#1 – Why did you start AS IS Church?
I had a vision of a church that was safe for hurting, wounded, and unchurched people. I had a clear calling to communicate the gospel in way that makes sense to people who didn’t grow up in church. My heart broke (and continues to break) for hurting, marginalized, and less fortunate people. I believed the only answer to real and permanent change is a relationship with Jesus. I wanted to create a church where the people I cared about could meet Him and eventually begin bringing their friends (usually unchurched). I was desperate to see other people experience what I had experienced by following Jesus.
#2 – Where did you start AS IS Church?
AS IS Church began in my heart. I shared that vision with Gwenna and a group of friends where we were leading a bible study. In the winter of 2011 a church was birthed in a living room. No money. No staff. No mother church. No church planting organization financially backing our plan. It was simple: We would follow the same path as our Lord Jesus: He would take a rag tag group of ordinary people and send us out to change the world! Matthew 28:18-20
#3 – How did you start AS IS Church?
I prayed. I asked Gwenna if we were ready. I searched for three mentors that I could submit to: Dr. Ron Clark, Dr. Ted Roberts, and Mr. Andre Iseli. These men still speak into my life today. I asked others to commit and lead in areas of ministry. We launched the church on Easter of 2012 while I worked for Verizon Communications. The first year I worked 50-60 hours a week in my secular position while leading the church bi-vocationally. It was not easy but worth the kingdom investment.
#4 – How did you become a Pastor?
God changed my life and I became a Pastor because He called me to be a Pastor. It is not because I am really smart or highly educated. God has equipped me because I am called – He didn’t call me because I am equipped. My ministry was birthed out of my story. I led restoration and recovery ministries for close to 12 years. Gwenna and I helped plant a church in Sunnyside. We were with Abundant Life Church for 8 years – several of which I was on staff as a Pastor. I was blessed to attend the Oregon College of Ministry in the early 2000’s, trained as a certified Genesis Process counselor, member of Pure Desire’s Mentoring Team, various taining events/certifications, and personal mentoring by highly influential leaders. With that being said, on numerous occasions I feel inadequate and too broken to lead well, and God keeps reminding me that He is the one in charge and I am to follow His lead!
#5 – Do you get paid to be a Pastor?
Yes. I currently receive a housing allowance that covers our mortgage and bills. In November 2012 I listened to God and left my secular job (making close to six figures) to lead the church full-time. That decision meant no salary and no benefits. Gwenna and I stepped out in faith and God has provided for us each step of the way (I’d highly encourage you to do the same). On top of that we decided that we would continue to invest in the kingdom of God by tithing 10% on less than half of my original salary! To this day we’ve been blessed beyond measure, never missed a payment of any kind, continue to provide for our children, and share the good news that God can be trusted with EVERYTHING.
#5 – Why did you write a book?
I initially wrote The Forgiveness Factor to process the pain I was experiencing in my life. I was in a very dark place and couldn’t understand God’s plan and purpose. I reached out to both of my parents and asked them to help me write the story. I wanted to go back and understand what, why, and how my story mattered to them and to God. This began an intense time of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation for all three of us and our extended family. It was through this compilation that we ultimately found freedom and understanding. I praise Jesus Christ for being the “forgiveness factor” that healed our family! All first time guests with AS IS Church receive a free copy.
#6 – What is your favorite moment so far?
God has done some amazing things through the ministry of AS IS Church. Actually, one of the most touching moments was last weekend. It was “baptism Sunday” for us and several folks were scheduled to be baptized. During the second service the Spirit really broke loose and people were lining up to be baptized (even after we ended the service). But there was one young lady that really touched my heart. With tears in her eyes she came forward to be baptized. After she publicly acknowledged her faith, repentance, and decision to follow Christ she asked to share a few words: “I’ve been to church most of my 32 years but never felt welcomed or accepted. Church people have always looked at me with disgust or disapproval. Thank you for loving me and accepting me ‘AS IS’. I have found a home here and am ready to be baptized.” (Everyone Has a Name. Everyone Has a Story. Everyone Matters to God.)
#7 – Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who put their trust in the Lord. I get fired up when hurting people turn to Jesus for healing (instead of their old coping behaviors). I get amp’d when prideful and judgmental folks learn to walk in humility and surrender. I get stoked when people from all walks of life learn to love and care for one another as a family. I get excited when people feel valued, included, and affirmed through the presence of other people struggling to find meaning. I love it when people hang in there when they feel like giving up. I appreciate the healthy and mature coming alongside the hurting and hopeless. I love it when the underdog wins! With God all things are possible! He is my greatest inspiration!
#8 – What is the “one thing” you’d tell someone about life?
Don’t give up. Look to God to guide your life. Search deep inside yourself and find the strength to make the hard choices. The right choice is always the hard choice – but God will bless it! If you really want to change and see growth it takes discipline. It takes embracing the pain prior to the reward. Most of us try to avoid the pain at all costs by procrastinating, coping, or running. Don’t give up. Stay the course. And don’t let the grandstand critics discourage you! Thick skin is very important in ministry and in life!
#9 – How will AS IS Church be effective in the future?
An effective future for AS IS Church is only possible if we remain committed to our vision and mission. Did you notice I wrote “we” and not “me”? This vision is not about a single person or leader! It is about an army rising up, dressed for battle in the armor of God, standing ready to fight for the hearts of all people! It is about developing a community of hope, healing, and wholeness. It is about seeing people come to Jesus and learning how to follow Him (discipleship). It is about our leaders equipping others for works of service. It is about never giving up even when we face giants. We will put our trust in Him and He will direct our steps!
#10 – Do you really believe the Beavers will beat the Ducks tomorrow?
Of course. That’s a no brainer. All true followers of Christ understand and believe this.
Have a blessed weekend my friends! Today I am thankful for you and all that He has done. I know that ANYTIME I am tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness in my current circumstances I simply have to remind myself to stop and look at all He has done in the past and KNOW that I am not where I am (and our church is not where it is) because I am a really smart person who has it all figured out…but rather because God is so good and kind and He still uses “unschooled, ordinary men” for His glory (see Acts 4:13)!
God has great plans for us! The best is YET to come!
See you Sunday!