Photos: The seven biggest megachurches in Colorado

megachurch.205x205.jpg
Big photos below.
This week's cover story, "The Prodigal Pastor," focuses on Gil Jones, a dynamic preacher who built two modest, youth-oriented "seeker" churches into thriving megachurch operations, then abruptly stepped down amid complaints about his relationships with women in his congregation -- and is now embroiled in similar controversies at his latest venture, the Village. Jones's maverick ministry raises questions about the leadership structure of independent, so-called seeker churches, and more basic questions as well -- like what constitutes a megachurch, anyway?

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research, which has compiled an impressive database of more than 1,500 megachurches across the United States, defines a megachurch as any Protestant house of worship with a weekly attendance of 2,000 or more.

The group doesn't try to count large Catholic churches, for various reasons, but it's found many similarities among the large Protestant operations. They tend to be theologically conservative, for example, and evangelical in outlook, with a heavy concentration in the Sunbelt.

flatirons.church.easter.jpg
An Easter service at the number one megachurch on the list.
They're also a growing phenomenon. Most American churchgoers still belong to small, staid congregations of a couple hundred people or so. But such homey arrangements are seeing a steady erosion of membership, while the big-box stores -- especially large, nondenominational churches that feature a charismatic leader, podcasts, lots of social media and live music and other contemporary worship innovations -- are in the ascendancy.

Hartford lists 32 Colorado megachurches in its database. Pathways, the church Jones led from 2009 until late last year, had a weekly attendance in the 1,500-2,000 range at its high point -- but it doesn't make the list. However, there are seven churches in the state with average weekly attendance of 5,000 or more, according to the database.

Here they are -- in ascending order, of course:

faith.bible.chapel.jpg
Faith Bible Chapel Facebook page

7. Faith Bible Chapel.

Location: Arvada

Pastor: George Morrison

Nondenominational

Average weekly attendance: 5,000

Continue to keep counting down the seven biggest megachurches in Colorado, featuring photos, a video and information about each.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
49 comments
Meg Needler
Meg Needler

I went to Flatirons for several years. Their messages are Bible based. That is not always popular. The messages are also relevant to people's lives. What I don't like about Flatirons is that it's really hard to get to know others in such a large venue.

travishenry
travishenry

I can't speak for "megachurches" or the past, but I feel comfortable chiming in on how Flatirons is today. Unless you have been there, you won't understand, you just can't get it.  I would welcome people to "come and see" for themselves, and if they still have misgivings so be it. Flatirons isn't about the music and it's not about its charismatic preacher. It's about giving people the opportunity to bump into Jesus and work their own stuff out. Flatirons is popular because, no matter what the commenters or people who have never been there say, everybody really is welcome.
The church recognizes that everyone is wrestling with something and that traditionally a twisted sort of Christianity, most times through strong religious institutions, has actually been the biggest roadblock in allowing people to connect with God, just as in Jesus' day.   Flatirons wants to get that roadblock out of the way and allow you to have your own conversation with God. Where it goes from there is really up to you. 

Krista Addessi
Krista Addessi

@Jordan Snyder- white privileges? Thats hillarous. I have never been privileged in my life. I've been working since I was 16 and had to pay rent to my own parents when I was that young! I have depression, I go to a doctor and take meds for it. Mental illness is treatable. Even if it is a MMJ crime it was still a crime. Last but not least, I probably read more books than you do in any given year.

Erik Radke
Erik Radke

For all the people claiming flatirons excepts everyone seems to miss the boat on that one; I seem to remember the all excepting church is quite opposed to homosexuality. All the pro flatirons comments sounds like they are spoken by people that work there.

nickbrown79
nickbrown79

For all of you posting and bashing these "mega churches" and the people who attend - I'd guarantee that you have at least a couple friends that go to one of these churches. And I bet they aren't crazy weirdo lemmings that so many people state they are. 

Will you find a couple weirdos? Probably. But the majority of the people that attend are normal,  smart, productive, successful pillars of their communities. The whole "people who go to church are stupid" rant is getting tired. 

