In the world of pastors, planting - or starting - churches has become its own specialty. The Rev. Barry Mooney and his wife, Ellen, have planted their third career church, this time in Durango, and they want to stay.
"It's not just about warm bodies in a seat, it's about making disciples," Barry Mooney said. "Some denominations are numbers-driven, but there's not one sermon that Jesus gave about how many people came."
The Mooneys began Mountainview Community Church in October 2006 with home Bible studies. The couple was recruited by the Rocky Mountain district of the Evangelical Free Church of America, which goes through a lengthy vetting process of both pastors and their wives to determine their potential for success in starting churches from scratch. The district has planted more than 50 churches in the last decade.
"Not every minister can be a good church planter," Barry Mooney said. "It takes an entrepreneurial spirit because it's cutting-edge ministry on the front lines. There's a lot of risk, but it's also exciting."
Ellen Mooney said even the wives are interviewed, because a stable marriage can help a church planter be successful. The Mooneys have been married 23 years.
"It's kind of a pioneer thing," she said, adding that while there are a number of books about ministers planting churches, there's not a similar source of information for their wives.
The Mooneys also have started churches in Claremore, Okla., and Little Rock, Ark.
Barry Mooney has not only planted churches himself, he served on the National EFCA Church Planting Team for several years and worked with pastors who were starting churches in South Africa, Kenya and Zambia as well as Mexico.
He also served as vice president of Crichton College in Memphis, Tenn. The Mooneys were associated with two large churches there and were experiencing some burnout.
"I was a pastor to pastors," he said, "spinning a lot of plates."
It was only when someone asked him what he would do if money was no object that Mooney realized he wanted to get back to planting churches himself. He makes it clear that Mountainview Community Church is not out to recruit members from other churches in town.
"Our focus is on the unchurched and dechurched (those who have left a church)," Barry Mooney said. "There are a lot of people who have a huge God-shaped hole in their lives here."
Mountainview's doors are open to everyone.
"We're pretty laid back," said Mooney, who often preaches in jeans. "I have a passion for teaching the Scriptures and believe that they are still relevant to daily life."
The Mooneys plan to remain here and start other churches using Durango as a base.