"We should be a big used-car lot right now."
As he preaches to New Life Church this Sunday morning, it's easy to see where Brady Boyd is coming from. Few churches anywhere have endured what the Springs church has gone through.
There was the 2006 scandal that led to the ouster of New Life's charismatic founder, Ted Haggard. Thirteen months later, while the congregation was still reeling, there was a tragic double-homicide in the parking lot, which ended with the killer shot dead inside the church.
And then the economy collapsed — bad timing for an institution that had only a few years earlier taken out millions of dollars in loans to fund construction projects. As Boyd tells his congregation Jan. 8, the church's struggle with attendance and giving has left them $23 million into debt. Each month, New Life writes a check against this debt for $150,000.
"What could we do with $150,000 a month?" he asks.
Good question — especially when you look at what New Life is doing without it. Last August, it opened DCCS, Dream Centers of Colorado Springs, a free women's health clinic ("Interpreting dreams," News, Aug. 11). The church is working with others to establish housing for former foster kids who have aged out of the state system. It's also starting an apartment complex for single mothers, called Mary's House. Boyd tells his congregation that he wants to do many such projects. "I can dream big," he says.
Two weeks after this sermon, more proof arises: the announcement of NewLifeDowntown, a satellite campus in the Carter Payne Events Center, a former African Methodist Episcopal church at 320 S. Weber St.
For the past two years, 34-year-old pastor Glenn Packiam has been leading the Sunday evening service at New Life. These services are small in New Life terms, with about 250 people, which is attractive to some people, says Packiam. Others are attracted to his incorporation of liturgy in the service.
"They were drawn to the rootedness of the written prayers," he says.
When Boyd suggested that the church start a downtown service in a similarly intimate setting, Packiam jumped at the chance. The idea is to provide a convenient location for congregants who don't live up north, while reaching new people who live downtown.
A number of the Sunday evening congregants, Packiam says, live downtown.
The church is renting the space for six hours on Sundays. There will be two morning services, holding up to 250 people, starting on Easter Sunday, April 8.
In his sermon, Boyd said that the church is looking at starting two satellite locations. According to Packiam, a second location hasn't been identified. (Boyd, currently on a mission in Africa, couldn't be reached for this article.)
However, Packiam does note that the church has seen an influx of military attendees from south of downtown, from the Fountain area.
"There is no template for this. We have no master plan," he says of the expansion. "This is not about finding a target market. It's more organic than that."
As for the challenges posed by the church's debt, Packiam says, "Brady wants the church to think about how much further we can go if we are out of this debt."