Sometimes things that are conspicuously missing go unnoticed, but I think you'll realize that us weirdo Christians aren't calling you names or degrading your beliefs or insulting your intelligence like your side so very much likes to do. 

Riddle me this - when was the last argument you won by calling the other person an idiot. When was the last time insulting someone's intelligence got the response of "oh wow, thanks for showing me my stupidity. I'm changing my opinion."  So why does your side feel the need to constantly make fun of us or bash our beliefs? Do you expect some sort of change to occur by repeating the same thing over and over? Or is it that you aren't trying to win the argument at all. And if that's the case, then the only other reasonable explanation for your comments would be to just spew hateful things. And that makes you no better than someone who picks on other people for no reason. 


Jordan Snyder
Jordan Snyder

@Krista Addessi - I'm sorry, you obviously understand nothing about the homeless. A large percentage of them can't just "get off their ass and get a job" because of mental illness, criminal records (which may well be non-violent offences, for example involving marijuana) and many other reasons. Careful, your white privilege is showing. Read a book or something?

Krista Addessi
Krista Addessi

I personally don't give to the homeless because they need to get off their ass and get a job. I've got a job. About to get a second as well. Who cares if its mcdonalds...its money! And if you can't get a job because you have a felony...well thats your problem, you fucked up. And there are jobs that will take felonies. So I say get a effin job! There is always a way and if there isnt...then you REALLY messed up along the way if you have NO ONE that will help you. P.S. Flatirons does give to the commnuity and have a ton of outreach efforts going on.

Krista Addessi
Krista Addessi

I agree with you Kellie. I don't even identify as Christian. I am agnostic and love that Flatirons provides the space for me to LEARN instead of feel like I'm out of place or bad for not believing 100%.

James Lindberg
James Lindberg

Ah yes, here come the liberal "progressives" preaching love and acceptance..... except for Christians..... and conservatives....... and anyone else who doesn't view the world exactly the same way they do.

Matt Gunderson
Matt Gunderson

Genius way to rake in the millions. "god" commands a whopping 10%. Not even the government can scam that hard

Kellie Lankutis
Kellie Lankutis

@Sam I'm sorry you feel that way. Unfortunately there are some people out there that use their religion as an excuse to be greedy and hateful. But not all Christians are like that. I hope one day you're not so angry and take the time to meet every single Christian to make a sound judgement about who we are.

Tim Calahan
Tim Calahan

I consider megachurches to be even more corrupt then their smaller counterparts.

GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

"You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion." - L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology and author of the "brainwashing manual"

Samuel Walter
Samuel Walter

Christianity IS a cult; a blood sacrifice cult. Don't believe me? Put down the Bible and pick up a dictionary.

Samuel Walter
Samuel Walter

These giant fraud churches are despicable (as are small churches). That 40% of the American people reject the fact of evolution is shameful, and the mindless imps who attend these godly circle-jerks serve only to fill the pockets of the preachers, and propagate more absurd bullshit.

Jordan Snyder
Jordan Snyder

@Holly Elkins - you mad bro? Actually, I found the article very poignant and informative, thanks Prendergrast. I'm glad I know that this pastor recruits his lady friends from his own congregation. Pastors are nothing special and this is but one example that proves it. I think a lot of pastors listen to modern pop rap music because so many are all about money, sex and power. And people listen to their advice? OK!

Jordan Snyder
Jordan Snyder

I don't want to be aggressive but I am very grateful to see the comments *against* mega churches. We've got some conscious people commenting here (and a few less conscious people too I guess!)

Jean Hawk
Jean Hawk

As they grow they pay even less taxes... Still ZERO!!!! Make them pay their fair share!!!!

James Gold
James Gold

That's some seriously freaky shit.

Michael Beckerman
Michael Beckerman

Here's a thought: how about we turn your nice mega church into a mega homeless shelter and give all the people in the community that are still living under bridges and in back alleys right now a place to live? Funny how we can come up with the funds to build a big, multi-million dollar mega church/event hall for all the self-important yuppies to come and party at once a week, but yet the homeless in the community, they still have to live under the same exact same bridges as always every week. Interesting how that seems to work out, isn't it? Want to do some actual good? Want to do something that actually matters? Then stop wasting all your time trying to "save souls" and start worrying more about helping those souls that actually need it, right here in your own community. Try spending less time worrying about the after life and more time doing some actual good that will make a difference to someone that needs help in THIS life. WAY too much talk, no where NEAR enough action.

