SBC Life Articles

COOPERATING FOR THE GOSPEL Circle Drive Baptist: Transitioning Pew-Sitters into Disciples



With a clear, simple purpose statement of “Make Disciples,” what does a church do when it outgrows its landlocked facilities in a part of town facing significant demographic changes?

Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has already chosen to assist a neighboring Baptist church that ministers in the heart language of many of the area’s newer residents. The church already hosts another people group that meets in its facilities. The congregation already has adopted an unreached, unengaged people group in West Africa in partnership with IMB’s Embrace initiative. The church already maintains ongoing missions partnerships in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and Romania. Church members already have been on mission trips to seventeen nations (including the United States) since 2002. Circle Drive Baptist already is heavily invested in missions and ministries across Pikes Peak Baptist Association and throughout the state of Colorado.

Two years ago the church where pastor Mike Routt serves voted to purchase twenty acres in a highly visible, fast-growing section of Colorado Springs. The land, already paid for, is within a mile of a new development that will result in six thousand new homes in the next few years. This is a church where the twenty people who started the congregation in 1954 took food each week from their own meager larders to share with their poorly-paid pastor. They were (and are) more interested in doing for others than doing for themselves. So they responded unanimously last fall when Routt, who currently serves as vice chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, suggested they rise to the “1% CP Challenge” voiced by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, and increase their giving to missions through the Cooperative Program by 1 percent.

“Our church is in the midst of a $10.5 million capital fund-raising campaign for a total campus relocation,” Routt said. “So why increase our CP giving 1 percent at this time in our church’s history?

“The needs of others remain of greater importance to our people than their own,” Routt said of his church. “Through our giving to CP, we support thousands of IMB and NAMB missionaries; we support thousands of students who are preparing for the Gospel ministry in our six SBC seminaries; we support religious liberty through the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and we support the work of our own state convention in saturating Colorado with the Gospel. Our church also supports strongly the Cooperative Program because of partnership with other churches of our denomination across America.”

The Cooperative Program is the way Southern Baptist churches pool their missions dollars for maximum impact around the world.

“They did it enthusiastically,” Routt said. “People are excited. We’re wanting to expand; we want to have a greater impact in the Kingdom of God, and the Cooperative Program helps us have that Kingdom impact.

“Both tasks are urgent! We must move forward locally to fulfill the Great Commission in our ‘Jerusalem.’ But we must also move forward globally to fulfill the Great Commission ‘to the ends of the earth.’”

Their “Jerusalem”—the greater Colorado Springs area—starts with pew-sitters, people in the church who may have no specific ministry vision, the pastor said. This starts with the church’s children’s ministry led by Kathy Routt, the pastor’s wife. She completely revamped the children’s ministry area and its programs so that children know they are loved and important to God. The goal is for each child to know God personally, believe His Word, and share His love with others. This ministry is extended through Circle Drive’s outreach at Will Rogers Elementary School.

“Our whole ministry, in every church we were at, I worked with children and their families,” she said. “I have two passions—children and missions. God has given me a passion for children and their families. It’s truly a blessing to serve the church and see people’s lives changed and see what God does.

“I love being a pastor’s wife. Not every pastor’s wife is the same,” she added. “We have different qualities. God gifts each pastor’s wife differently and we don’t need to be like the pastor’s wife down the street in the way we serve the church. We just need to be faithful to do what He has called us to do.”

Each age group at Circle Drive, preschool through adult, including men and women, is targeted for specific ministries to help nurture the faith of pre-believers and mentor Christians into becoming fully-engaged disciples. In addition, the church has specialized ministries to the military, the deaf, an active evangelistic outdoor ministry, and more.

Colorado Springs is home to the United States Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and Fort Carson Army Base. It is also the site of The Garden of the Gods, a national natural landmark, and sprawls across a canyon-webbed valley overshadowed by Pike’s Peak.

“We’re not in a hurry” about raising the money to be able to relocate, Routt said. “It’s not about ambition. It’s determining, discovering God’s will and doing it. I would love for us to raise the entire amount and just be able to give our church building to the association to use for an inner city ministry.”

In addition to its other ministries, Circle Drive Baptist sponsors Grassroots Church plant, a multi-housing ministry that distributes food and furniture, does construction mission projects statewide, and hosts pre-evangelism events such as 4th of July and Thanksgiving celebrations.

“Mike Routt and Circle Drive Baptist Church are major players not only in Colorado Springs but in Colorado as a state,” said Mark Edlund, executive director for the Colorado Baptist General Convention. “Mike is a major asset to the Kingdom work in Colorado.”

Routt, pastor since 2002, led the church to define its simple, specific purpose statement so every member could easily remember it. Everything the church does must directly align with “Make Disciples.” As a result, some ministries that had been successful in the past were phased out. His pastoral predecessor, who retired after fifty years in the ministry, has remained with the church and is fully supportive of its new initiatives.

With the elimination of television, bus, and other ministries that didn’t appear to be as fruitful in making disciples in the present as they had been in the past, some of the reclaimed budget dollars were allocated to support other missions, including Cooperative Program giving. When the church voted last fall to accept the 1% CP Challenge, CP giving grew to 6 percent.

“The Cooperative Program connects us with other local churches, churches around the state, and churches across the nation,” Routt said. “CP allows us to carry out the Great Commission through giving. While it is physically impossible for our specific church to go to all the countries of the world with the Gospel of Jesus, we can go to these countries through our giving to the Cooperative Program so that thousands can go in our place.

“In his address to the messengers of the 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans, Dr. Frank Page shared with us that the fuel for the Great Commission Advance is the fuel of the Cooperative Program,” Routt continued. “He also admonished us that the Great Commission will be left to someone else if we don’t provide the fuel. I realize the way for this goal to be met: one church at a time!”