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Mission Community Church - Gilbert, AZ


Mission Community Church began as Superstition Springs Community Church (SSCC), and after a year of meeting in the home of a member, it held its first public services in the gym of a local high school on October 1, 1995. The church was planted by a group of people from Sun Valley Community Church, with the blessing and assistance from the congregation.

After ten years of meeting in the high school, the church was able to open doors at its current location in Gilbert. In 2005, SSCC hired its second lead pastor after a medical condition made it impossible for the founding lead pastor to continue.

The new lead pastor, Mark Connelly, introduced a personality-driven growth approach that was fueled by a vision bent toward social justice. Under this new vision and strategy, SSCC began to experience rapid numerical growth. By 2008, the church had undergone a branding and renaming process and formally became known as MISSION. At the same time, the church began to raise funds to expand its campus to support the large crowds coming each week.

In Late 2010, MISSION opened its doors to its new worship center and other campus buildings, and growth continued until its peak average adult attendance of 4,800 in 2013. That same year, the church launched a capital campaign to raise funds to build another campus in the far East Valley.

In late 2013, MISSION experienced a leadership transition when the Lead Pastor was forced to resign because of a moral failure.

The search process for the next Lead Pastor begin in early 2014, while the church was still reeling from the fallout. Eventually, in December of 2014, the Board of Servant Leaders announced Joel Thomas as the next Lead Pastor at MISSION. Joel came from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, and brought 16 years of experience in large church leadership.

Within six months, MISSION's vision and strategy had changed as Joel introduced the vision of becoming a church that the next generation and neighbors would find "irresistible."

During the pandemic, MISSION quickly pivoted online due to reduced staff and scope of ministry. Online attendance and engagement outperformed national averages, and the staff leveraged this time to innovate and develop new areas of ministry.

In August of 2021, Joel Thomas announced that he was accepting a position in the Atlanta area at Buckhead Church. After a healthy transition and sending off, the Board of Servant Leaders began searching for a Lead Teaching Pastor.


Our mission...

Is to point people to Jesus.

Our vision...

Is to be a community of broken people, being transformed by Jesus and generously loving our neighbors and the next generation.

Our church values...

Radical inclusivity

Biblical teaching

Authentic life change

Our staff values...

Are being humble, hungry, and smart.

At Mission Community Church our key distinctives are really built on what God is doing here as opposed to strategic distinctions.

We have a healthy culture in our staff that permeates into the church body and creates a place where people feel welcomed. We’ve baptized ex-prostitutes followed by ex-Mormons and everyone in between.

We believe Jesus changes everything FOR EVERYONE, and that’s evidenced by those who feel safe and cared for when coming onto our campus.


Our previous Lead Pastor, Joel Thomas, was asked to be a high-level communicator and a high-level organizational leader. A few years ago, a shift was made that allowed him to focus on teaching first and to lead from a vision standpoint which resulted in Joel improving as a teacher/communicator.

Joel was big on trust and humility, which helped spark a necessary culture shift in our staff.

In this current season, the Board of Servant Leaders, staff, and the congregation are all moving in the same direction and understanding as a Mesa Model of ministry leadership is created and experienced.

In this "Mesa Model," there is no longer one peak, a leader at the top of the organizational chart. This staffing structure points to a team, not an individual.

There is room for 2 or 3 senior leaders in this structure who all live and lead out of their specific lane, gifts, strengths, and talents.

Mesa Model Distinctive's...

1. It is built on principles, more than a personality.

2. It rises and falls on trust.

3. It provides dexterity for a team in transition.

4. It recognizes that everyone can point to the lead and the lead constantly points to the other leads. (Jesus and his disciples)

5. It disperses the bullseye on any single lead person.

6. The best idea wins.

7. Consensus counts. 

8. True inter-dependence is expressed inwardly and outwardly realizing we “could not” do what we do without each other.

9. It embraces the biggest fan mindset.

10. It allows leaders to disagree privately, and remain on the same page publicly.

11. It has clearly defined roles and leadership lanes.

12. Someone is in a circle.

The circle in this Mesa Model is the person who facilitates and guides this top layer of executive leadership.

MISSION is now seeking a senior leader to join this expression of organization, and to assume the Lead Teaching Pastor role.


West Coast vibes on a desert campus and everyone is welcome.

When you first step foot on our campus or engage with our digital environments, you will be hit with the tagline "FOR EVERYONE." The idea that "Jesus changes everything for everyone" is one that bleeds into everything we do so that both churched and unchurched people feel like they can belong here.

You won't see robes and flags, overt Christian symbolism, or banners with scripture references on them anywhere on our campus. We've opted to go with movie theater seats instead of pews and cornhole boards instead of AWANA circles in our courtyard.

We have banned the use of the Papyrus font and paper bulletins because we value high-quality design and good taste in our production, and communications.

There is nothing wrong with those things, they just aren't us.

We want our environments to match the secular spaces that new guests and regular attendees are familiar with because we know that when people are familiar with something, they feel SAFE.

A common story we hear from people is that they never thought they would be "accepted or allowed" at church and that breaks our hearts. Because of this, we make sure our campus culture is laid back, welcoming, and has something for everyone. We have found that this kind of culture is the breeding ground for strong relationships, new connections, and courageous steps of faith.

A big driver of our campus culture is our staff culture. Having a healthy staff culture has made us more efficient and unified, something that trickles down through our volunteers and is evident in our recent "Best Christian Workplaces" certification.

For the next generation.

Our Next Generation environments are centered around groups. Every kid up through high school will experience close community with other kids their same age and a bunch of leaders who care about them.

It is a common scene to have an entire elementary-aged small group walking into a Sunday service together to cheer on one of their buddies getting baptized.

Yeah, it may seem disruptive but we love it.

Making an impact.

Compassion and generosity are on display everywhere, both online and on campus. From annually funding the orphan feeding program for an entire regional ministry in Malawi to locking arms with dozens of local organizations to provide for vulnerable families in our community, our church never backs away from an opportunity to make an impact.

It's not only in our history, it's in our DNA.

We are for everyone because Jesus is for everyone and at the heart of our culture is a simple, focused desire to point all people to Him.

In a world where churches are increasingly being known for what they are against, we are known for what we are FOR.


MISSION sits in the middle of one of the most affluent parts of the state. Gilbert is majority white, the upper-middle-class with an average household income above $100k.

The area is growing ethnically and economically diverse, with single-parent households being the fastest growing home type in the area. Generally speaking, our church demographic reflects our area. Our target audience persona is an upper middle class, college-educated family with multiple school-aged children at home.

The Phoenix metro area is known as "The Valley" for our amazing weather, golf courses, food scene, and retirement communities. Within an hour's drive of our campus, you have access to world-famous hiking, five major professional sports venues, Native American ruins, a top university, and some of the best golf courses in the Southwest.

A few hours further away, you will find beaches or ski resorts, depending on the direction you are headed.

Our location is distinct in that we have a great campus in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, and there are fields all around us that will be homes and businesses that God will use to bring even more people literally to our doorstep.


The biggest challenge will be settling into the new model. We have never been organized in this structure before, and there is a vibe that some people are anticipating a lead pastor to come in and "lead us to the promised land".

The biggest opportunity for the Lead Teaching Pastor will be joining a talented and unified team that is already taking new ground and growing.