Lafayette’s Flatirons Community Church Looks East in Latest Expansion
Lafayette’s Flatirons Community Church, one of the fastest growing places of worship in the United States, is expanding once again.
Flatirons, already with five campuses in its network, will be pushing further east in the new year with a campus to be established in the Brighton area.
The Brighton campus will join its flagship church in Lafayette, as well as its west campus in Golden, plus its homes in Longmont, Denver and Aurora.
Ben Foote, a 33-year-old Broomfield resident and teaching pastor for Flatirons Community Church — meaning he periodically delivers the weekly sermon simulcast to all campuses when Lead Pastor Jim Burgen is not doing so — has been named campus pastor for the new Brighton church.
“That’s a new experience for me,” Foote said. “I started here doing student ministry, working with middle and high school students, and did that. And then I became a teaching pastor, and was in that role for a year and a half. The campus thing is brand new for me, and that’s super exciting.”
Foote said the selection of Brighton for Flatirons’ next manifestation “just made sense, in terms of the demographics of people who live there,” citing the number of young families moving into that area.
Additionally, he said, many people from that region already attend Flatirons at its other campuses, and can be an asset when the church opens its doors in Brighton. The church there, like its Longmont and Aurora sites, will be a home that is rented by the church one day a week.
“We do a load-in, load-out thing, and we have trailers full of audio-visual gear, the stuff we need to pull it off. We have volunteer teams who show up and help us get set up and tear down afterwards,” he said, pointing out that there will be a base of Brighton-area church members already familiar with that process from other campuses
“We can start with some people who have been coming to Flatirons, and who are passionate about having a church in their hometown, and really get it kicked off, growing quickly, and hopefully introducing new people to the life of Jesus,” Foote said.
“The hope is that, if there are people in Brighton who have hit dead-ends in life and are looking for something new, something fresh, and something true, well, I think that is found in Jesus. And I hope we can introduce Jesus to new people, so they can enjoy a new life. And there’s a big challenge in that, but it’s an exciting one.”
For several years, Flatirons has been listed as one of the largest churches in the country by the Colorado Springs-based Outreach Magazine, and was ranked the 15th biggest by the publication in 2015.
It has not been without controversy in the years it has been evolving into a major force in the spiritual community.
Flatirons was criticized in past years for taking a stance in opposition to same sex marriage, before it was sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015. Flatirons also riled some in Lafayette with its 2015 purchase of the Lafayette Marketplace — now known as The District, home of the church administration offices — further expanding its tax-exempt footprint in the city.
It’s now reached its highest-ever ranking by Outreach, slotted in at No. 13 in the current listing , credited with an average weekly attendance of 17,080. The next largest Colorado church is Red Rocks Church in Littleton, at No. 23 with a reported attendance of 13,009. The only other church in the state in the Outreach top 100 is Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, at No. 88 with 5,895 attendees.
Foote understands how Flatirons’ expansive reach could be intimidating to a newcomer.
“In the way that it could possibly be a turnoff to someone, I totally get it, because that’s how I’m wired, the rebel nature that I have,” Foote said.
“I totally get why people would look at it and say, ‘It’s a mega-church and they do the stereotypical things mega-churches do,’ and they are turned off by it. I had all those same thoughts in my head when I walked in there for the first time in 2010.
“And then I was consistently proven wrong.”
Foote said Flatirons has not identified its inaugural meeting place for Brighton, but he expects that will be taken care of within a couple of weeks.
“We’ll stay there as long as it is mutually beneficial and as long as it can fit the number of people we have showing up, until we simply can’t fit everybody, anymore,” Foote said.
It could be anywhere from a year to five years before a more permanent site is established in Brighton, he said.
In the event that a hoped-for site in downtown Brighton does not materialize, Foote said the search for a location could be broadened to include the Thornton area.
Charlie Brennan: 303-473-1327, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/chasbrennan