Millennial church near Phoenix launches with eight baptisms  

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By Mark Kelly 

PHOENIX – Queen Creek, Ariz., is growing fast enough to make your head spin. In just three years, a city of 29,673 southeast of Phoenix has exploded to an estimated 50,000 people.

But Trey Van Camp’s head isn’t spinning. His heart is broken.

“I was born and raised here,” says the church planter. “Queen Creek is one of fastest growing cities in our state. A lot of young families are moving in. But half the people here claim no religion at all, and half the others are Mormons. Most of the rest are Catholic.”

The thought of so many souls deprived of the gospel weighed heavily on Trey and his father, Billy, who pastors Heart Cry Cowboy Church in Queen Creek. They decided a new church was needed to reach the flood of young outsiders moving into the city, who weren’t likely to drive out to Horseshoe Park for services targeting Queen Creek’s native cowboys.

Throughout 2015, a core team of about 40 people gathered in four different Bible studies, and the new congregation, Heart Cry Gathering, drew 140 people to its January 10 launch at a movie theater in the heart of Queen Creek’s bustling north side.

Eight people were baptized that first Sunday and, barely two months later, another five were baptized on Easter.

“We want as many baptisms as possible. That's what we're all about,” says Trey. “It's crazy how many people are moving in. There just aren’t enough churches being planted to meet the need.”

Heart Cry Gathering is connecting with the Millennial generation by being both ancient and modern at the same time, Trey says.

“We do communion every week. We recite confessions. We are really rooted in the history of the Church,” Trey says. “But we meet in a movie theater and use video technology very well. All our leadership is in their 20s, but at the same time we talk about what we do as Southern Baptists and we are passionate about the Cooperative Program.”

Heart Cry Gathering tries to get maximum leverage out of its movie theater setting.

“We gave away 100 free movie tickets at our launch service,” Trey says. “All our flyers look like movie theater posters, and we use movie clips to illustrate what we are talking about in our services.”

But while they are connecting the gospel to people, Heart Cry Gathering also wants to connect people to their community, and the community to the mission of Jesus.

“We want to be a church that is missionary right away,” Trey says.

“We are really focusing on the ASU Polytechnic campus, which graduates engineers and nurses and teachers. Our passion there is to raise up disciples and send them out as missionaries wherever they get a job offer. We have a mission trip this summer to Alaska, and we send teams to the Rio Vista Center, which is the Southern Baptist homeless outreach in Phoenix. We want to disciple our people to serve others who can never pay them back.”

The congregation struggles, however, against the apathy that holds many Millennial hearts hostage, Trey says.

“People my age are apathetic,” he says. “I have some friends who think what we are doing is cool, but they don’t want anything to do with it. Religion is not a route they want to take.”

Not a single person responded to the 5,000 mailers sent out for the launch, so Heart Cry Gathering must take the long view and invest in relationships, Trey says.

“Every person who has come was because we have made a relationship with them,” he says. “That’s hard because it takes a long time. But we had one couple come last Sunday who told us they would never ever come to our church. They said, ‘We don’t like Christians. We don’t like Jesus,’ but they came yesterday, so we praise God for that. We have to keep pressing on and keep loving people. It takes a long time, but it’s worth it.”

Two of the congregation’s worship leaders are brand-new believers who came to Christ because time was invested in relationships.

“I was working out one day, and I met this guy. I invited him over to our house and he brought his wife,” Trey says. “They showed up at my house all of 2015 for the Bible study. We led them to Christ, and I got to officiate their wedding in November. Then they were in the group I baptized on our launch day. Now he is leading music for our worship team.

“Our drummer was a one of the ones who said he would never come to church,” Trey adds. “But the guy who is now our worship leader was his best friend. He got saved, and now his kids are going to be baptized. It’s amazing to see how Jesus has transformed his life.

“Our team is comprised of former drug addicts, people from broken families, former atheists and Mormons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Learn more about Heart Cry Gathering at Explore more about church planting through the North American Mission Board at

Mark Kelly writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 5/2/2016 3:38:47 PM

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