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Breathe Worship Center Welcomes the Misfits
By Amber Cassady
Colorado Springs, Colo.- An island of misfit toys. The famous group of toys that are broken down and unwanted from the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer serves as the picture of the make-up of Breathe Worship Center in Colorado Springs. Pastor of this two and a half year young church plant, Drew Van Gorder, says that their growing group of seekers and new believers are often the outsiders that many tend to overlook.
God planted the seeds in Van Gorder’s heart that lead to the humble beginning of this church plant when he was working on the ALERT team at the Limon Correctional facility. During the four years as an employee there, he felt compelled by God to do something else. At first he thought he would be a state patrolmen but that fell through. Then one day, Van Gorder was dealing with God about what to do next as he was driving home after work when he heard a small whisper of “Pastor”- a still small whisper that Van Gorder compares to the story in Elijah. God was not in the waves or the wind or the fire, but He made himself heard in the soothing sound of a soft whisper.
Van Gorder began his pursuit of answering God’s call on his life and discovered that his role as a pastor would come in the form of church planting. His wife, Rachel, believed it to be a phase. However, as Van Gorder painted their basement for people to gather and enrolled in seminary, she realized that their new mission as a couple was to start a church.
Since the start in 2010, Van Gorder says that the formation of Breathe Worship Center has been a gradual process. A launch team was formed of eight people that included both believing and non-believing friends. Bible studies were held in the basement of their home. Word got out about this new church in the area where people felt as though they could come as they are- tattoos, piercings, quirks and all.
“I have seen druggies, strippers, complete pagans, Wiccans and witches come to Christ and be baptized,” Van Gorder said. “One amazing thing that the Lord has allowed me to do is to go into that very dark element and see lives changed for Jesus Christ.”
When Drew Parrott, an overseas war veteran, first attended Breathe Worship Center, he was experiencing deep pains from his service in the military and struggling with horrors that he witnessed. He described himself as having a chip on his shoulder, and that religion and church had no part of his life up until that point. “It was nerve-racking at first. Breathe Worship was the first church that I ever sat foot in,” Parrott said. “But everyone there just opened their arms to me.” Parrott was moved by God at work through this ministry and soon accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
After Parrott was baptized on Easter Sunday, Pastor Van Gorder did an open invitation for anyone else who was in attendance to be baptized. The most incredible miracle then occurred as Parrott’s fiancé, Shandy Kent, who was a Wiccan, ran down the aisle ready to become a believer and be baptized right then in her full clothing. Parrott said that Shandy felt the Holy Spirit move in her life that day, and she knew she needed to believe in Him.
According to Parrot, the couple loves being involved at Breathe Worship Center. “We are a part of what the church is doing not because we feel like we need to, but because we want to.” Their friends have taken notice of the significant change in their lives and are also coming to hear the message of hope in Jesus Christ that is shared in the loving environment of the church.
Kent and Parrott are only 2 of 20 baptisms that have happened in the last two and a half years. Approximately 50 people attend on Sunday mornings, and there are special ministries for the kids to participate in as well. Breathe Worship Center will continue to grow as they form genuine relationships with the outcast and broken-hearted- an exercise of Christ’s love that keeps individuals coming back. As Parrott says, “I was iffy about [Breathe Worship] at first, but I can’t see myself without them now.”
Breathe Worship Center was also a part of Power Plant, a week emphasis on church planting for youth groups in which existing churches are partnered to serve and learn about different church plants, from June 10 through June 16. The first photo shows Pastor Van Gorder speaking to the group of students about specific ins and outs of the reality of church planting. His message was simple yet powerful as he challenged students to ask God for the desire to tell people about Jesus if that is not something that they do already on a regular basis.
Breathe Worship Center partnered specifically with Union Valley Baptist Church from Ada, Oklahoma and carried out multiple projects that week involving servant evangelism and canvassing the neighborhoods with information about the church. The students of this youth group went away with new perspectives on church planting and what it means to live on mission in their own backyards.
*Photography by Amber Cassady*
Amber Cassady is the missional correspondent for Colorado Baptists this summer and is a senior Communication student at Texas A&M University.