Mason T Green
Mason T Green

I used to attend New Life Church about 10 to 12 years ago, and was a youth leader for its "TAG" Wednesday night youth group. Most of the guys and gals who run it are nice folks, but church is no place for an atheist like me. I think what most folks like about these megachurches is their happy-go-lucky atmosphere, seeming approachability from the leaders, soft pop-rock inspired music, and an air of anonymity. I say anonymity because if there are 2,000 other people, all mumbling and shuffling, you don't feel like such a dolt when you get swept away in its concert-style atmosphere. They're so successful because they claim to be welcoming of everyone, have huge financial backing, and the service leaders are skilled in effecting emotional responses from large crowds. Power in numbers, folks.

Evelyn Maria
Evelyn Maria

Would not feel this is the way to do church like a huge concert prefer a smaller church. Also, see on TV how many scams happen at these places

Gail Spisak
Gail Spisak

I attend The Potter's House Denver, I like everything about it. Pastor Chris Hill teaches the word of God in a very enthusiastic way. Worship is always off the charts and you feel the spirit.

Kellie Lankutis
Kellie Lankutis

I attend Flatirons. I love this church. The lessons are thoughtful and the band is amazing!! It's a place for someone to learn about Christ and have fun! A lot of churches I've been to always focus on how you're a bad person and church is the only way to be forgiven. Flatirons is a place to worship in your own way and know you have a place to go if you want to learn more. P.S. people who say Christians are apart of a cult is stupid. That's an old ragged insult that's been used a thousand times. It's the fall back insult for people who don't know a thing about other cultures abd religions.

Pamela Millard Priest
Pamela Millard Priest

I attend Flatirons. It is a place where there is not any condemnation. Where they welcome ALL no matter what you think your sins are. A place where stones are NOT thrown and messages are clear and to the point. Motto: ME TOO!

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

Really is Gil Jones an important element of this article? Why include him and make accusations that you have no proof are factual. This is your second article about him. Do you have a homosexual obsession with him? http://blogs.westword.com/author.php?author_id=936 Alan Prendergast. You have to be the worst journalist I've ever I've had the displeasure of reading.

Krista Addessi
Krista Addessi

I go to flatirons and would never go anywhere else. I feel welcome without being forced to actually talk to anyone if i dont want to and the message is always clear thought provoking with a few laughs. They are very involved in the community including on a global level and they offer a ton of small groups.

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

I wouldn't set foot in the door of those money leeches.

Sam Shefcik
Sam Shefcik

Money could be spent better then giving it to a church.

Michael Brinkley
Michael Brinkley

I have been to mega churches, not for me. It seems the members need entertainment. When I go to church, I go for a good message, singing old hymns, and cookies in the basement with the old people. An hour or so spent this way makes the rest of the week better.

Joshua Pərəz
Joshua Pərəz

People who attend these mega churchs prolly aren't the internet. Dont you know the internet is the DEVIL?

travishenry
travishenry

@Erik Radke I don't work there either. In fact, I am skeptical by nature. My background is as a journalist. Alan Prendegrast was my feature writing professor and I happen to love the Prodigal Pastor article he wrote that sparked these discussions. I also happen to go to Flatirons. So you can dismiss me as a Jesus Freak or not, but by all accounts the article (not in Westword) sensationalizing Flatirons as anti-gay was lazy journalism plain and simple. You have to trust me on that one. It was a hit and run during the holiday season based on social network lurking. A follow up article would have been enlightening.
The reason "pro Flatirons" comments sound like they are coming from people who work there is that many people who attend have found a welcome place they consider their spiritual home and it incites a level of passion when so many misstatements are made by people who have never been there.

nickbrown79
nickbrown79

@Erik Radke I don't work there. And you're not understanding the stance they have on homosexuality or any other controversial subject. Just 2 weeks ago they spoke on how EVERYONE is welcome and the whole point of what they're doing is to remove all the stuff that gets in the way and allow people to bump into Jesus and work their stuff out with Him.

