My name is Jeff Mikels. I was born to Mark and Linda Mikels three years to the day after my sister Jodi was. My dad is a pastor and my mom has been involved in all levels of education throughout my life. I was born in touristy Durango, Colorado, and lived there until I was three years old.
A lot happened to me when I was three. In February of that year, I went to a class where a nice lady was teaching about heaven and hell and what it took to go to heaven after you die. She talked to us about asking Jesus to come into our hearts, so when I got home that afternoon, I asked my mom and dad how I could ask Jesus into my heart. My dad talked with me about what that meant, and I prayed with him right then.
Also during that year, I consciously remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. For some reason, I consistently answered that I wanted to be a pastor even though I didn’t know what that meant at all.
Finally, in the fall of that year, my family moved to Southern California to a town called Apple Valley so my dad could pastor First Baptist Church of Apple Valley.
Throughout my growing up years, I consistently had to re-evaluate whether or not God really wanted me to become a pastor. I always had difficulty with three things.
- I didn’t know what it meant to really love God. I knew all about God, but really knowing and loving Him was a different matter.
- I didn’t really like people, and I realized that to be a pastor meant loving people too.
God really started to change my heart in a lot of ways when I was in Junior High. For a couple weeks at a time during Junior High, I would get depressed thinking about my relationship with God, and I would pray about it and stew over it. Then, in August of 1989, a few weeks before I started ninth grade, I renewed my commitment to God and I made a new one. I told God that I would pursue every opportunity He brought my way. If I could be part of a youth group, I would. If I could go on a mission trip, I would.
Things really began to change for me that Spring when I had the opportunity to go to Mexico on a mission trip with my youth group. While there, God completely revealed himself to me some special ways. First of all, he gave me an immediate and specific answer to a prayer that I prayed while on that trip. It was a small request, but I just asked God to do something, and before I knew it, He had done it! I couldn’t believe that He would love me enough to answer a prayer of mine like that!
Also on that trip, God opened up my heart to experiencing his presence through songs of worship and praise. Before that trip, I hated most forms of music especially group singing. What’s more, I had even made a promise to myself about a year before that I would never stand in front of people leading them in singing. Well, within 9 months, I had learned guitar myself and was leading singing for our youth group, and within a year, I had launched with a friend of mine a youth-oriented and youth-run Bible Study on Saturday mornings that was running over 25 in attendance! God had completely changed me.
After high school, I went to Wheaton College, and during the Spring of my first year, my dad resigned from his position at First Baptist. I went home for the summer, and my family attended different churches but mostly went to Community Baptist Church Manhattan Beach (now called Journey of Faith).
By the end of the summer, God called my dad to start a brand new church based on a ministry philosophy that simplifies everything into experiencing Jesus and expressing his love. Sonlife Community Church has brought new life to many people since it started in 1994.
I was so impressed with the worship ministry at Community Baptist that I actually got myself a position there as worship leader intern under the leadership of Dave Detwiler for the following summer (1995).
During that summer, God taught me what it meant to love another person, because it was during that summer when I met and fell in love with my wife Jennifer. We were married the week after I graduated from Wheaton (B.S. Math & Philosophy), and by the end of that summer, we were living in Denver and I had started classes at Denver Seminary.
I graduated in 2000 with a job as part time worship pastor at Castle Oaks Evangelical Covenant Church in Castle Rock, Colorado, but by the end of that year, I had accepted a call from God and Northwest Baptist Church in Chicago to be their pastor.
After four years in Chicago, I had the privilege of attending the MidAmerica Church Planter’s Assessment Center where I and my wife were grilled, tested, evaluated, and finally directly challenged to become church planters (people who start new churches from scratch). A year later, with nearly $150,000 of funding raised from family, friends, and other churches, we moved to Lafayette, Indiana to begin a new work from the ground up.
That was 2006, and in the years since, God has steadily and gradually grown a fellowship of believers under the name of Lafayette Community Church.
In the years since 2006, God has also been growing me. He is continuing to teach me what it means to love people, serve people, and lead people. He is teaching me what it means to be a pastor, a father, a husband, and a friend. I’m glad to say He isn’t finished with me yet!
It’s my heart’s desire, my passion, and my calling from God to lead people another step closer to Jesus—leading people to take one step of spiritual growth beyond where they currently are.
If I can do anything to help you take your next steps of spiritual growth, don’t hesitate to contact me!
j e f f ( at ) m i k e l s . c c