Category Archives: Church Planting

How to Offer Constructive Criticism

Church Planting Leadership

Here’s something I learned from my recent meeting with a church consultant—nothing that he taught me, but some things that I perceived in the way he handled the meeting with me.

One of the most important things a person in leadership can learn is how to offer constructive criticism to an employee or coworker or even a boss, but this is even more important a skill for spiritual leaders. Spiritual issues are touchy and personal, and they touch on the very core of a person’s character. Therefore, offering someone criticism about spiritual matters is a very difficult thing to do. This consultant did an excellent job with me, and so I’m sharing the process here for you as well as for my own future reference.

How to Offer Constructive Criticism

  • Describe the general source of the critique. I did interviews with 40 people and at least 15 people mentioned a specific complaint.
  • Describe the specific complaint without generalizations. They said you wouldn’t do visitation.
  • Ask for feedback from the listener. Where do you think that idea came from?
  • Give a specific context, a specific example, and name a specific person whom the listener trusts. [name] said that when [event] you [action].
  • Interact with the listener again on that point.
  • Describe a specific new behavior to employ from the perspective of that person. People need the physical contact and your actual presence to know you care.
  • If necessary, give one example of how the new behavior makes a difference. When [person] faced [a similar situation] [action] and the end result was [result].
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We have a house!

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

I’m just posting this as a quick note to all of you who care…

We have a new house!

This morning at 9:30, we signed the final paperwork to close on our new house. There still are some things the builder is doing to put the finishing touches on it, but we have started moving things over!

Please join us in prayer that God would make our new home a central point for fruitful ministry in Lafayette.

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Time in Crown Point went well

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

Jen and I had a good time at Hillside Community Church in Crown Point this past weekend. They were having their missions conference this month, and I was the featured guest this weekend. Since their theme was “His passion, our purpose; his purpose, our passion,” I dealt with the question of what was the number one thing on the heart of Jesus himself.

It turns out that the number one thing on the heart of Jesus was submission to the will of his Father. So what does it mean to share the same passion as Jesus? What does it mean to be passionately submitted to the will of the Father, and why do we find it so hard? I’ll deal with that in a later post (I hope to get my sermon uploaded to my podcast soon.)

Anyway, the church is pretty healthy and is raising money to support their missions budget for this next year. Last year, they raised over $20,000, and this year they are hoping for $30,000!

Thank you for your prayers for us. It looks like we will soon be having a new church partner and perhaps some individual supporters as well!

Praise God!

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Making a Presentation in Crown Point

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

I’m writing this post from Jen’s parents’ house in Weeler, Indiana because tomorrow, Jen and I have the privilege of presenting our vision for Lafayette to Hillside Community Church in Crown Point. I will be giving our basic presentation during their Sunday School time. Then, I will be preaching at the morning service and leading an interactive study at their evening service as well.

If you think of us tomorrow, please pray that God would give us favor with some key members of the congregation there and that we could have some kind of partnership develop between us and Hillside!

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Lafayette is below average for church attendance

Front Page Lafayette

I grabbed this statistical information from this website, but I wanted to post to my blog here something that my wife and I have known for about a year now. Lafayette is below the national average for churchgoers.


Top 15 Reporting Religious Bodies
Lafayette, IN
Church, Christian, or Religious Body Adherents (and rank) Congregations
in 2000 in 1990 in 2000 in 1990
Catholic Church, The 21,009 (1)   12,146 (1)   7 6
United Methodist Church, The 8,517 (2)   10,497 (2)   32 35
Presbyterian Church (USA) 5,361 (3)   6,034 (3)   13 14
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 3,988 (4)   1,880 (9)   14 7
Southern Baptist Convention 2,765 (5)   2,377 (8)   13 12
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod 2,720 (6)   2,450 (7)   4 4
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada 2,137 (7)   3,071 (6)   3 3
General Association of Regular Baptist Churches 2,117 (8)   NA     4 NA
Independent, Charismatic Churches 2,000 (9)   0 ()   1 0
American Baptist Churches in the USA 1,961 (10)   3,140 (5)   6 8
Assemblies of God 1,953 (11)   3,489 (4)   7 5
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 1,428 (12)   1,820 (10)   5 5
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The 1,380 (13)   1,109 (13)   4 4
United Church of Christ 1,181 (14)   1,214 (12)   4 4
Wesleyan Church, The 1,172 (15)   1,441 (11)   7 9

