This is a long story, but if you’re in need of a boost in your faith, this will do the job. It’s a great story…
I currently serve as a non-ordained associate pastor at Stonybrook United Methodist Church in Gahanna, OH and am early in the process of ordination.
My grandmother, who was the most influential person in my life, served as a layspeaker in her United Methodist congregation when I was a child. When the pastor was away, she gave the sermons. So, my exposure to Methodism began at birth.
When I graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, OH in 2001, I moved to Kansas City to serve in a church. I had sought the position, and a professor told me that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and that it would put me on the “fast track” in our denomination.
I had been involved in a new church plant in my hometown of Marion, OH prior to moving, however, and I was not prepared for the transition into an established, denominational church. The experience at the church was disappointing, and I actually resigned on the morning of 9/11.
In our weekly Tuesday staff meeting, a pastor who was periodically leaving the room to listen to the radio reports came back and told us that the Pentagon had just been struck. Then, it was my turn to speak and turn in my resignation.
2001 had already been a difficult year for me. In February, I had a falling out with the church planting pastor with whom I had been serving. He had taken me under his wing when I was 19 and allowed me to be his right hand man in the church plant.
The church grew to 500 weekly attendees in five years in a town of 35,000 people. Lives were changed, and I sensed a call to church planting. His character was questionable, however. He was manipulative and less than honest, and I left the church in February 2001. One year later, he was let go from the church for indiscretion.
Then, one month later, in March 2001, I went through a broken engagement. My new fiancé and I had been dating for two years and got engaged in December. Needless to say, it was very painful and emotionally draining experience. That spring, I graduated from college and moved to Kansas City.
Following my resignation from the church on 9/11, my life had fallen apart. Words cannot express the despair that I felt. I had lost both my mentor and my best friend/fiancé and also what was supposed to be a promising start to my ministry career.
I longed to be part of a growing, dynamic church in which new persons were experiencing God’s grace. I felt profoundly alone, alone not only in my personal life but in my dreams for ministry, as well. Ministry felt like such a fight when I knew that it did not have to be.
I knew that it was possible for a church to be relevant to the culture and a community in which non-religious people could encounter the Christ of Scripture in a life-transforming way. I just felt a million miles from a church like that.
One of the greatest blessings of my life, however, is that I was actually only a few miles away. Around that time, I had already heard more than one person mention this church called Church of the Resurrection. I wondered what this church was about that would cause such word of mouth discussion.
The final straw came when I overheard two ladies in a grocery store talking about the church. I thought, “What kind of church is this that I hear about it in the cereal aisle?”
(To be continued… I’ll post part 2 soon.)