Experience Speaks: Shawn Johnson

In our Experience Speaks series, Outreach 100 pastors share what they’ve learned about themselves, the church and the definition of success.

Shawn Johnson
Red Rocks Church in Golden, Colorado


The church is the greatest evangelistic tool on the planet! The more and more we empower and encourage people to partner with it, the more and more God will use it to change eternities. The church belongs to him and not us; as long as he gets the credit, and not us … it just works! It grows, it reaches and it changes lives in ways we could never manufacture.

The church is this crazy paradox to me. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to manage; yet he’s in control of it all. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had; yet he does the real work.  I’m still trying to figure out what my responsibility really is here!

I’ve also learned that churches don’t grow simply because of the spirituality or giftedness of the leaders; if that were the case, the 100 Fastest-Growing church list would look a lot different—for sure we wouldn’t be on it. Churches grow because God blesses them at times and for reasons we won’t understand until heaven, and those of us undeserving leaders who get to experience it shouldn’t be prideful, just incredibly thankful.


I care about what other people think, especially the critics, more than I’d like to admit and way more than I wish I did. I can be used by God to make an eternal difference in this world in spite of all my shortcomings, faults and inexperience. I would rather fail as part of a team than succeed on my own. I’ve learned I’m not nearly as good at this church stuff as I thought I would be when we started.


Most days I think success would be just not screwing everything up here. Success to me is found in those rare moments when I feel like I’m trying my best to use the gifts and opportunities God has given me to make heaven more crowded—and I’m getting closer to, and really enjoying, God and my family in the process—those are the good days!


My mom once told me that life is what happens while I’m pursuing my dreams. I try to think about that while I’m charging the mountain nonstop, chasing after the next “successful” church initiative. If I’m going to live with my foot on the gas, then I’m going to have to figure out how to enjoy the process at a really fast pace.

Golden, Colorado
Lead Pastor: Shawn Johnson
Twitter: @ShawnJohnsonRRC
Website: RedRocksChurch.com
Founded: 2005
Affiliation: Nondenominational
Locations: 4
Attendance: 7,654
Growth in 2014: +1,358 (22%)
Fastest-Growing: 17
Largest: 55

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