After twenty-two years of pastoral ministry in larger church contexts, my wife and I decided to follow the missional calling that God had put within our hearts, and already being experienced in our daily lives. Church ministry was good but looked very different than the ministry in our everyday lives. Weekly worship planning, teaching and bible studies seemed very different than the ministry we had with the homeless teens or single moms living in our spare room. What was happening at the church building or in the Bible study was packed with good teaching about the Kingdom, but what was playing out in our relationships outside of church was packed with what FELT like the Kingdom. This way of living for Jesus, combined with many years of reading Hirsch, Frost, Newbigin, and others, led us to decide to resign my position as an Executive Team member and Worship Pastor at a large multisite church and seek Jesus in a purer missional way.
We engaged a process of asking what ways we could join God outside of just the Sunday morning gathering. Questions and prayer started about moving to China, a country we have visited multiple times and have a love for. We discussed and even talked with other leaders about planting a different kind of church in a traditional manner. Ultimately, my studies around “third place environments”, readings from missional leaders, and love for coffee, led us to engage a missional business model in partnership with a church plant.
Two years ago we embarked on the journey of launching Third Space Coffee in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a for-profit coffee shop and event venue. Our vision has been to create a place of intersection that builds community in the North Colorado Springs area. In combination with Third Space, we planted, along with a leadership team, Ecclesia Colorado Springs which meets in the coffee shop on Saturday nights. While Third Space is not advertised as a “Christian” café, EcclesiaCOS meets as a missional community in the space and invites anyone wishing to know more about Jesus and Christian faith. Most of Ecclesia’s meetings revolve around “the table”, food, discussions about scripture and missional practice, the Lord’s Table, and prayer.
Ironically, as we were launching this new missional journey, two other missional opportunities came into view. Through common friends, I became connected to Forge America and recently launched a Forge Hub in Colorado Springs. While this launch was being discussed, I also became involved with a larger church in Colorado Springs that made the decision to embrace growing the Kingdom by launching micro-communities and expressions, rather than building a larger campus, and recently hired me as the Pastor of Missional Culture at Pulpit Rock Church in Colorado Springs to spearhead these efforts.
These four hats, while seemingly a lot, work in synergy with God's mission to love the city and announce Jesus to our community. I’m amazed today at what God has brought to me and how it fits so well with my design and calling to the Kingdom. I often think that I would never have gotten to this place had I not released a comfortable position in the church I was on staff at before. I wake up every day excited and amazed that I get to experience the missional conversation as a practitioner in a small faith community, large faith community, missional business, and as a Forge Hub Director.
- Rowland Smith, Forge Colorado Springs