The Church for People Who Don't Do Church
The Genesis Project was birthed out of a belief that Jesus is not just for the religious. Founded as the "Church for People Who Don’t Do Church", The Genesis Project seeks to reach people that have been burnt out or disenfranchised with organized religion and present them with the love and wholeness that Jesus offers to EVERYONE.
Matt Roberts, Lead Pastor of the Genesis Project, was raised in church and while he found comfort and purpose here, he had a lot of friends who were “outsiders” and for whom the church was not a safe place. It became a life mission to be a part of a transforming church where no one would feel like the outsider.
The Mars Hill Project
In 2005, Matt together with his wife Candice and their boys moved to Utah to start such a church. They began the Mars Hill Project in a small coffee shop space on 17th street in Ogden, Utah. The coffee shop has always been a central element of this Ogden ministry, as it symbolizes a place where everybody belongs. Kyle and Holly Hill came on board the team early on to run the coffee shop.
The Mars Hill Project grew rapidly during the first year and soon outgrew their space. At the same time, another church plant across town was growing too. Life Song Church, pastored by Jeff Hummel was running out of room in their building. Matt and Jeff were bonded with a vision to reach Ogden for Jesus. In early 2007, they combined congregations, rented a larger warehouse space on 20th street and the Genesis Project was born.
The name Genesis Project was chosen because Genesis means New Beginnings. And Project, because our job as Jesus followers is never done. There are always more darkness, more hurt, more people who need to be reached with the love of Jesus.
GP, as it is lovingly called, was in this warehouse space for about two years. With only three toilets in the whole building, it was soon apparent that this new church of 350 people was outgrowing its space. In 2009, GP moved to an old Gold’s Gym building on 12th street and Washington Blvd, a major intersection in our town. This was the Genesis Project and Salt Rock Coffee home for over 6 years. During this time, Pastor Jeff moved back to his home state of Louisiana to pursue God’s calling on his life in his hometown and Pastor Matt continued to pastor the GP congregation in Ogden.
It wasn’t long before the old gym was getting too small as well. The ministry was flourishing, but pressed by both a lack of space and an ever increasing rental market. The Genesis Project was reaching a diverse crowd of people, those coming out of addiction and incarceration — as well as entrepreneurs and business women and men, most of those who call the GP home were first-generation Christians unaccustomed to tithing and giving in a sustainable fashion. GP didn’t want people to feel like they had to pay to be a part of church, nor was it a part of the GP vision to raise money in a “high pressure” way. There had to be a better way to meet their calling.
Pastor Matt reached out to Dan Cook, a long time friend. Dan is an architect and founder of Building God’s Way, LLC, an architectural company that focuses on Kingdom of God Building services. Dan had recently remodeled an old Coca-Cola factory, branded it HUB 801 and was running it as an events center. But his ultimate vision was to see the event center be used for ministry. He wanted a church to run the business as a self-sustaining ministry. This was a sustainable model that The Genesis Project could get behind. After a lot of prayer, the Genesis Project moved again to its current home at HUB 801 on 35th and Riverdale Road. Hub 801 runs as an event center, whenever it is not being used by the church. This has allowed The Genesis Project to thrive as a place of hope and peace in the city of Ogden through missional entrepreneurship and enterprise.
A Heart of Belonging
Since its inception, the Genesis Project has been a church in the community and for the community. It has been a church for the outsider, for the marginalized. It has been a church that preaches the love of Jesus with no strings attached. Moving forward, these will be things that continue to define the ministry of the Genesis Project. GP remains a Church for the people of Ogden looking for a place to belong and a higher purpose that can only come from a Big God!