Metropolitan Population, 2000 Census:   182,821
Percent of Population Claimed by
Reporting Groups:
  37.4%

National Average: 50.2% claimed

Reporting Groups (149 possible): 44 (43 of 133 in 1990)
Total Reported Adherents: 68,304 (58,013 in 1990)
Total Reported Congregations: 173 (163 in 1990)

The metro area included 2 counties (or equivalent) at the time of the 2000 census:
  Clinton County, IN; Tippecanoe County, IN
The newly published book Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States 2000 includes a CD that allows users to determine such lists for any selected group of counties.
Source: Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States 2000
Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1990
Both studies, copyrighted by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, are published by the Glenmary Research Center, Nashville, Tenn. More information is available at www.glenmary.org/grc.
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Free Demographics

Church Planting Leadership

I just came across a wonderful set of resources for free demographic information. One of the coolest sites I’ve seen in a while is run by USAToday:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bythenumbers/front.htm

But, for many resources all packed together, check out this site.

http://www.efca.org/planting/demographics/index.html

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Churches and Marketing

Church Planting Leadership

As a result of reading a couple of blogs on a regular basis, I’m getting increasingly interested in marketing. As a church planter, marketing is something that I will soon have to be dealing with directly, but I’m amazed to see the key points of crossover between the world of marketing today and the church. A few visits to some key marketing sites online will show you what I mean. Here are some quick links.

I don’t read this blogs directly, but I regularly check a blog called Presentation Zen that recently mentioned them again. (I read Presentation Zen because it is an excellent site about how to effectively present information to groups of people through the use of speaking as well as audio/visual media. It’s right up the alley of any pastor who really cares about communicating in a technological age.)

Marketing is Evolving

You see, the introduction of the internet has created not just an “Information Age” but a “Communication Age” and most importantly, the ways people communicate and their expectations in communication have changed dramatically.

The old style of marketing

The basic argument is that marketing is not a one-way street. The old way of doing things was to research your “target audience” or your “demographic” or something like that, identify the key “felt needs” of that demographic, and then promote your product in a way that touched on those key needs.

The church has been struggling with these concepts for years. Some church leaders say that all marketing is playing to the materialistic, humanistic, selfish instincts of sinful people and therefore should be avoided. Some believe that marketing is just the “way of the world” so to speak and that to reach the market-driven culture, you need to become a market-savvy church.

Granted, there is truth on both sides of that fence; however, what both sides are missing is that marketing is no longer this one-way kind of communication whereby the marketer attempts to target an audience and present a product to them.

The new way

According to these blogging guys (who have written a number of books and articles as well), the new kind of marketing is a conversation that is happening on multiple levels all at the same time.

The key concept is called the era of the cluetrain and it has been promoted in a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual

Here are a couple of the “95 Theses” that stand out to me.
* Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
* Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.
* The inflated self-important jargon you sling around — in the press, at your conferences — what’s that got to do with us?
* If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

If you change “market” to “community” and “company” to church, it’s something to think about.

The Key Question

Of course, the key question is, “What will church leaders be doing in the midst of this changing culture?”

Associated Books

I haven’t read any of these marketing books, but this is a short list of the ones that seem the most interesting to me right now:

All Marketers Are Liars : The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World
All Marketers Are Liars

Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft  PowerPoint  to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Bpg-Other)
Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire.

The Art of the Start : The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

If I get around to reading some of these, I hope to review them here. Do you have any suggestions.

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Consecrate Yourselves

Front Page Lafayette Leadership

Here’s another short post (not having Internet at the home and not having an internet enabled office has really slowed down my blogging). Jen and I are in Peoria, Illinois at the Midwest Baptist Conference’s Leadership Retreat. This is my second year to come to the retreat, and I’m really excited about it. Mostly, I’m excited because this year, I’m here as a church planter. A good number of my friends are here too, and I have the joy of picking their brains to hear what they have been doing in their churches.

It’s amazing to me that when I hear someone else’s story, if it’s good, I want to do it too. If I hear that some program or effort worked for one person, I want to do the same thing (of course, I want to customize it myself). I am addicted to competition and comparisons.

Conferences are good for me because they inspire me. Conferences are bad for me because they make me think about all the things I could/should be doing differently to the point of making me feel either guilty for not doing all of that or depressed that I can’t do it all. Conferences are good for me because I get to meet really great people and network. Conferences are bad for me because I regularly compare myself to all of those people and feel either superior or inferior.

Why can’t I just be the person God is calling me to be and leave it at that?

