About Me

About Me

I have had the privilege of serving in full-time ministry for nearly a decade, working in churches from Missouri to Florida and ranging in size from 40 people to 4,000. I have spoken at multiple ministry events across the country. I even had the opportunity to travel to  Mbale, Uganda to teach pastors in training about church leadership. I have a B.A. in Biblical Literature as well as a B.A. in Christian Ministry. My first book, Zombie Church, was published in 2011. I’ve also written a number of articles for various Christian publications. My amazing wife, Erica, and I have been married since 2007. We currently live in South Carolina, where I serve as the lead pastor of Crossover Church in Johnsonville.

 My Testimony

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents loved Jesus and they taught me the importance of a relationship with God. When I was eight years old I surrendered my life to Jesus and was baptized. I was a good church kid. I did the things you were supposed to do and avoided the things you weren’t. I never did drugs, never went to crazy parties, never smoked a cigarette; Yet I felt like something was missing. Trying harder and harder to figure out what part of the formula was missing, I worked myself into a depression. I realized that I was placing my identity in what I was doing. At the time we were going to a church where Jesus was talked about but He wasn’t attending. Deciding we needed to get away from that toxic environment, my family started going to a different church. For the first time I felt connected to a Godly community. I found acceptance in the community of the church and began to grow in my relationship with Jesus as a result.

As I grew, I found that my identity was not in the things I did but in what Jesus had done for me. It was this realization that changed the course of my life and allowed me to hear the Spirit calling me into ministry. Responding to God’s calling I signed up to attend Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. When I arrived, it was the smallest town I had ever seen. The school, though small, had high standards and continually challenged students to grow deeper in their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel. I graduated in seven semesters with two bachelor degrees, one in Christian Ministry and the other in Biblical Literature. The summer before my final year at Ozark I took on an internship at Harvester Christian Church, one of the largest churches in Missouri. At the end of my internship the Lead Pastor, Ben Merrold encouraged me to pursue a preaching ministry. A few months later I came across a small church in town that was looking for a lead pastor and applied. In 2006 I became the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church where I stayed for six years. During this time, I met, baptized and married my wife, and wrote my first book, Zombie Church: Breathing life back into the body of Christ.

In 2011 my wife and I led Cornerstone through the tragedy of one of the deadliest storms in US history when an EF-5 tornado destroyed 8,000 homes and businesses and killed 161 people. A year later we felt led out of Joplin and went to serve with a church plant in Jacksonville Florida. After spending a year serving in one of the fastest growing churches in the country we took a lead pastor position at Crossover Church in South Carolina where we currently serve.

Call to Ministry

Growing up in a Christian home, I surrendered my life to Jesus at a young age and was baptized at the age of eight. While Jesus has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember for my youth he was just that, a part of my life. The summer before my senior year of high school I heard a sermon about the cross of Christ. The pastor spoke with passion and eloquence I had never seen before. Understanding the true significance of what Jesus did on the cross changed my relationship with Him forever. Before my senior year of high school I was at a summer youth conference and the Holy Spirit began pulling on my heart. I spent the next few years studying to prepare for ministry. While at school I was unsure what calling God specifically had on my life. I was terrified of public speaking and my singing voice scares small woodland creatures, which didn’t leave a whole lot of options. Then, in my sophomore year, a group of friends signed me up to do supply preaching with them. The first sermon I preached was at a small church in Stillwell, Oklahoma. It was awful. Probably one of the worst sermons ever preached. However, when I was done I felt the clear call of God on my heart to preach. In 2006, I took my first ministry as the lead pastor of a church. During my six years there I discovered this was my gifting and passion despite my initial discomfort with speaking in front of others.

Philosophy of Ministry

My philosophy of ministry is rooted in Matthew 28:18–20:

Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Martin Luther said: “The default mode of the human heart is religion.” Religion is not the source of salvation but often an obstacle to it. Jesus was arrested and crucified by religious people who were jealous of His popularity and afraid He would jeopardize their authority. What I mean by “religion” is not an organized belief in God, but the idea that traditions, rituals, and rules are means of obtaining a relationship with God. Salvation is not found in what we do but in what has been done for us. It is not something we can earn. Our efforts do not entitle us to God’s salvation. We are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith in Him alone, for His glory alone. A relationship with God is obtained by surrendering our lives to Him. In this surrender we enter into a relationship in which gives us something we couldn’t obtain on our own: life. It is the message of the Gospel, that Jesus came, Jesus died, and Jesus rose again for the forgiveness of our sins so that we could be called children of God that transforms lives.

The vehicle God gave us for sharing this message is the church. Jesus didn’t come without purpose. He came on a mission. Before He ascended into heaven, He shared that mission with us. The church exists to carry out the mission of Jesus to preach the gospel and make disciples. Four point focus The early church was devoted to four things (Acts 2:42):

1. The apostles teaching: this is the presentation of the Gospel. The apostles did not preach topical sermons about popular TV series. They preached Christ and the power of the cross. This focus on the Word of God is what transforms hearts and raises up disciples.

