What did you do after Seminary? After graduating from Seminary I began looking for work in various churches. During that time, Cactus Game Design, a Christian gaming company I had done freelance graphic work for, contacted me about taking a full time position as their art director. After much prayer, I felt as though God was directing me to take this position. I didn't understand the logic behind it. I was called into the ministry. But I have learned that following God is always the best thing to do, even when it doesn't make sense. So, I married my fiancee, Leslie, and we moved to Hayesville, NC.
How long where you with Cactus Game Design? I was with the company for eight years. When we first moved to NC I didn't think we would be there for more than a few years. But, looking back on it now, I can see that I wasn't yet ready for full time ministry. During our North Carolina years, Leslie and I did a lot of growing up. We were active in three Baptist churches over our stay there, and those experiences, both good and bad, really helped to shape my vision for the church.
What caused you to leave Cactus? In the spring of 2008 I was told that due to the downturn in the economy I would be losing my job on July 1st. It would be 9 months of job searching before we heard about Millersburg Grace Brethren looking for a pastor. In our interview process, things just seemed to click. Lot's of doors opened and Leslie and I felt it was God's desire for us to be here. My first Sunday was April 5, 2009.
How would you summarize Millersburg Grace Brethren? In our sanctuary we have an altar. And on that altar is the phrase "To God Alone be the Glory". We really mean that. Everything we do is done for God's Glory alone and the expansion of His Kingdom.
What is your philosophy of ministry? To preach and teach the Gospel. To see to it that it is at the heart of our worship, our giving, and our programs. It is the Gospel that brings us from death to life. It saves our souls from the wrath of God. It is the greatest Truth to a fallen world. I pray it permeates all that we do at MGBC.
What is your philosophy on preaching? To faithfully preach the Gospel. A quote from Rev. Richard Baxter has really driven what I attempt to accomplish with each message. He says, "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." We ARE dying! A person who worshipped with us last Sunday may not live to see the next. If this is their last sermon, what do they need to hear? They need Christ and Him crucified. If this is my last sermon, what would I want to share? The Gospel! So I make sure to include the Gospel in every sermon I preach. That way every hearer will have every opportunity to repent and be saved. For those who are saved, it strengthens their hope in the resurrection and God's coming Kingdom.
As for sermon structure I am mostly an expository preacher. I will ocassionally preach a topical message but usually I take a book of the Bible and start at 1:1 and work my way through the entire book. I know people who think that is the most boring way of preaching. It is true that it certainly isn't the most exciting, but preaching isn't about temporal existment. It is about imparting Biblical truths to the congregation that will first save their souls and then begin to sanctify their lives. Some of the Bible's truthes are so complex they need to be repeated constantly in order for the congregation to grasp it. I always tell my congregation you are not going to see much growth as a Christian by listening to just one sermon. You are not going to see much growth by listening to two sermons. You need to hear many sermons from both Old and New Testaments that affirm the same life saving Truthes of God to start to see some real change in your life. Growth takes time and growth is seen most in those who are long time students of God's Word.
What are your thoughts on music in the church? I believe just about any type of music can be used in the church to worship God, although I think certain types of music are more conducive than others in directing worship away from ourselves and towards God. MGBC uses a mixture of hymns and newer music with a strict emphasis on lyrics that focus on worshipping God's attributes and what God has done for us. While mixing the two styles can prove challenging, I believe having one unified service where a family can worship together is best. It requires compromise both by the younger and older members but compromise in this age of self centeredness is a good thing.
What are your thoughts on evangelism? The pastor/elders are to accurately preach the Truth of God's Word, including the centrality of the Gospel. They do this for two reasons. 1. That those who are not really saved may hear the Gospel, be struck to the heart and repent. 2. That those who are already saved may grow in their confidence and understanding of the Bible and the Gospel, so when they return to their families, neighborhoods and workplaces, they will know what to say when asked about the hope that lives within them. As they share the Gospel, may God prick the hearts of those listening,and may they repent and be saved.
What are your thoughts on programs in the church? I am very much a minimalist when it comes to programs. When Jesus commanded his disciples to go make disciples, he didn't instruct them to go start a bunch of programs at church. He commanded them "as you are going through life's routines, make disciples" . That means our greatest opportunities for church growth happen while we are at the laudromat, participating in 4-H, coaching a ball team, sitting through parent-teacher meetings or at work. For us to effectively accomplish this, the church building should be empty most of the week.