The last place I ever thought I'd end up is a pastor of a church. It wasn't a childhood dream of mine, actually quite the opposite. A meandering journey has led me to where I am today, and I find myself thankful and humbled by Jesus' grace and call.
I was born as one of six kids in the small town of Troy, Montana, where the total population is 950 (the size of an average service at our Ballard Campus). When I was ten my family moved to Missoula, Montana so that the organization my father co-founded
could be located in a larger town and closer to an airport, as he was starting to travel a fair amount. I lived there in Missoula for the remainder of my childhood.
My story of salvation is similar to many that would have called themselves a Christian but have no fruit in their lives and no real relationship with Jesus. I lived for myself and my own desires and passions, which more closely resembled the name of my high school, Hellgate High School, than they did the Bible. My life was on a path headed for the gates of hell: I was worshipping myself as the lord of the universe.
I graduated from Hellgate without much ambition and began attending the University of Montana in search of a business degree. I basically wanted to do whatever was the quickest route to making me a millionaire so I could spend the rest of my life doing whatever I wanted. I attended college until, at the age of nineteen (which was over ten years ago), Jesus called me to Seattle. Through the influence of my older brother and sister already living in Seattle, I made the move and began attending church with my sister and her husband, who were a part of the core group that helped plant Mars Hill. Both my siblings are Christians who have loved me well and prayed for me often. I describe my first year in Seattle as a year of life-detox. There was no profound moment that I remember trusting in Jesus, but over the course of that year I began to understand my sin and understand His grace, and slowly my life began to transform through understanding the Bible, Pastor Mark's teaching, and my new friendships that went deeper than Schmidt's beer for once in my life.
Mars Hill Church is dear to my heart and represents for me the beginning and fulfillment of a life with Jesus. He has blessed me beyond comprehension, having given me His salvation, my beautiful wife Crystal, our four children, and my job, serving as the Lead Pastor. My life could easily be described similarly those found in 1 Corinthians
: I really have nothing to boast about in and of myself, but I have much to boast about in Jesus.
I've been on staff with Mars Hill for nearly nine years and have literally gotten to do a little bit of everything here as I've seen the staff grow from five to almost one hundred. It has been a real gift to see Jesus' hand on our church and his continued faithfulness to Mars Hill. In the words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 3:1
, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
We use this language often in describing the different seasons we've experienced since the church was planted. There have been many seasons, most of which are marked by our need to continually adjust our structure and systems to respond to the growth. This is not unlike my wife and I since we've gotten married, had our first child and another and another and another. How our family functioned with one child had to change and adapt as we've been blessed with a second, third, and fourth. The purpose and mission of our family stays the same, but the way we function on a day-to-day basis must change. A growing discipline for the elders of Mars Hill Church must be to lead and shepherd the people of Mars Hill as we experience this growth and change.
It is my heart's desire and calling to follow Jesus faithfully and to help build an army of faithful Christians who love and steward well the relationships and resources that Jesus has blessed them with. We have much work to do, but I am thankful for the opportunity to play a part in building this particular family within Jesus' church.
You can see Jesus' humor in calling me to the city of Seattle from Montana, where most of my astute cultural training and preparation for Seattle's culture came from the local grocery store. Can you picture this in Fremont? Not exactly PETA-friendly: