Serving in the UK and the US
Encouraging & equipping UK church planting & disciple-making by recruiting & training short-term teams & interns, with the hope of curbing the post-Christian fate of America’s next generation.
A little about us:
Julie and I will have been married 15 years this coming November. We are a great team, best friends in fact, and have never felt more spiritually alive or than since we embarked on this missional journey with Christ. At the same time it has been one of the most stretching and trying experiences we have faced to date. We have two beautiful adopted children. Wil is going to turn four this August, and he loves Cars and wrestling with dad. Ella turned one in February and has a lot to say about everything. There is never a dull moment in this little family.
What is your testimony?
Julie met the Lord as a young girl as a result of witnessing her older brother be baptized in the church her family attended throughout her childhood. However, I was actually not saved until 2004. I had trusted in a repeated prayer as a small child as what had saved me, but even as a full-time youth pastor/worship leader, I was as lost as anyone else. Who I was at home and who I was at church were two different guys. It was through a series of very humbling and gut-wrenching experiences, as well as witnessing the transformation Christ brings in the lives of teenagers that were coming to the Christ I was preaching about but did not know personally, that God broke me of my pride and self-righteous attempts to be good enough to please Him on my own. My pursuit of religion, man’s applause, and a big name for myself only led to more emptiness. My wife had fully believed she had married a Christian, but our first six years of marriage were so confusing, trying and painful for her. Only through her steadfast devotion to Christ, and to praying for me and loving me despite my constant failures and injurious home-life that the grace of God toward me became truly evident. I attribute meeting Christ to her, and I owe her my life.
How’d God lead you to this? What were you doing before?
- Shepherding: I have spent the last seven years serving as a Senior Pastor. During that time, my ministry always leaned toward making disciples in the community. Being able to speak from the experience of leading the local church has benefited me greatly in connecting with the pastoral heart behind the various ministries we seek to partner with.
- Education: My life story simply never tracked with my peers. I moved around my entire life, having never lived in one house more than 4 years. God continuously moved me through circumstances outside of my (our) control. This has had an effect on my actual classroom training, having attended three different Bible colleges now, but still not having completed a degree. Some have urged me toward completing the degree, and I someday hope to, but it has proven more effective that I have actually not had a specific seminary’s approach to ministry engrained into my thinking.
- Youth Ministry: Throughout being a pastor, I was also involved heavily with youth ministry, having worked with students now for almost 20 years. This continues to aid being able to relate to those we are seeking to recruit and train.
- Children’s Ministry: Julie has been the Children’s ministry coordinator for two of the churches we have served in. Her administrative abilities prove invaluable in helping our ministry.
- Entrepreneur: When we were first married, I started and ran a successful landscaping company. The experience of creating and working something from the ground up has proven essential in connecting with and understanding our church planting friends.
- Heart: My experiences above somewhat answered this already, but I would add that my heart always comes back to the next generation of the American church. I actually stepped down out of pastoring because I knew God was calling me into something that would help accomplish reclaiming them for the Kingdom. Initially that looked like trying to be a discipleship trainer or youth evangelist, but I soon discovered that there are a million guys and gals out there doing or trying to do that. Very few, however, were actually taking young people into the field, displacing them in order to disciple them, and bringing them back into the world they came from ready to bring the true mission of the Gospel into their communities. God has given us a heart for the UK, but He has also heard the cry of our heart for reaching young people here at home, and this ministry with GEM has become the vehicle in which to accomplish both. We are amazed and humbled at how clever our God is.
Where We Work and What We Do:
We are partnering together with national church planters and U.S. missionaries starting churches across the U.K. who are dedicated to bringing the transforming work of Jesus Christ into the communities in which they serve. We are essentially investing in the lives of those who are truly making disciples, upon whom God’s hand is clearly evident.
a) We will continuously expand the network of Kingdom minded ministry leaders and church planters across the UK, bringing the currently disjoined Body of Christ together in working harmony and unity. At the beginning of 2013, there were five church plants that we had been able to secure a partnership with, and to date, that number has already grown to 16, with nearly ten more in the works. These church plants are doing phenomenal work in their communities, living out the Gospel in community, bringing transformation to society and seeing the lost come to Christ. They need our help in establishing short-term teams for special projects, as well as the assistance of short and long-term interns who can work under them and alongside them. We will find those resources for them.
b) We will resource those who are multiplying disciples and reaching their communities for Christ with hands on volunteer, self-funded workers and interns in order to help said ministries accomplish immediate goals and leap forward in terms of days and weeks what would have taken months or years. We have sent multiple teams this year already, the most recent being a team of 16 young people that I led to three of our partnerships to work on various Gospel-centered projects, across London, Brighton and Stourbridge (near Birmingham), UK. We will network with various churches and ministries here in the States to locate and equip people willing to serve on such teams. We are working with Colleges, such as Dallas Baptist University, to also send interns to the UK. These teams and interns are proving invaluable to the success of the mission and vision of these church plants, and it is vital that we continue to build our Stateside network.
c) A very large aspect of the intern process is to Train and Equip American and Canadian young people to serve under and learn from these leaders, bringing the experience of ministry in a pre-Christian/post-modern world culture to bear on the future of the church here at home, with great hopes of changing the trajectory of our next generation. We will continue to deepen our cross-cultural training platform, and work to develop a continuously better experience for those who are planning to go, and those who are on the ground. We will meet regularly with our partners, both face to face and over the internet, to assess the immediate felt needs, as well as to really listen to how we can more effectively prepare young people and church teams to work in the UK context.
d) As “missional tourism” is an anti-value of what we do, it should be clarified that these efforts are not for the purpose of merely providing students with an experience overseas, nor is it a foreign exchange student program. This effort is truly about hearing the needs of those who are working one of the most spiritually ready fields we know of right now, and responding appropriately, expediently and effectively to those needs with the best human resources available in the Kingdom that we can discover and equip for the task.