The last service I went to they explicitly made this clear that all are welcome when, with permission, told a recent interaction with one of the current members who just had a sex change operation and asked the pastor if they were allowed there. The answer was a CLEAR "heck yes, you are allowed here." The only requirement to attend is to have a pulse. Your issues are between you and God and they are just creating an atmosphere for people to "bump into Jesus" as they often and adeptly put it. There are no requirements to "change your sex back" or "fix yourself up" to come. Erik, they'll even let you in.

One thing to note - it's not a good story unless there's controversy. No one will read that. Keep that in mind. 

Come check it out. The service is over in like an hour. You can sit by me. :)


michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@nickbrown79 Thanks for the post, Nick. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Matt Gunderson Ouch! Thanks for the post, Matt.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Kellie Lankutis Very interesting and passionate post, Kellie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

nickbrown79
nickbrown79

@Jean Hawk The reason the government doesn't require them to pay taxes is because they're GIVING MILLIONS back to the community. Flatirons spent $2,000,000 alone on missions in 2011 where they built a whole town for orphans in Africa. Not included in all of this was the 7 semi trucks of food raised each year for Sister Carmen's food bank, thousands of backpacks donated for underprivileged kids and the other FIFTY organizations they support. The money is better spent going directly to the people who need it than funneling 10 cents on the dollar through the government.

greggprovnza
greggprovnza

I was just under a bridge last night visiting the guy that lives under it. When I give things to the homeless I give it directly to them and avoid giving it to those 501c3 money laundering, charity robbing whore hoses they call "church". I'm not speaking against the real body of Christ. But none of those sunday service idolater houses have anything to do with the real body of Christ. I was telling the fellow I was visiting how I'm making a public example out of George Morrison of faith bible chapel in Arvada (who sells the poor out to counterfeit government). I'm distributing writings with George's face on it mostly in Arvada. And since George is on the board of directors for the CUFI law perverts, I also put a picture of a 3 year old Palestinian girl on it that was killed by Israeli military murderers (who are probably too stupid to understand that Jacob/Israel's blood is also in Palestinians). But John Hagees CUFI scum are ok with killing Israel in other countries. I did a video where I read the writing I'm distributing. Here's the link: http://youtu.be/hPtM9W_JEk8

travishenry
travishenry

@Michael Beckerman I admire your desire to help out the homeless and needy. I think you would be surprised at the support the "mega church" I attend gives to people who need food and shelter. http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_23201801/lafayettes-flatirons-community-church-sets-food-drive-record  
That food drive is just a small part of what the church does for the community. I am sure you will mock my comments, but the church actually doesn't publicize all the good works it does because it doesn't want to sound boastful. So I'll speak for them. A small sampling of what Flatirons does: local housing projects for those in need, thousands of backpacks and supplies for local school children who can't afford them, Habitat for Humanity, iempathize. Outside of the community Flatirons has groups of people who travel and give money/supplies to Afghanistan, Mexico and Africa, building schools, digging wells and proving safe places to people live. Maybe these efforts pale in comparison to the community work you are doing, but it's a start. I'm sure if you contacted your local "mega church" with a worthy cause, they would be willing to listen on how they could help out.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Gail Spisak Thanks for posting, Gail. Much appreciated.

swengels
swengels

Gil is referenced, because when it comes to megachurches in Colorado, he helped build the second largest in the state, a fact even Gil would celebrate. Your attacking remarks have a similar bent to his horrible text to people when hurt; graceless, harsh and, what did Gil call his text outburst in court under oather? Immature.

nickbrown79
nickbrown79

@Half Aspen That's too bad. I can't speak for all the churches on this list but Flatirons gives SOOOO much back to the community and their audited financials are POSTED on their website. If it's not enough, they welcome people to make an appointment with the accountant and he'll literally walk you through ALL THE BOOKS. They give SOOO much back to the community, both locally and globally. Maybe if you set foot in the door, at least look at the MILLIONS they give each year to better this city, state and planet. You might come away with a different idea of things.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...