Jim Burgen: A Church of Open Arms

Jim Burgen Senior Pastor
Flatirons Community Church Lafayette, Colo.
A 2013 Outreach 100 Church


When I began serving as the lead pastor of Flatirons in 2006, the church had always seen itself as a “mission.” Boulder County, Colo., is one of the most unchurched areas of the country. It is very “spiritual” when it comes to nature, Eastern religions, Wicca, etc., but it has always been rather hostile when it comes to evangelical Christianity. From day one, Flatirons has always existed to bring the awesome life of Christ to a lost and broken world. Because of this mission, many people who had been wounded or turned off by the “church-world” in the past, either because of personal bad experiences or irrelevancy, found a place at Flatirons because of our “open arms to everyone” policy. While this is a very positive policy, it tends to lead to becoming a place that is internally focused on “our problems” or “our brokenness.”

The turning point came in July 2007, when an organization I was affiliated with was working in Afghanistan with internally displaced people. They asked if Flatirons might be able to help fund a well in a settlement camp.

At the time, we were doing a series entitled, “In the Margins,” focusing on God’s heart for widows, orphans, aliens—people in the margins. So I went on stage that day and unrolled an Afghan rug I had received on my first trip to Afghanistan. On stage, I announced, Today, we are going to do offering a little bit different than the buckets at the doors when you leave.

After the message on addressing the needs of the poor, I announced that everything given that day in the offering, after meeting our budget needs, would be given away to the poor, including the well in the Afghan camp. I told them that if we had enough, we would try to build a school there and eventually, I would like to see if we could raise money for a clinic.

We are not a wealthy church by any stretch of the imagination, and we had never done a special offering like this before. People lined up from the front to the back of the room to give cash, checks, jewelry—whatever they had.


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