2. Breaking of Bread: this is communion. The church devoted itself to the remembrance of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. Our growth does not come from our effort but from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. This focus allows the church to dwell in their identity as children of God.

3. Prayer. Nothing replaces the value of spending time with God. It is this focus that allows the church to remain synched with God. Without it, even the most well intentioned leaders can direct the church in the path they would have it go instead of the path God desires for it. Prayer allows us to remain connected to the vision and mission of God for the church.

4. Fellowship. The church didn’t just meet sporadically. They devoted themselves to developing a Godly community to support and encourage each other. People are like Legos, we were made to be connected. Fellowship allows us to experience the fullness of the movement of God in the community and fosters natural discipleship. Core theological convictions: I have divided this statement into five core convictions.

1. Gospel centered

2. Living on Mission

3. Raising up disciples

4. Spirit empowered

5. Culturally relevant.

1. Gospel centered The Gospel is the good news of hope we have in Jesus. It is the message that we have been transformed from wretched black hearted sinners into righteous children of God. It’s easy to stop there. The Gospel is not just a message to be heard it is a life to be lived. It should permeate everything we do. The gospel should shape our relationships, change our marriages, alter our decision making, and transform us from the inside out. The more we hear it and understand it the more it should slowly change our lives. Through the impact of the gospel we should begin to live, love, and look like Jesus. Due to the significance of the Word of God I focus my preaching not on topical sermons and point I want to make but on the text. I prefer to preach books of the Bible exegetically because God’s Word is more powerful and influential than mine.

2. Living on Mission The final command Jesus gave His disciples was to go into the nations and make disciples. The mission of Jesus was to reach the world with the message of the Gospel. Missions are not all foreign. The mission of Jesus to preach the Gospel should be done locally, nationally, and internationally. Christianity is the only world religion that is not based on faith in religious teaching. It is about what was seen and heard. The disciples were not sharing philosophical thoughts about God. They were talking about what they had seen Jesus do. For that we have a mission: share the message of the gospel with the world. I believe central to the heart of God is a love for people. As the church is His redemptive agent at work in the world we are both called and equipped by the Holy Spirit to share the love of God with the world. To implement this, I commonly would come up with suggestions of practical things we can do to show the love of Jesus. Since the most common objection to sharing the love of Jesus is time, every once in a while I would print out those suggestions as lists, and once everyone arrived at church, I would cancel the service simply to send the people out to be the church. This gives them that time to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

3. Raising up disciples A lot of times we exchange discipleship for conversion. The goal becomes getting people to accept that Jesus is their savior and sometimes to the neglect of Jesus as their Lord. Converts are people who believe. Disciples are people who live. The difference is two-fold: disciples surrender to Jesus and disciples are committed to His mission. Converts may turn to Jesus but they don’t surrender to Him. Converts are involved with Jesus but not committed to Him in the same way. It’s the difference between eggs and ham for breakfast. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed. I have found the importance of developing a group of people with strong leadership potential and investing in them. I meet with them once a week and give them a ministry course each week teaching them how to interpret the bible, prepare a bible study, some basic counseling, and essential theology. The goal is to prepare them to be ministers with practical hands-on training. When the course is done they are sent out to train their own disciples and to apply what they have learned.

4. Spirit Empowered The Holy Spirit is often the most neglected part of the Godhead. Without the Spirit of God there is no conviction, no transformation, not restoration. The Holy Spirit works active in and through us to conform us into the image of Christ. He is also the force of change in culture. Without His influence the church is a social club with a heavenly mindset. The Holy Spirit gives life to our efforts and meaning to our work. Without the favor of the Spirit of God the church fails to offer the life it promises to deliver. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do the impossible, to love the unlovable, and change the unchangeable. Focusing on the spirit is a challenge. There is no formula to keep that empowerment flowing. What I do is try to honor the Spirit, recognize His work, and pray constantly for His favor.

5. Culturally Relevant The Gospel turned the world on its head. It was a radical and relevant message that challenged cultural norms. One thing about culture is that it is always changing. The message of the Gospel doesn’t change. God doesn’t change, but the way in which we go about sharing the gospel should adapt to culture. The message must remain the same but the method for its presentation should adapt so that we are not placing obstacles between men and God. In Acts 15 the church was deciding what to do with new gentile converts. What the church decided is that they should not make themselves an obstacle to the faith of others by making it unnecessarily difficult to be a Christian. What is important is faithfulness to the Word of God and surrendering our heart to the Lordship of God.

I spend time with people outside the church and keeping track of cultural trends. This allows me to make comments and references to pop culture and relevant real-world issues and address them timely and from a Biblical perspective. I feel that one of a pastor’s primary jobs is to package the Word in an engaging and relevant way. I believe the church is the beloved bride of Christ and should be a priority in any healthy relationship with God. I believe that preaching is one of the most important duties of the church, to prepare and package the message of God in a clear, engaging, and understandable way. I believe that God loves the church and uses the church to impact the culture. My philosophy of ministry can be simply summed up in this: it’s ever, only, always about Jesus.