Birth And Rebirth
I was born in Green Bay, WI and raised in Waukesha, WI. My family regularly attended a large United Methodist church, but I did not hear the truth of Jesus until I was in 8th grade. It was then that our church hired a Southern Baptist youth pastor who eagerly and boldly shared the Gospel with us. I can remember where I was sitting as Bob told me about sin, death, eternal destination, and Jesusʼ atoning death and resurrection. I placed my faith in Jesus that day and began an adventure that has taken me places I never would have imagined.
After high school, I studied engineering at Hope College in Holland, MI. During my freshman year, I realized I was a lot more interested in the courses offered through the religion department than the physics/engineering department. I changed my major, though did not yet have a call to be a pastor. That summer, I served as an inner-city missionary in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. I returned a year later to volunteer again. My ministry experience these two summers birthed in me a calling to be a pastor, specifically, a youth pastor.
After graduating from college in 1996, I accepted a job as a youth pastor at a small, 150 year old church in Piqua, OH. While there, I participated in an 7 week, intensive, residential, youth ministry training course through Tentmakers Youth Ministry in Minnesota. I learned much about ministry during my 3 years in Piqua where I had my first experiences as a mission trip leader, international mission trip leader, and multi-church summer camp planner, among many other firsts. In addition to youth ministry, I started and lead an alternative worship service, bringing a worship band, casual atmosphere, and multimedia to a very traditional church. I also started a young adult ministry for the church/community. After my initial hire period of three years, I felt that God was calling me to serve in a less traditional setting that would better fit my talents and personality.
In Toledo, I served as the youth pastor at a large and growing church which was making the difficult transition from being traditionally styled and congregational led to contemporary styled and elder led. I also served as an interim worship leader for nine months as the church transitioned to a new style of worship.
On April 1st, 2001, I began serving as the first youth pastor of Ore Creek Community Church in Hartland, MI. Ore Creek was a two year old contemporary church plant that had not had a youth program. I had the privilege of building a ministry from scratch in a church that was eager to try new things to impact a community for Christ. I thoroughly enjoyed my time leading the student ministry of this congregation as God helped us grow to account for 40% of the congregation. Many former students are serving as or training to be full time missionaries, in part due to the heavy emphasis we placed on serving others at home and abroad.
While serving as the youth pastor at Ore Creek, I helped build, then led a thriving network of area youth pastors. We met twice a month to encourage, challenge, and support each other. We also worked together to provide the students of our county with some excellent events that we could not have done individually. A highlight came the winter of 2007, when 12 churches joined together for the first annual Livingston County winter retreat. What a joy it was to bring together 500+ students from varied church backgrounds for an awesome weekend of worship, learning, playing, and growing. I loved working with area pastors, sharing the joys and struggles of ministry and accomplishing things together that we could not have done apart.
At Ore Creek, I served as a staff elder and lead in many non-youth areas, functioning more as what would typically be an associate pastor role. After years of growth in youth ministry but not in the church as a whole, the elders asked me to step out of youth ministry in order to give more attention to the leadership needs of the entire church. Though I had been serving in areas normally associated with a lead pastor for a few years, in December of 2008, I began transitioning to my new official position as the Navigation Pastor. As Navigation Pastor, my chief goal was to serve as a navigator or guide to help move Ore Creek forward to the next stage of development. Specifically, I was asked to clearly define where we were as a church, where God was calling us to go, and guide us along the correct path to get us there.
As the Navigation Pastor, I...
- Provided leadership to our Elders.
- Hired and trained the next youth pastor.
- Organized multiple international and regional mission trips and projects.
- Lead the building and land team in the search for and negotiation of a permanent church facility.
- Lead the finance team in the design and implementation of our own stewardship/ fundraising campaign for a new facility, doing tasks that are typically contracted to an outside firm.
- Preached 18% of the Sundays, with intent to preach 50% by 2011.
- Served as a consultant, trainer, and overseer for various ministry areas including youth, young adult, children, worship arts, and technical arts.
- Worked with the elders to recast the vision of the church.
- Worked with the planning team and worship team to raise the level of excellence and creativity in the Sunday services.
Wesley Seminary and New Knoxville, OH
For the past two years, we have lived in my wife’s ancestral home of New Knoxville, OH. I have been a full-time seminary student at Wesley Seminary, part of Indiana Wesleyan University. I have worked part-time as a substitute teacher, fill-in preacher, handyman, and computer tech to pay the bills. We have used our freedom to participate in many different local bodies of the Church Universal, learning from and encouraging them. We are helping host and lead an unaffiliated “house church” of 25 people, and I am discipling a group of five young men. God has used this season of rest to grow us as a couple, a family, and individuals. As my schooling comes to an end, we are seeking what ministry God has for us. I feel that God is better equipping me to lead His people, wherever it is that He would have me serve next.