After almost ten years as a student pastor sandwiched around a small stint as a pastor of a small country church while I was studying at seminary, God changed me. And I mean really changed me. Up to that point, I had experienced what most would call a successful career in ministry. I was the golden child: freshly returned from seminary to be an associate pastor at the church I had grown up in, one of the largest churches in my hometown. Our student ministry had experienced pretty significant growth. I was baptizing students on a regular basis. By all measurements, things were going really well.
Then it happened. God opened my eyes. Things I had never noticed before were now at the forefront of my tunnel vision. A lot of those painful revelations concerned me personally: the level of comfort I had as a Christian and as a pastor, the complete lack of sacrifice I experienced, the amount of time and money I was wasting.
But one major revelation was more outwardly focused. I started to see that there were a number of people in our city that many of our current churches really weren’t set up to effectively reach. Our programs and events were largely intended to get people into the doors of the church. But I started to realize that there was a big chunk of our populace that would never step foot into the doors of a church in order to be affected by those programs and events. We were missing a huge number of people in our city, and we weren’t really doing a whole lot about it.
So I started thinking. Dangerous, I know. I wondered how we as a church could change in order to reach that group of people. My first thought was that we needed to change our approach. Get rid of the attractional approach that only reaches a small group of people. But then I realized that this would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If we as a church completely changed, then we would stop being effective with the group who was presently responding to our methodology.
That’s when God changed me. He showed me the solution wasn’t completely changing our present churches, but rather adding to them. Not adding another program or a different event. But adding a completely new church to reach a completely different type of people. I had come to the difficult truth that there are some people that are never going to respond to a First Baptist Anywhere. But they might respond to a different church. It was at that revelation that God made me a church-planter.
So I enlisted some help, and we did it. We started a church completely from scratch. And now I have the great privilege of serving as one of the pastors of The Vineyard, a church dedicated to seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel. It’s been a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.