Because the person God is calling me to be is never perfectly clear.

I’ll get specific.

The theme of this conference and the main message of the evening tonight come from Joshua 3:5. This is what it says in the NIV.

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
—Joshua 3:5

Tonight, the speaker (Paul Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Baptist General Conference) talked to us about how consecrating something means to set something apart for God, and that often boils down to doing something God’s way rather than doing it our own way. This is where I find a lot of difficulty.

How do I know if I’m doing something “my way” or “God’s way”? Specifically, I’m in the process of starting a brand new church in Lafayette. There are many different methods for doing that. Some plan for a big event “Launch Sunday” and go from there. Some plan for a “soft launch” and build up from that. I have my own strategy for how to go about doing things, but whose to say that my strategy is “my plan” or “God’s plan”?

You might think this is strange coming from a pastor, but I, unlike many others who are in ministry, have very few moments in my life where I would say, “I really sensed God’s leading to do …” I heard a number of those comments tonight from people. However, I don’t get those kind of impressions. God speaks to me in different ways. I’m still learning to discern his voice, but how do I consecrate myself to his service and to do things his way when I don’t really know what “his way” is?

I wonder if others know what I’m talking about. Do other people tend to cringe when they hear someone say, “God told me…” or “I sensed God leading me to …”?

Why do I bring this up?

I bring it up because I think I have a pretty good understanding of what it means to consecrate yourself. Not that I do it perfectly or not, but I think I’m developing a good understanding of it. As I see it, being consecrated to God means that my life is not my own, it belongs to God. Then, when it comes to practical decision making, this is my process.

  1. Where God’s Word is clear on how to behave or think, I will obey.
  2. If God’s Word is not clear on an issue, I will decide based on the promptings of the Spirit, my own intuition, and my understanding of God’s character (based on related issues from Scripture).
  3. If God’s Word is not clear on an issue and I don’t have a “prompting” regarding the decision, I will base my decision on the wisdom of those who have gone before me as filtered through the lens of my understanding of Scripture.
  4. When all else fails, I will decide based on the level of wisdom God has already given me.

The only problem left is to decide how long to stick with stage 2 before moving on to stage 3. How long should I seek the “prompting” before moving to stage 3? According to some, stage 3 and 4 are inappropriate for a spiritual leader. If there is no clear teaching from Scripture or no prompting from the Spirit, then the decision should be postponed.

But isn’t that a little simple-minded? There is no proof that King Solomon spent an hour in prayer before dishing out his great wisdom. Now, he isn’t a great example because he misused a lot of his wisdom, but the point remains. The Bible praised his wisdom even though he didn’t agonize in prayer over his decisions.

So what does this all mean for spiritual leaders today? Well, of course it means that we should be very familiar with the clear teaching of the Bible and also very familiar with the character of God. Most every decision we will make can be decided based on those two things alone. But for the others, perhaps consecrating ourselves means simply to dedicate our decision and the results to God.

Is it just possible that God gave his people brains so that they could use them to make good well-informed decisions? What do you think?

Where should we draw the line between making wise decisions and pridefully following our own plans while ignoring God’s will?

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We’ve Moved to Lafayette!

Front Page Lafayette

Jen, Charlie, Katie and I are safely settling into our new apartment in Lafayette. We made the move on Monday with the help of a TON of people from our church, Jen’s parents, some relatives and a couple of our new friends from Lafayette. Tuesday was all about opening boxes and other random things. Today is Wednesday and I’ve signed up for a new cellular phone (oooh black Moto RAZR on a big sale with Cingular), signed up for local phone service through Packet8, Internet and TV through Insight, and did it all because I found a free wireless hotspot at a Panera bread right near our apartment!

I don’t have time now to write up the whole update on how the move went because I need to get home. Praise God with us that so much is coming together!

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We need a name

Church Planting Front Page Lafayette

I know it has taken me far too long since I last wrote to my blog, but the weather here is pretty cold and my fingers just won’t type as well as they should!

I spoke with Steve over at the Midwest Church Planting office to see what it’s going to take for us to start drawing support from them so that we can make our move to Lafayette. It turns out, that we are at 57% of our needed support and that we are ready to start drawing on those funds.

All we have to do is incorporate as a church, and then MCP will send a check once a month to our church, and my paycheck will officially come from the bank account of the new church.

That means we need a name.

If you haven’t already read my other article on naming philosophy, please check it out now. “What’s in a name?”, but here’s the basic point.

