First Baptist Church Black Forest
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado building codes and the fire marshal were the only things standing between First Baptist Church Black Forest and the community they were trying to reach.
In 2016, the Colorado Springs-based congregation was bursting at the seams under the leadership of senior pastor Bob Bender. To make room for continued growth, the church focused on its children’s ministry due to the high number of young families in the area.
“Colorado Springs is among the most attractive cities in America for millennials,” Bender says. “Half of our church is under 21 years of age, so it’s a very exciting dynamic.”
The goal was to build a new children’s center adjacent to the church’s main building. But before construction could begin, FBC Black Forest had to secure financing. That’s when Bender heard about WatersEdge Ministry Services.
“The WatersEdge presentation was clear, concise and compelling. They left the decision up to us and we haven’t regretted it,” he says, explaining that the deciding factor was the opportunity to support Southern Baptist ministries through the church’s loan.
“We chose WatersEdge because of high mission value—our loan interest being reinvested in churches and ministries across the nation. That’s the bottom line,” he explains. “Other offers [from secular lenders] were comparable, but we go where the reinvestment occurs in ministry and missions.”
FBC Black Forest took out a loan with WatersEdge for $2.2 million in July of 2016. Less than a year later, in April of 2017, dozens of children and church members gathered for the grand opening of the new 12,000 square foot children’s center. Designed to function as an all-purpose building, it includes food service, an indoor playground, as well as space for worship, education and recreation.
Today, Bender says God is already using the church’s investment to make a Kingdom impact on its community. An average of 200 children attend FBC Black Forest every Sunday and the church’s Awana program has more than doubled since the building was finished. More than 80 children have come to faith in Jesus through the children’s ministry since January of 2017 and at least 50 of them have been baptized. In the summer of 2018, close to 400 children attended vacation bible school at the church.
“The children’s center has been a wonderful boon to us and we’ve obviously seen numerical growth from it,” Bender says. “But we’re mainly excited about the space for the sake of our children and the quality Christian education they’re receiving there.
“What God is doing with this little happy church in the forest is pretty phenomenal.”
Story by Anna Dellinger
Photos by Beverly Bender