday, that timeline might be moved up to this spring.
Fosdick says that The Rock now includes some who were founding members of Belleview, who express excitement for the ministry potential of The Rock. One, he says, was crying on his shoulder out of joy at the grand opening. Another told him that she wished her husband, a founding member of Belleview, was still alive to see the grand opening. “He had dreamed of a day like this his whole life—that we could reach thousands of people,” she told Fosdick.
Photo 1 provided by Tim Sullivan. According to the church website, since The Rock was re-started in 2000, the congregation has seen an average of 150 to 300 first-time commitments to Christ annually and approximately 120 people baptized every year.
Photos 2-4 provided by The Rock.
Photo 2: When Belleview Community Church merged with The Rock in 2015, a plan was developed to purchase Belleview’s land and existing buildings, and fundraise for remodeling and new construction. Nearly all of Belleview’s approximately 100 members became involved at The Rock and welcomed this new relationship, according to the church's website.
Photo 3: Mike Andrews, right, was the Belleview Community Church pastor and now serves as spiritual formation and men's ministry pastor.
Photo 4: The new facility includes a 850-seat auditorium, a 9000 square foot Children’s Center, and a 7000 square foot Youth Center.