I’m pretty sold on the idea of having a generic, geographically focused name for the main organization of the church with “sub-brands” for each of the ministries of the church. Our worship service might be branded “Upward” or something like that. If we went this route, some possible names are:

  • Lafayette Community Church
  • South County Church

However, I could be swayed to pick a name that is based on a predominant metaphor for the church. Our predominant metaphor is that of people taking spiritual growth seriously, one step at a time. Some possible names are:

  • The Next Level Church (but it’s already been done in other parts of the country)
  • New Day Church
  • FORWARD church

Give me some feedback!

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Top Ten Prayer Requests — December 2005

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

Jen and I have been regularly sending out our prayer requests every few months or so, and I thought that I’d post our next set on the blog here. God has really been answering some prayers too, so I’ll post some praises first:

Praises:

  • Jen and I have signed final approval paperwork on our house. As soon as the building permits get approved, they will start the work. Praise God for helping us make those decisions.
  • Greg is continuing to tell people about us and get us contacts with people moving into the area. Praise God for helping us meet him!
  • Packing and move preparations are coming along nicely, and we plan to make the move on January 2! Praise God that Jen enjoys packing!

Our Top Ten Requests for December.

Here are our top ten requests for this next month.

  • That our priorities would be God’s priorities.
  • That God would prepare the hearts of key people in Laf. to receive the gospel.
  • That our funding would jump to the next level soon.
  • That our final month at NWBC would be filled with grace.
  • That our move to Laf. on Jan 2 would go smoothly with good weather.
  • That Charlie would have good good-byes with his friends here in Chicago.
  • That God would guide our decisions about our new home.
  • That we would be able to finalize our church name and incorporation.
  • That we would have wisdom raising our kids.
  • That God would continue to work miracles for his own glory!
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Signing Papers, Getting More Land

Front Page Lafayette

Today, Jen and I went down to Lafayette to have a final signing meeting with Kim at Gunstra Builders. It’s amazing how the finality of signing papers can really make you nervous. Last week, I was completely thrilled about every aspect of the building process even though we have already signed some preliminary papers and stuff. However, today, we saw our final architectural drawings, and signed them. We saw our final lot layout, and signed it.

We signed perhaps 20 different sheets of paper today, and at the end of it all, I’m very aware of the finality of it all. We can’t make any changes from this point on without incurring extra charges, and we are locked in to a final number for a loan that just kinda scares us. Now, we are still convinced that God is leading us through this, but it just makes the large nature of this venture that much more real to us.

Our Lot Got Bigger!

Now, one of the things that really was interesting about today was that we got a paper that showed us the actual dimensions of our plot of land, and it’s twice as big as we had thought it was! I was really amazed. There is a ditch that runs along the border of the development to provide drainage from the flood plain, and we thought originally that our lot extended to the border of the ditch. However, today we found out that our land actually runs to the other side of the ditch and then some. In fact, it seems to be about twice as long as what we had originally thought!

So we just got twice as much land as we had originally planned. But I feel somehow ripped off! I’m so amazed at myself for feeling this way. Last week, we had a small piece of land that was going to be perfect for us with a ditch behind us that prevented any other construction from taking place behind our house. It was a great deal, but today, we own a piece of land with a ditch running right through the middle of it! It’s so strange how that has made me feel awkward about our land.

I have to smile at myself for all of that.

Sensing God at Work

Nevertheless, it really is amazing to me how God is blessing us. He is preparing a wonderful place for us in a wonderful neighborhood, and we trust that he is also moving ahead of us in the hearts of the people who live there. I really believe that God is going to use this new church to be an incredible ministry reaching people for himself throughout the whole county. I’m getting really excited.

I’m so convinced that God is going to change the lives of a great number of people through this new church, and I can’t wait to get there to get started. However, we still have some big needs. I plan to get a part time job as a substitute teacher, and Jen is considering getting a job too, but for us to get our ministry off to a good start, we still need a number of supporters to join us.

Support Need

Please pray for us.

Also, if you are reading this blog, let me ask you to pray about possibly supporting us in our endeavor. Making any size pledge would be a great help to us, and it’s really easy. You don’t even have to send any money now. Just click the link and fill our our easy online response form.

God bless!

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What’s in a name?

Church Planting Lafayette

I posted this over at our church plant website
(www.lafayetteinitiative.com),
but I’m copying it here for those who don’t read the other site too much.
Please post your comments, and if you want to participate in our church
name straw poll,
click
here
. And whether you can participate in the poll or not, please take
a moment to pray for us.


