DEFINING MOMENTS IN MY LIFE AS A CHURCH PLANTER

I recently read this post by my friend Ben Arment. He always inspires me so I decided to copycat his post with a little twist. There have been some defining moments in my life that have stair stepped me toward church planting and looking back I can see God using each one in different small ways. I think this is important because recently I realized how important it is that we have moments and people who green light our dreams of what God is putting on our heart and tell us we aren’t crazy. If you are reading this, let it encourage your dream.

  • When I was 11, the student pastor I looked up to at my church announced he was going to plant a church. I still remember sitting in the room as he told what the process and timeline would look like. I remember the concept resonating with my heart even at that early age.
  • Also when I as young I remember the Boehm family coming through my church on a Sunday night and talking about their desire to plant Western Reserve Grace Church. Not just that night but I got to watch them and their family, church, and ministry as it grew in our district.
  • I remember Mike Jentes (who I thought invented sliced bread because he introduced me to DC Talk) coming back to our home church and talking about his church planting effort (The Quest) in Columbus, Ohio.
  • I remember going on Operation Barnabas and our team having time with Jim Brown as he explained what was essentially a re-launch of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana.
  • That same summer I remember being captivated by what God was doing in and through Dan Gregory at Community of Hope in Columbia City, Indiana. Dan shared how when he came on the church was 15 people and was meeting in a double-wide trailer.
  • As I committed to full-time Christian ministry and was leaving for college and also formulating my life I remember processing to Kristin that I saw myself in student ministry and than planting a church someday. We actually had the conversation that if she wasn’t on board we weren’t for each other….God made her a perfect fit.
  • I remember when Ron Boehm started working in church planting and having he and Chery take Kristin and I out for ice cream the week of the missions conference at Grace College and explain the process and nuts and bolts of really planting a church. I told him that I wanted him to keep bothering me about church planting. I told him I could say not to him but no to God.
  • I remember interning at Wooster Grace and being sent on a ministry trip to help Clancy Cruise launch Marysville Grace and seeing first hand what it looked like in the early stages from ground level. I would stay in touch with Clancy through seminary.
  • I remember coming to Grace Church knowing they had planted Marysville Grace and meeting pastor Ed Jackson and for the first time knowing his heart, his story, and his passion for planting…wow!
  • Kristin tells me I came home from Catalyst in 2008 and said beyond a shadow of a doubt God wants us to 1) adopt and 2) plant a church.
  • I remember many long talks with Sean Spoelstra about planting and the call I felt on my life. When he left in 2008 to plant a church, he always joked with me that he was living my dream.
  • I remember Sean taking me to a church planters gathering in 2011 in Kansas City where I felt amongst peers.
  • I remember sharing my heart with Terry Hofecker, Tony Webb, and Ron Boehm again all at my house, testing the water and seeing if God wanted us to act in the spring of 2011.
  • August of 2011 we were assessed as church planters at the urging of Tony, Terry, Ron and Vision Ohio, and if nothing else it was a time for Kristin and I to realize that God was doing this in our hearts and our life timeline and we just needed to get on board.
  • In September of 2011 Encounter Church’s elders asked us to consider planting a church and it was a formality because looking back god had been preparing me since 1994. But they were the ones that gave us the blessing to dream and drive stake in the ground.
  • Since September in these last few months, we have had friends, families, and churches who have also said we don’t think you are crazy, in fact we believe in you enough to give you money to see this happen.

What are the defining moments of your dream?

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LAST HSM WEDNESDAY NIGHT MIND DUMP

  • Tonight was my last normal HSM Wednesday night during a school year.
  • We will have some bonfire Bible studies this summer but those aren’t the same and you never know who will be at what.
  • The whole night was surreal since I am not leaving tomorrow, but in many ways it was the end of programming.
  • I did some math and I think I have done somewhere close to 196 Wednesday nights over 7 years.
  • I’ve never wanted our ministry to be about me and I hoped tonight was no different. I tried to go about things normal and I think it went well.
  • There some welcomed interruptions though and Josh, Sarah, Kristin and I felt honored.
  • Our students made photo books behind our backs and they are awesome and really a perfect gift that I can always look back on.
  • Sam Moore also wrote a celebratory verse for me to kick the night off. I told him that was the moment I knew we had lived out II Timothy 2:2 and my hip hop work here was done.
  • I thought about my final lesson for a long time and settled on II Corinthians 5. We talked about the fact that Christ’s love should compel us and we should reproduce ourselves (people, as leaders, and churches).
  • I ended the night with some stuff that I think every outgoing person needs to say to honor the person coming in.  I had a different situation since Kary Oberbrunner wasn’t going anywhere when I came, but nonetheless he was nothing but gracious and set me up for success. I want the same thing for Seth and hopefully I began setting the table these last few weeks.
  • Like I said I didn’t want to night to be focused on me transitioning because I am not the body of Christ and ministry or the church doesn’t revolve around me. I do want to thank many great people who deserve it, so Delores, Jim, Kelly, Heather, and many student leaders will be getting some incredibly sappy handwritten cards in the next few months.
  • Tomorrow my day to day stuff switches up in many ways. I now go into summer trip/conference/camp mode and begin setting the table for transitions in t-minus 75 days.