When I was an 18-year-old college freshman at Florida State University, Lakeview Baptist Church hired me to be their youth pastor. I got paid $100 a week to lead a youth group with four teenagers. I would spend the next ten years of my life serving as a student pastor in the local church.
In 2005, my family and I moved to a small town just outside of Atlanta to start a brand new church. We didn’t know anybody, but we believed God wanted us to do it. We were there for six years, and the experience was life-changing in many ways.
Three years ago, I started working for a friend named Casey Graham and his brand new company. We created resources to help the local church and had a blast doing it. During that time, we attended NorthPoint Community Church and loved every minute of it. I wrote about what NorthPoint meant to me and my family in this post and I wrote about my time with The Rocket Company in this post.
We recently moved back to our hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. In a sense, we’re starting over. I’m starting a new company to provide practical resources and training for pastors and church leaders. This type of work is in my DNA – it’s what I know and it’s who I am. The church has always been a part of my life, whether I am attending or leading or resourcing.
Here are five things I know about pastors and churches, and five reasons I love the local church.
- A local church helped set the trajectory of my life. When I was 15, I decided to follow Jesus with my life at a local church service. When I was 17, I decided to become a pastor at that same church. My junior high and high school youth pastor invested in me during my years at that church. This one local church influenced my view of God, career, mission, purpose, family and so much more.
- The pastors I know are selfless servants who want to make a difference. It’s funny to me when I hear people talk about pastors being in it for the money. 99% of the pastors I know are dramatically underpaid and could make WAY more money in some other line of work. Most are amazing, humble, selfless leaders who love Jesus and love their communities. Pastors are heroes.
- Local churches come in all shapes and sizes. There are rural churches and urban churches. There are progressive churches and traditional churches. There are small churches and mega churches. Traditional and modern. Churches who love singing and churches who love preaching. All of them are important and all of them matter.
- It’s a physical representation of Jesus. Jesus is invisible, and I’ve never been to heaven. But the church is the body of Christ, and I can see that. When local churches love and serve their community, worship wholeheartedly, and give generously, it’s a very real picture of Jesus. It’s tangible, not theoretical. It’s physical, not just spiritual.
- Jesus said he would build His church. Jesus told Peter He would build His CHURCH. Not a 501(c)3 non profit organization. Or a publishing company. Or the Boy Scouts. He said He would build His Church. There are a lot of important things in the world, but there was a guy who was dead and came back to life. I’m going to hitch up to his construction crew and help build what He’s building.
These are just five of the reasons I love the local church and love pastors. And these are just five of the reasons I’m committed to helping, serving and resourcing the church through this new company.
Pastors, I’m in your corner.