I’m about to bring up the topic of what we should name our new church
in Lafayette. Are you ready?

Basic Naming Philosophies

As I see it, there are really only a few basic naming philosophies when
it comes to naming a church.

Name the church according to how many churches there are in that community of the same denomination.

  • In the town where I grew up, there was First Baptist, First Nazarene,
    and First Southern Baptist all within a mile of each other.

Name the church after the church’s location.

  • Willow Creek Community Church got its name from its first meeting
    place, the Willow Creek theater.

  • Saddleback Community Church is officially “Saddleback Valley
    Community Church” I believe, and it got its name from the fact that it is
    in the “Saddleback Valley” of Southern California.

Name the church after a patron saint.

  • Of course this kind of naming scheme is rarely employed by
    Protestants who don’t seem to think that some saints are more saintly
    than the rest of us.

Name the church after the church’s predominant metaphor.

  • This is employed by Mosaic in Southern California.
  • Another example is “Faith” which is employed by many denominations.

Name the church after something vague that will lose all meaning in a few years.

  • I’m sad to say that the church in which I currently am serving has
    employed this tactic. We are Northwest Baptist Church, but we are on the
    northside of the city, we are northeast of “Northeastern University” and
    we are southwest of “Northwestern University.” No one has ever been able
    to explain to me just what we are north and west from.

Basic Naming Principles

These are some of the basic principles for church names that people talk
about these days.

  • Church names should be unique and memorable.
  • Church names should communicate something meaningful to the
    unchurched (denominational names are fading away from church signs at a
    remarkable pace).

  • Church names should be a rallying point of identity for the members
    of the congregation.

However, I have to wonder what names like that accomplish. In my
estimation, names like that serve to do a few things well.

  • They show how churches are distinct from each other.
  • They give people a sense of solidarity with their church but not
    necessarily with other churches.

  • They give the well-meaning unchurched a sense of confusion as they
    wonder which church they should attend in the myriad of choices.

  • They give the hardened skeptic even more reasons to make fun of the
    church because there goes another group of religious nuts trying to
    pretend they are something they really are not. I can hear them say,
    “Hope Community? I’ve seen happier faces in line at the DMV!”

  • Any name that sounds like an organization will turn off members of
    the Postmodern Generations because they are inherently opposed to
    “organized” religion.

My Point of View

I think it is important for churches to be “marketable” in our market
driven society, but that “marketability” should not come at the expense
of our Christ-given mission: to demonstrate our love for God, to
demonstrate our love for the entire body of Christ, to serve others like
Jesus did, and to spread the good news of Jesus to all the
world.

As such, I don’t have anything wrong with any church that selects a
snappy name for itself to communicate their uniqueness (I know of one
church called “Threads” and a couple churches called “The Next Level
Church.”) However, it is my dream to see the church (here I’m speaking of
the total body of believers) in a community to share a name that
demonstrates the unity of the body both to insiders and to outsiders.
After all, Jesus told us that we would be known as his disciples by how
much love we show each other!

My “Solution”

I’m not going to presume to tell others what they should do in this
situation, but as it regards our church planting efforts in Lafayette, I
am becoming increasingly sold on this idea for a naming scheme.

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  • For the church organization itself, we will pick a generic name that
    references our geographic region and connects us as a group of people to
    Jesus Christ. Some examples of that would be:

    • Christ’s Church of Lafayette
    • South County Church
    • Lafayette Christian Community

  • For the specific ministries of the church, we will select unique,
    marketable names and base our advertising on the individual ministries
    rather on the church as an organization. However, when we refer to the
    ministries, we will say, “Ministry Name: A Ministry of South County

    Church” or something like that.
    The advantage of this way of doing things is that our church will never
    feel like a monolithic organization with programs as much as it will feel
    like a network of interrelated elements that minister to people wherever
    they are.

  • Then, as soon as we can, we will pursue using our generic name to
    plant daughter churches (North County Church), and to network with
    existing churches to present a unified presence (Lafayette Church
    Network) to the people of the area.

    Holding Two Things in Tension

    • Jesus wants us to be unified and claims that our loving unity will be
      the hallmark of our true connection with him.

    • Jesus wants us to reach people and in our society that means
      marketability.

    We need to be forming churches that connect to people wherever they are
    in their spiritual journey and then draw them together in loving unity
    with fellow believers.

    I’d like to hear your feedback on this. When it comes to a church, what’s
    in a name?

