You pastored several small churches in rural areas. What did you take away from those experiences that you’re still using today?
Ministry is ministry. I always look back on those experiences and remember that I love ministry. I love the privilege of working with people and walking with them and teaching them and being taught by them. So ministry to me, I learned this early on, is not about the number of people you’re ministering to or the size of the church. I always tell people this because we’re so infatuated with size as the measurement of our success. It’s really about who you do ministry with and doing it for the glory of God. And whether you’re doing it for 50 or for 500 or for 20,000 people, I would say if you can’t find contentment ministering to 50, you’re probably not going to be content doing it for 20,000.
How do you measure Central Christian’s success?
Measuring movement is probably our greatest indicator of overall church health. How many people are going through a process and not only coming to faith but then getting baptized. And not only getting baptized but growing in their faith. And not only growing in their faith in a group but then serving the community and passing on their faith. We are just really intentional about that pathway and seeing people truly realize who they are to God.
That’s a powerful discovery for anyone. When did you first really understand how God sees you?
I think there is this macro identity that we have as believers, as one in Christ. And the macro level means that I’m a saint because I have His righteousness already. I’m a priest already. I’m a servant, I’m loved, I’m forgiven in Christ. So obviously when God sees us, He sees us at a macro level (in Christ).
But beyond that, for me, coming out of addiction, it really scars you. You do things and you say things, for sometimes years, that you just deeply regret. And I had such a twisted image of myself. Part of the reason I worked with the homeless and part of the reason I was doing everything I could do to follow God—some of it was really a false motivation of trying to earn God’s approval and His love. A lot of it was driven by this thought that, Man, I have made so many mistakes; it’s going to take a lot to make up for all of this. So for me, realizing that I was as truly loved as I was and that God had gifted me at the macro level was huge. But at the micro level, it was about discovering the unique identity and gifts that He had given me. I know that my strongest spiritual gift is evangelism. And for whatever reason, God has just wired me up to help people find their way home.
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