When I was younger all I ever wanted to be was a pastor. There were a myriad of reasons for that. Many of them positive: an honest desire to help others, an early-on realization that I was good in front of a crowd, my genuine fascination with the stories of the Bible and, probably most importantly, the fact that the church is where I found my deepest friendships and meaning. As with any young person, there were less-than-noble desires: to be in charge, to fix what I perceived was wrong with religion, to make a name for myself.
What became gradually obvious is that there were parts of vocational ministry that were perfect for me. And there were parts that were not. Upon reflection, I am at my best on a stage teaching, telling stories and, hopefully, inspiring others to love God and others. That sort of skill set often comes with the expectation of running the day-to-day operations of a church. That, as it turns out, is not at all my thing.
Nearly three years ago, I made a big decision to leave vocational ministry at a church I loved—The Cincinnati Vineyard—to launch Rebel Pilgrim Productions. I’ve missed both speaking on the weekends and my friends from The Vineyard, but I haven’t regretted the decision to leave. The last three years have, without question, been the most professionally fulfilling of my life. My business is growing rapidly, particularly the Creative Agency side of what we do. We have amazing clients and I absolutely love helping them tell their stories in creative ways.
The only uncertain thing in my life over the last few years has been church. I’m a Christian, but of a different breed than many others in my faith. Debbie and I have tried to connect here and there in some faith communities. The more we did that, the more I realized that I still sense a responsibility (calling?) to teach in the local church. To fill that desire, I began speaking at a variety of churches across America when needed. It was fun and I hope to continue speaking at those churches when possible, but it left our family feeling even more spiritually homeless. One of those churches was SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg, OH. It’s only about 25 minutes from my house and many of my great friends work there. It has been the closest thing to a church home we’ve had for a while now.
When the opportunity was presented a few months ago for me to formally join SouthBrook as part of the teaching team, it immediately registered as something good for me to do. Upon further discussions with the church leadership, it also became clear that there was an opportunity to do something bigger together.
Next month I will be joining SouthBrook and speaking regularly at the Miamisburg campus while we prepare to launch a SouthBrook site in Monroe, a suburb about 30 miles north of Cincinnati and 30 miles south of Dayton—and just a few minutes from my house. When that site launches sometime in 2016, I will be serving as the primary speaker on Sundays. It’s a great fit. I get to speak about the Kingdom and cast a vision for what we can do to make our neighborhood a better place. There will be a team of pastors, administrators and leaders to run the day-to-day operations of the site so that I can continue to devote my time and energy to Rebel Pilgrim throughout the week. It feels right. I couldn’t be more excited.
There’s a lot to work out over the next year. If you live in the area and have a church home, my hope for you is that you stay there and serve that community. If you are church-homeless like we have been, you may want to join us. I will keep you posted from time to time as to how to join the adventure.
In the meantime, everything else continues full steam ahead at Rebel Pilgrim and Rebel Storytellers. I will be doing a one-man show in downtown Cincinnati on the Gospel of Luke on March 28th, our movie Hope Bridge releases May 26th nationwide, and our Creative Agency continues to help other companies and organizations tell stories that spark hope and action … I’m just going to get to do the same thing again within a faith community on Sundays. God is good. Thanks to all of you for your support.
Photo by Trent Pekkala