City Guide: Phoenix

Matthew ThompsonBy Matthew ThompsonJune 26, 201911 Minutes

As you drive through Phoenix, it's hard to miss the fact that there's a church on every corner. Yet somehow the city has consistently ranked high on major lists as one of the least churched places in America. A quick Google search will give you over 318 churches to choose from, but finding ones that are connecting with this generation can be challenging. On top of that, more and more millennials are moving into town who tend to be disinterested with church, which has changed the culture of the city. You might identify as you’re reading this. Maybe church feels irrelevant to you. Maybe you're resistant to the idea of exploring church. Or maybe you're even on the other end, searching for community, but finding little success. During our time in Phoenix, we discovered something that is breaking down walls and changing the way that people view the church. We invite you to taste and see what we found: a beautiful new movement of churches that are creating an environment for you to have a personal encounter with God.

The fastest growing church in Arizona

In 2014, Generation Church in Mesa experienced a major turnaround as Ryan Visconti took over as lead pastor. A former army officer, Ryan is one of the youngest pastors in the area and has helped build a vibrant community at Generation In terms of preaching style, he is witty, confident and full of charisma. His preaching incorporates lots of scripture and in doing so, he approaches each topic with sensitivity, especially heavy ones. One of our favorite series from him is “Swipe Righteous”, where he tackled love, sex and relationships. This made a major impact both in the congregation and with online viewers.

Now with over 2,200 regular attendees, Generation has become the fastest growing church in Arizona over the past two years. A huge part of that community has invested in serving on Sundays, as over 300+ people lend a hand across both locations. One member said they were “skeptical to try a new church”, but that the minute they entered the parking lot they knew “this church was different”. Another said that the “first time I’ve felt God’s presence” was at Generation Church. You'll feel this as you walk into the building, as there's a genuine sense of Christ-like hospitality, which carries on into a powerful worship experience.

A pioneer in Phoenix

One of the pioneers in reaching this generation in the city was Hillsong. Originally called City of Grace, the church became part of the global Hillsong movement in 2016 when it rebranded as Hillsong Phoenix. Over the past few years, their community has grown across the metro area. They now have campuses in Downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and Mesa. With people from all ages, races and backgrounds, one member called it one of the most “diverse churches I’ve ever been to”.

One thing that you’ll find to be incredibly refreshing at Hillsong is the genuine sense of vulnerability and realness that comes straight down from the pastors. We had the chance to see their lead pastor Terry Crist speak at the Hillsong Conference last year, in which he touched thousands of people in the room as he shared his experience with panic attacks. The message was especially timely in the midst of our generational struggle with mental health.

Pastor Terry Crist, Hillsong Phoenix

Hillsong Phoenix is also passionate about reaching the city and committed to fighting core issues like slavery, poverty and hunger, while also investing efforts in foster care programs. In addition to partnering with nonprofits in the area, they also have plenty of ways to get plugged in if you’re looking to get involved with any of these causes.

A21 Freedom Walk to end slavery, Phoenix

Taking the next step

Whether you haven't been to church in ten years or you would call yourself a disciple of Jesus, these churches provide a wide array of opportunities for you to explore the next step in your spiritual walk.  If you take the time to invest in this process of getting plugged in at one of these places, you'll find so much beauty on the other side. Not only will you be surrounded with a community of people to do life with, but the experience has the potential to radically alter the way you view God.

Browse churches in Phoenix