From Yellow Barn to Yellow Box
It was 10 years ago that I received a call from a church – a church I had never even applied to – offering me a job. It was a season of my life I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a part of a church let alone work at one, but that fact didn’t seem to scare this community in the slightest. So I prayed. I fasted. I met with mentors, family, and friends. And in the thick of that searching, God spoke – clearer than I had ever heard him before. Despite my brokenness, doubt, and (many) shortcomings – he led me to a beautiful family called Poplar Creek Church. A family that even allowed me to serve in India for the summer – a trip that would change my life – before beginning as their new Pastor of Student Ministries. It was the most surprising, remarkable of beginnings.
The student ministry was called “Matchbox Ministries” and met in this barely legal yellow storage barn, a barn built to agricultural equipment storage standards… of 1982. And boy oh boy did we make that place home. Tattered mouse-housing couches, an unfortunate dungeon of a bathroom, and a concrete floor perfect for dangerous ideas – God built a family as diverse and unique as our decor. I grew my hair out to a ridiculous length, preached barefoot, and just jumped in with both feet into what we felt God was doing. We laughed, cried, and truly journeyed with one another through the joys and sorrows of life. We hosted insane concerts and built a shark out of a car. We struggled and celebrated and everything in between.
Four years and a whole heap of beautiful stories later, I received another unexpected call. This time it was from our elders asking if I would consider interviewing for the position of Lead Pastor. Now, it was a bleak season in the life of our community – a reality made clear by the very fact that they were calling me. In fact, we had a projected six months to total bankruptcy. When the leadership asked if I was interested, I initially told them flat out “no thanks” – but God was up to something peculiar in our family again. The elders asked if I would at least spend some time in prayer about it, a request I knew I’d have a hard time making a case against, so I agreed. Again I prayed. I fasted. I met with mentors, family, and friends. In that seeking God stirred undeniably in my heart and soul and after hours of conversations, interviews, and prayer – I was given the unfathomable privilege and honor of being installed as Lead Pastor – a role I was in no way qualified for nor could have imagined that God would ever lead me to. But He did. And what a ride it was.
In those five years I’ve seen God move in ways I had only dreamed of. We witnessed provision, healing, growth and restoration that left me utterly breathless time and time again. We dared greatly, prayed passionately, and shared openly. We threw parties, we invited the community, we stepped out into the unknown even when it was terrifying. It was in those seasons both of joy and sorrow that this community became so much more than that – they became my family. They cried with me, laughed with me, struggled with me, challenged me, and brought me soup when I was too sick to move. They were patient with me when I made mistakes (of which there were many) and dreamt big dreams with me when God was leading us to trust Him.
About six months ago God began to stir again.
It began with a cup of coffee with a dear friend and it has been a wild, terrifying, surprising ride that followed. Since then God has so profoundly deepened my sense of awe and wonder for who He is and the plans He has for us. I’m learning more and more each day that – if we will loosen our grip and surrender control – He will lead us, often to places we never would expect. God seems to specialize in the unforeseeable, the unanticipated, the unpredictable.
That is the space I find myself in today.
Since the time of that cup of coffee God has been stirring deep in my soul; leading, nudging, and maybe even pushing Katie and I into a new season, a new adventure – one I never could’ve seen coming. Through countless hours again of prayer, fasting – seeking counsel from mentors, friends, and family – God has made it so crystal clear where he is leading us, a reality that is somehow simultaneously exciting, heartbreaking, and frightening all at once. Once again, I find myself in a place where I in way over my head – excited and ready to learn and grow, yet mournful to move on.
So this new season is leading Katie and I to Naperville. By the wild, crazy grace of God, I have been offered and have accepted the position of Teaching Pastor at Community Christian Church – Yellow Box. My first day will be May 9th and am so immensely humbled and excited to see how God is going to move in the weeks, months, and years to come. This community has already welcomed and loved Katie and I better than we could’ve hoped for and we have seen the fingerprints of God every step of the way.
Leaving this PCC, this family – feels like the most difficult, painful thing I’ve ever had to do, but I am learning afresh what it means to trust God fully – just like when I was in India unsure of where I was going or what I was supposed to do. And let me tell you, friends. God. Is. Faithful. The sting of sadness is still most certainly there, but God is walking patiently with us.
I feel so incredibly blessed that I will be moving from this family on the best of terms – no scandal, no rift, not so much as a dispute among leadership or the community. There is such incredible unity and transparency here. And that’s the beauty of family – it truly transcends geography. We will always be family. These are my dear brothers and sisters and the God that is leading Katie and I is the same Good Father who is leading, calling, and shepherding Poplar Creek. I’ve never been more confident of that fact in my life. Jesus is the true Senior Pastor of this church and he has such a beautiful plan in place. We need only to pause, listen, and follow boldly.
To the many, many people who have walked with me, shepherded me, coached me, inspired me, prodded me, challenged me, and love me – it is through tear-filled eyes that I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you. You will never know the depths of just how much you mean to me.
To God be the glory!