Dennis & Lochie Opitz

Making a Big Church Feel Small

Dennis and Lochie Opitz have been a part of the Doxology Family since 1985. In their 33 years of membership, they have seen the church undergo many changes, but their heart has stayed consistent: to see others connect with Christ, to foster deep community, and to invest in the lives of their community and the next generation. Nearly a decade ago, Dennis and Lochie helped foster an ABF known as Vantage Point, a Sunday Morning class for seniors ages 60 and older designed to serve as an on-ramp to deeper community. Through their leadership, along with many other members of the Doxology Family, Vantage Point has modeled the church’s mission to develop Christ-centered people who make a difference by Connecting with Christ, Transforming in Community, and Engaging their World.  

Five years ago, Dennis’ sister was diagnosed with leukemia, and the situation seemed hopeless. Through tears, Dennis recalls, “My sister could not even lift her little finger. They were counting every breath as if it could be her last.” But through all the pain and uncertainty, Vantage Point rallied around the Opitzes. Lochie says, “The class prayed for us consistently. Every Sunday, somebody would always ask how she was doing. The class was so supportive during that period of time.” Dennis’ brother-in-law started a blog to give updates on his sister’s condition, and the Vantage Point community followed the updates closely. Soon, the news began to contain more and more positive updates: Dennis’ sister’s condition was improving! Much to everyone’s delight, she paid Vantage Point a visit after she was released from the hospital to meet the community that had relentlessly supported her in prayer. Lochie says, “This isn’t just about us- a lot of people in the class have gone through tough times. The people are consistently making hospital visits to friends, bringing meals, and supporting each other in prayer.”

About a year and a half ago, Nate Gustafson, the student pastor at Doxology Bible Church, spoke to the class about ways they could play mentorship roles in the lives of high school students at Doxology as a part of Doxology's vision to launch the next generation’s spiritual heroes. Following Nate’s message, members of the class were invited to sit around tables in the Hub and visit with some of the high school students to begin developing relationships. Dennis and Lochie met a girl named Cassandra: a high school senior who was preparing to transition into the US Coast Guard. They exchanged prayer requests, and Dennis and Lochie committed to pray for Cassandra throughout the next year. As Cassandra faced the challenges of basic training, Dennis and Lochie kept in regular contact with her through email and supported her in prayer. To this day, they continue to touch base with Cassandra even as she is across the country. Dennis says, “This could end up being a life-long connection developed out of a one-Sunday meeting in the Hub. We want her to have someone to come back to when she returns to our church, and we’re glad she at least knows us.” The Opitzes weren’t alone. Many members of Vantage Point answered the call to invest in the lives of the next generation. Chris Freeland says, “It’s really been extraordinary to watch. Dennis and Lochie, and a host of other couples from Vantage Point have made the decision to lean-in to the next generation rather than just “leaving it” to them. They’re ensuring that the next generation of spiritual heroes won’t be launched by accident.” It is not unusual to walk past the H101 classroom on Sunday mornings, where Vantage Point meets, and find students hanging out outside the door- waiting to catch class members to update them on their lives.

For the Opitzes, Vantage Point has been a way make a big church feel small. It has provided an opportunity to share struggles, be known, and push others in their age group to continue engaging their world. Dennis says, “There is no comparison between someone who simply goes to the service on Sunday mornings and then leaves versus someone who connects to a community in the church. It’s not the same, it’s not even CLOSE to the same.”