As of last month, we’ve been in Orlando 5 years since moving from Dallas. Well technically, Ali was here most of her life. After we got married in 2009, she made the move out west for my last two years at Dallas Seminary and got enough Texas to last a lifetime.
We came from The Village Church, and before moving, looked up local Acts 29 churches. I believe at the time there was only one, CrossPointe, but it had multiple sites. Actually come to find out, it had multiple plants that were somewhat autonomous but still umbilically linked. After meeting with Ryan Walker, the connections pastor at the main campus (and now lead pastor at CrossPointe Downtown), we ended up at CrossPointe Waterford Lakes.
Initially, we wanted to keep a low profile. There were 3 or so small group options in this church of about 70 that met in a gym. We ended up in the one led by the Josiah and Jordan Potter. Josiah was the worship pastor at the time (now family pastor at Lake Nona, via planting Peachtree City) who happened to also be from Tennessee. At that point, it was predominantly young couples, and as providence would have it, one of them included another Dallas grad named Kenny Mauger.
It was also around this time that Ali and I started helping lead worship. When we first came to the church, worship was a primarily acoustic affair with a djembe for good measure. I had a drumset and starting drumming regularly before a better drummer took over and I moved to electric guitar. Eventually, band practices would be in our house during the week.
Later in the fall, some college students started coming to our small group. They gradually started inviting people, and then Passion 2012 happened. The next thing we know, our group has divided to accommodate growth and Ali and I are leading a predominantly college age group that would average about 25-30 through the spring. There are now several young couples in our church that got to know each other in that group and eventually fell in love and married.
I had also during the spring started a ministry internship and ended up teaching a class on systematic theology, among other things. We briefly headed up the youth group, after a commissioning service you can see pictured above. For theological and interpersonal reasons, two of the families left the church right after we started, and all of sudden the youth group was just one family. I began leading a Bible study instead for the oldest boy and a couple of his friends.
This all carried on until the summer, and then we ended up moving to a small house a bit farther from church. We continued leading a group in the fall, and I also started a separate Old Testament Bible study. At this point I had also started teaching Bible at International Community School after a brief (yearlong) stint as the science teacher. Because of our involvement at church though, I was hoping to move into some kind of staff position of at least part time value to supplement and flesh out what teaching paid.
In my mind, this should have been an easy transition, but God had other plans. In spring of 2013, I had a meeting with our pastors to talk about doing a more permanent internship starting that summer. Instead, I was rebuked for failing to provide and for failing to lead well at home. Even though I think in retrospect they would concede they went about this the wrong way, and were actually a bit under informed on the matter, they were right in a Spirit led sort of way. By that I mean that it was something God used to get my attention even though the criticism was not delivered in the context of pastoral care and not based on much information from Ali.
I realized I needed to step up my leadership within my marriage before focusing on doing more ministry. I also needed to do what it took to work more, even if that meant not working at a church. So, toward the end of the spring I began working with Docent Research Group, teaching private music lessons (something I did in Dallas for my main job), and by the summer, working at Starbucks again. I didn’t think I’d be back at the school that fall and was actively interviewing for other jobs, including a youth pastor position at a church in South Carolina.
But again, God had other plans…