At age 8 my family moved to Kentucky from Indiana. A lady across the street put me on a visitation list at her local church. Soon afterward, two young guys came by and shared the gospel with my family. I became a Christian.
I began attending that same church every time it opened its doors. I went by myself, as my parents never took faith very seriously. We moved multiple times but I continued to go to church on my own. It was many a new town where I looked in the phone book, called a local church and asked if they had a bus to pick me up.
During high school a friend asked me to visit his church and later go to church camp. Camp had an amazing effect on me. When we got back I instituted Bible studies at our high school and the junior high school, that I led in the mornings on alternate days. It was during this time I began preaching, even speaking at age 16 at a jail during a visit from our church camp.
At 18 I entered Bible college and immediately began preaching and doing youth ministry in various churches near Cincinnati in the early 90's.
After a few years, I left college and attempted to enter "normal life" working in my home town. Professional ministry seemed to have very little to do with the church of the New Testament, so I decided it was not for me. God though, still seemed to have a calling for my life and because my co workers kept telling me "you should be a preacher" I looked into it again.
At that time, a local church was looking for a preacher so I took their interim position as they searched. I was actually offered the position, but I declined (though I did stay). As an associate I helped them reach a stable size.
So with their encouragement I finally took a full time position with a church. After a short time the attendance doubled and we were able to add a youth minister and a music leader. On paper it appeared very successful but this ministry possessed deep seeded divisions. Looking back, I didn't have the experience to handle the rapid growth and the generational factions within the church.
Next I took a "break" and began a house church. Those who attended claimed they grew more in that time than the decades spent in their former traditional churches. It was a great experience. There was no staff, no sermonizing, no bands or technology, just a handful of people that began filling houses on a weekly basis. We had children through seniors worshiping in our services, youth Bible studies at the mall food court, and baptisms at the lake. Never before or since have I ever felt like more of an evangelist than those days, but alas, I had to move as money for a growing family became paramount!
We went to Ohio to a church that had only a few core families. After some growth and our first baptism the small churched doubled in attendance. A youth group was formed and things started progressing. During this time, I developed a poor sleeping condition due to sinus congestion that required me to get warmer and lose some weight. Each winter I was there the condition seemed to get worse.
This led to a ministry in Arizon working with the Apache Nation as a Bible Teacher. We really liked our actual jobs but this ministry's leadership had many inherent problems that it refused to address. We like so many others left out of protest, because if things didn't change kids were going to get hurt. Not long after some kids did. We pray for this organization. That God will reform it or shut it down.
We needed a place to live, as we were technically homeless. So God helped us to meet a wonderful church in Illinois. We were out of job for less than one month! Even though this was rushed, it has been a wonderful fit. We came into a church that was more established; not needing to be rebuilt as much as just being unleashed. We have had a few baptisms this year and are doing lots in the community. We are renovating the auditorium and organizing its outreaches. Probably my best experience so far in ministry.
I have a long term goal to move back south, either to the dry humid areas of the southwest or the ocean coast. Mainly, just to have milder winters will do the trick as both have their advantages.
We will have to see what opportunities develop, but we are thankful for how well things are going now.