The Next Level Church in Denver began as the Gen-X brand of Applewood Baptist Church in 1993. It eventually became independent, and was known for a high-energy Tuesday night worship event drawing thousands from the Denver metro area.
Now 15 years old, The Next Level Church is facing the challenges and changes that come with time. It's now more, well, level.
Entering the building of Greenwood Community Church (the facility TNL now rents for its Tuesday night service), it becomes clear that some elements have not changed. The crowd is still young and predominantly single. No walkers or strollers here. And they still prefer the music loud. TNL brings their own giant stacks of speakers to supplement the sound system used by Greenwood's largely Boomer congregation.
But these holdovers from The Next Level's origins belie the maturation the church has experienced. Today those gathering number in the hundreds, not thousands. The primary focus of the church is no longer the Tuesday night event, but the geographic home groups that meet on Sundays. And unlike the first half of its life, TNL is no longer led by a highly visible and dynamic senior pastor. Instead, a team of four core pastors share equal responsibility for the ministry.
One of them compares their leadership philosophy to the way a band composes music: "It's organic, artistic, and collaborative. It's right-brained." They compare it to bands like Coldplay or U2 rather than corporations like Microsoft or GE. And there is no room in their lexicon for words normally associated with workplace hierarchies. Authority, they say, comes from trust, love, and being a brother rather than a boss.
Two of the core pastors, Jared Mackey (ministry pastor) and John Miller (worship pastor), have ...