By Rajmund Dabrowski – Denver, Colorado … When you drive or walk through the Five Points, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver, you might wonder if a church could be established there. Laced with bars, warehouses, small business establishments, and with graffiti everywhere, it gives you the impression of a dangerous place to start a church.
Miloš Tomić, an associate pastor of the Arvada Adventist Church will take you back to 2019 when he threw out an idea during a pastoral evaluation meeting at the Rocky Mountain Conference. Ed Barnett, former RMC president, challenged him quite directly: “Like, hey, you know what? You guys from Arvada, you guys can do this. You guys should just get a place and start a church downtown.”
We took the challenge with a group of young Adventists from our local church, Miloš explained. But then COVID came and messed up the whole idea until pretty much the middle of this year. The idea did not go away. “Let’s do something that is not going to be [getting] in the way of people connecting with this ministry because this neighborhood is very dangerous. People who live in the neighborhood, “they’re a part of the space [we] rent. They’re a part of the neighborhood we are in, and a lot of them are very anti-church,” he reflected.
On Sabbath, December 11, Pastor Tomić and a group of Arvada young people met for what could be seen as a seeker worship. Thus started the Five Points Life Adventist Church.
You quickly discover that you are participating in a meeting of a group of young people who are trying to get themselves sorted out with the presence of God in their lives, a group of young people committed to “helping this neighborhood experience something better, something bigger and something that will improve the neighborhood and just get the people over here, [to help them] understand that the spiritual aspect of life is as important as boozing and bar hopping as they have it around here,” Miloš explained.
Five Points Life has two objectives – to create an environment, a community for everyone; and to promote the values of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus, sticking to the things that really matter to people, allowing them to find their path with God and to find solutions in their lives with God.
This is a church, Miloš said, “but this is not like your typical, average, or usual church you’re going to have. This is a group of people who are here not to listen to me. People come here to share, to hear what others have to share. This will never be that typical [approach] with let’s line up, let’s stand up, let’s sit down, let’s do this, let’s do that. The New Testament church was kind of a complete freedom of expression.”
“We are going to the basics,” he added.
Joining the group was Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director. He commented, “it thrills my soul to know that we now have a safe place in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver where young adults can come and connect to God and with other young adults. Miloš’s biblical insights are very inspiring and relevant. You leave church feeling grateful for your blessings and excited about the ones to come.”
The group began with their involvement in the neighborhood by getting to know their neighbors and promoting their presence in the area.
Observing the small group at the opening worship and discussion meeting in the Posner Center, where they are renting space, one could develop an appreciation for their dedication to make the initiative work. The growth will depend on unwavering dependence on God’s guidance. As their invitation for other Seventh-day Adventists states: “In the spirit of acceptance and compassion, and with a goal for everyone to feel welcome, we will preach the Gospel message and maintain seeker worship.”
–Rajmund Dabrowski is editor of NewsNuggets. Photos by Rajmund Dabrowski.