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Southern Colorado association sees opportunities for planting, revitalization

A basketball clinic is one way churches are trying to build relationships and reach their community in Pueblo, Colo. (Submitted photo)

PUEBLO, Colo. (BP) — Necessary changes and new resources have become part of the refining process for new leaders at the associational level.

The Acts 13 Experience out of Royal Gorge Baptist Association has drawn attention from other groups across the country through its intent on training laypeople in theological and ministry leadership. Changes include tweaks to better fit work and family schedules as well as a workbook and teaching guides for fostering apprenticeships, said associational missionary Nate Templin.

“We’ve created better pathways for leadership through A13,” he told Baptist Press. “We constantly adapt, because it’s not a program but a process and the output is the important piece.”

A key development is the establishment of a mission house developed for collegians who would like to serve in the Pueblo area, beginning next summer. The time frame is negotiable, but recent graduates can serve up to two years, said Templin.

“We would love to have Colorado students and make it more indigenous, which is the heart of A13,” he added, “but we are open to whoever God might send.”

That housing is set to be repurposed out of an empty church building after the congregation disbanded. The building is located near Aberdeen Baptist Church on the west side of the city.

Aberdeen’s membership trends older. Young people would benefit the church with their energy, obviously, but also receive mentorship from those eager to pass along life lessons.

“We could look at all kinds of different connections from the housing opportunities,” said Aberdeen pastor Greg Duke.

Duke’s wife, Allison, wrote a column for Colorado Baptists in April on the need to navigate the cultural age gap.

“It might sound overly simplistic, but the simple truth is that Jesus is the answer,” she said. “He is our common ground. If his Spirit is truly at work within us, we can come together, acknowledge our differences, and use our various gifts to help grow the kingdom of God.”

Both of them are in their 40s, Allison was often the younger person in whatever church her husband was pastor.

“I’ve had many friends in all age groups, so I understand people, regardless of age. I’ve learned that no matter how old they are, people want to feel loved, respected, and valued.  They want their voices heard and they want to matter. They want to make an impact on the world,” she said.

The scope of the work for missionaries will vary.

“Our initial thoughts are they would serve with various local churches along with other ministries and in church plant/missional efforts,” said Templin. “We hope to have a couple of individuals who will take ownership of the internship and support them and make sure they are developing as missional disciple-makers.”

Apart from the housing, missionaries will need to raise their own support for groceries and spending money.

“We are hoping to figure out how to make it self-sustaining. I think we are even open to them having a part-time job that makes sense for the internship,” Templin said.

Those interested can get more information by reaching Templin at [email protected].

Missionaries will also work with Lake Avenue Community Church, which is set to launch this fall. It will be in the facilities of the former Lake Avenue Baptist Church, which existed for nearly 100 years before closing its doors in the late 1990s.

Missionary teams have been instrumental in fixing up the buildings to house the new church. Scott Godinez, a North American Mission Board lead church planter, will serve as pastor.

Initial support came through Royal Gorge Baptist Association and Steel City Fellowship, where Templin serves as pastor. Aberdeen Baptist has since taken on the role of sending church for Lake Avenue.

Godinez, his wife, Marianne, and their two little girls moved to the area in May 2022. Since then, the couple has been focused on establishing relationships with numerous community groups in anticipation of the church’s launch. A recent basketball camp drew 80 kids.

“We would love for collegiate missionaries to be a part of what we’re doing here,” he said. “They can expect to experience ministry in a tangible and effective way.”

Godinez had spent his previous ten years ministering in Denver. The fields are ripe in Pueblo, he added.

“There are so many tangible needs here. Students who serve with us will be able to connect a Gospel witness with people who are heavily relational and open to Gospel conversations. But even though they have a respect for God, many have been burned by churches.

“We’re focused on the emerging generation and those serving with us will have an outpouring of production.”