My husband and I went to the services here for several months solid in early 2012. After spending many years not involved with church and living "in the world", we both decided it was time to change things. Our first experience was nice. The pastor came over to us and chatted for a few minutes. During the service, we wondered where all the young people were. As a young couple in our early 30s, we definitely wanted to connect with some other people our age, but it seemed like everything from the music to the sermon to the general tone of the place were geared more toward the older set. That's fine, but seemed a little odd for a large church with placement right next to the Broncos Stadium and so close to downtown. We expected things to be a bit different. We filled out the communication card and decided to come back the next week to try again.
This time we tried the later service time, but it was the same. The following Wednesday we received a message on our answering machine from the pastor saying he had been happy to meet us and would keep calling until he reached us. He never called again. But, we continued going to the services.
Finally, we got in touch with two of the young adult ministers and even had lunch with them and their wives. They were nice enough, but had all grown up in the church, then gone off to Christian colleges, and then all got jobs within the church. Again, this seemed an odd choice of staffing due to the fact that the church seems to really be into outreach in the downtown area. Not that these folks don't do a good job, but it's can sometimes be difficult to connect with people who haven't at least partially been in your shoes. I openly shared parts of my story and felt incredibly judged. Maybe it was just me, but even my husband said he felt extremely uncomfortable because we weren't in the same "religious class." It was clear these ministers hadn't really "been there" and couldn't quite grasp the outside world. We left the lunch feeling a little strange and never heard from any of the ministers or their wives again.
The last service we attended was one in which Pastor Jim seemed to be on a mission to make everyone in the place feel very guilty. I understand that Baptist pastors "have" to give these types of sermons, but as someone who grew up in a strict Southern Baptist household I can also say these sermons are SO unhealthy. That's one of the reason why I stopped going to church. Constantly being told you are a bad person and not good enough is hard on a young person..and adults too! And my husband, who did not grow up in this type of environment, was completely turned off by the sermon and refused to go back to "that church." I didn't blame him.
I had such high hopes for this place, but hate to say that it fell very short. From our experience, it seemed as though Riverside is more concerned with keeping its current members happy, but not as concerned with reaching out to new people that need a loving, REAL church home. We haven't gone to church since and I'm not sure how long it will take for us to repair from this experience.