    Published by:
  • Greg’s Story

    Front Page Lafayette Spiritual Health

    While Jen and I were looking for a home in Lafayette, God led us to
    meet a man who not only would sell us a great home, but who also was to
    join us as one of our first ministry partners. We still can’t believe the
    amazing ways God is working to bring us together with people who love him
    and are eager to share his love with others. I have asked Greg to share
    just a little of what God has been doing in his life. Here’s his
    story.

    My name is Greg and I am a recovering drug addict and a Christian. At
    this writing I have 485 days clean from drugs and alcohol. I can honestly
    say that with the help of Narcotics Anonymous and God’s grace that the
    obsession and compulsion to use drugs has been lifted from me.

    I used to see the world very differently. Today I have had a
    spiritual awakening as a result of working the 12 steps and developing a
    relationship with God. I feel a great calling to give back what I have
    received, unconditional love, understanding, fellowship, and serenity. I
    look forward to the opportunity to serve God and my fellow man. I don’t
    see coincidences anymore, I see God at work in my life.

    My life has been a series of chaotic events up until these last 16
    months. My Father abused me both physically and emotionally from as early
    as I can remember. My parents divorced at age 5 and my Mother re-married
    at age 6. My Stepfather was in the restaurant industry and we moved 13
    times from ages 6-14. I continued to be sent to my Father’s home during
    this time where he would abuse me, and then threaten me so that I
    wouldn’t tell my Mother. At age 14 our relationship ended because he
    was convicted of molesting my stepsister. At age 15 I tried drugs for the
    first time. At age 16 I dropped out of high school. Ages 16-32 were a
    haze of drugs, jobs, and bouts with depression, rage and
    resentment.

    At age 25 I got involved in a church in East Lansing Michigan. My
    Wife and I were baptized and were married there. I caught a glimpse of a
    spiritual life. But, 1 month before my Wife and I were to be married we
    moved in together. An elder of the church found out and came to me with
    these words, “I will not stand by and allow you to sully the name of
    Jesus Christ!” My Wife stayed with a girlfriend until we were married,
    but I let a resentment grow. We were married in that church, and I never
    set foot in it again. It wasn’t very long until I picked up where I had
    left off before going to that church, and I felt even further away from
    God than I ever had before.

    Finally, on June 10th 2004, my dear Wife confronted me with
    paraphernalia and bank statements, and the long days of lying, stealing,
    cheating, and self-destruction were over. I experienced this overwhelming
    feeling of relief that I didn’t have to lie anymore.

    You see, my Wife never knew. I kept my drug use a secret, an
    extremely terrible secret. I thank God every day that she found
    out.

    I found recovery in Narcotic Anonymous. A spiritual, not religious,
    program. After I surrendered to this program, the miracles began to
    happen almost immediately. 2 days after I got clean I got a promotion at
    work that allowed me to earn more money than I thought possible. 2 weeks
    after I got clean, we found out that we were pregnant with our second
    child. After I had worked my 6th step I got a call out of nowhere from my
    Father after 19 years. I was able to forgive him, and find peace in
    closure. 6 months to the day I got clean my family and I moved into a
    brand new home. And there have been many more miracles in my life, big
    and small. I know now that God doesn’t give me anything until I am
    ready to handle it.

    No one put a gun to my head and forced me to use drugs. I made that
    choice all on my own. Lots of people have crumby childhoods and don’t
    use drugs. I felt a sense of entitlement, like I was special, like I had
    the right to commit suicide on the time payment plan. I hated myself, and
    had a distorted view of the world. I’ve described my state during
    active addiction like a hole, a hole in my soul that I was trying to
    fill. Whether it was with drugs, sex, rock and roll, cheeseburgers, self-
    pity, or video games, I was trying to fill that hole. It wasn’t until I
    developed a relationship with God that I felt that hole fill. It filled
    with God’s love.

    Then, one day recently, I met the Mikels family. Jeff Mikels told me
    a little about his vision for a new church in Lafayette, Indiana. I
    became curious enough to check out his web site. I liked what I read. I
    felt God’s hand guiding me toward being a part of this new church. I
    prayed and meditated about it, and began to feel a call to service. I
    would like to be able to counsel the still suffering addict through a
    Christian based 12-step program. I called Jeff and told him a little
    about what I felt called to do. Jeff encouraged me to write my story so
    that he could post it on his web site. If I only help 1 person by sharing
    this story, then it was what God intended.

    Thank you for letting me share.

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