My wife, Evie, and I began attending Christ’s Chapel in 1997 when the church was just 11 years old. We had no plans of staying at this church or in Northern KY for more than a few years. But here we are, 19 years later, still calling Christ’s Chapel our home. If I could have somehow looked into the future and saw that we would still be here, I would have probably guessed that we would be disappointed, bored and disheartened that we had chosen to settle instead of do something “great for God’ and with our lives. However, I am so happy that we never left.
Back in 1997, I was an English teacher in the public schools and Evie had a job she loved at Fidelity Investments. She grew up a missionary’s kid, and one of the reasons she married me was that she did not want to be in the ministry. Little did we know at the time that not only would we still be in Northern KY attending Christ’s Chapel but we would accept a full-time position to come on staff as youth pastors here in 2004.
A couple years after being on staff I went to a conference for young adult pastors in Atlanta, hosted by Louie Giglio, called Thirsty. At the Thirsty Conference, Louie exhorted, pleaded, and practically begged all of us in attendance to stay where we were ministering for at least 10 years. At the time, I was discouraged and frustrated at where I thought our church was heading, my role I was playing at the church and what I thought was my inability to lead change in our students and the church in general. I remember thinking that there was no way I would last 10 years, let alone the rest of the remaining year.
Can I tell you emphatically that I’m so glad I am still here at Christ’s Chapel? How many times did I think about throwing in the towel? I’m glad I didn’t keep track because I would be embarrassed to tell you the number. What I can tell you is this: I’m grateful I heeded Louie Giglio’s advice. I’m so happy that I married a wife who genuinely pursues God and who talked and prayed me off the ledge time and time again.
Evie and I have had the opportunity to see people change and mature in their faith. We’ve been blessed beyond measure to watch young people grow up, get married, have kids and do amazing things for the Kingdom of God. We have had the opportunity to develop friendships here that have stood the test time. Staying put is a decision that I know I got right!
Don’t get me wrong. I try not to live in an illusionary bubble and think our church is perfect or has it all together. I serve with a group of pastors and staff members that I love and who would readily tell you they are as human and flawed as the day is long. We bicker about petty things and stumble through our day to day decisions just like everybody else. We lead volunteers and interact with people week to week that make decisions that can leave us frustrated, upset and even disheartened from time to time. I do believe that each one of these people I have just mentioned: Staff, volunteers and church members alike, chase after God and have every intention at making decisions that are pleasing to Him and for the benefit of His kingdom. I’m thankful to call so many of these folks my friends.
I am also honored to not only serve on staff here at Christ’s Chapel for all these years, but to serve under Pastor Terry and Cindy who have been here from the very thought of the church’s inception. I’m grateful to serve under someone who has demonstrated to me what faithfulness, devotion and genuine love looks like to my family and so many others throughout the years. I’m honored to call them friends.
As I look back and reflect on where we have been, I can’t help but feeling like George Bailey from “It's a Wonderful Life” hearing Clarence tell him, “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” Staying put, listening to Louie Giglio’s advice, and not leaving, when I felt the urge to run, has been life-changing for me. I’m grateful to have so many life-long friends here at Christ’s Chapel. Happy 30th Birthday, church! Here’s to the next 30 years!