Christina Lowery: Soft Hearts, Tough Skin, and Holding People With Open Hands

Episode 2 January 12, 2022 01:09:34
Christina Lowery: Soft Hearts, Tough Skin, and Holding People With Open Hands
We Are Vineyard
Christina Lowery: Soft Hearts, Tough Skin, and Holding People With Open Hands
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Show Notes

In this episode of We Are Vineyard, Christina Lowery shares her parents’ miraculous story of encountering the Lord for the first time, and her own story of growing up in the church, pursuing her own relationship with God and entering a life of ministry. Jay and Christina then dig deeper into the reality of the Lowery’s church planting experience, from the slow start to the sudden growth they were unprepared for, and the hardships they weathered that led to Christina stepping into the role of lead pastor. This is a powerful story of walking in obedience to the Lord that will encourage anyone who has been in ministry for a while.

Christina Lowery is the Associate National Director for Church Health and Development.  Early in her ministry career, Christina served as the Events Director for a large student internship at Teen Mania Ministries (Acquire the Fire) in Tyler, TX.  In 2001, she and her husband Joel joined a local Vineyard Church there, and served on the pastoral team for several years until they were called to move back to Virginia and plant Crossroads ChurchChristina and Joel have co-pastored Crossroads Church in Fredericksburg, VA since 2008. As a Lead Pastor, Christina has been a big-picture thinker and creative visionary, responsible for communicating and driving the vision and mission of the church forward. She finds great joy in preaching and teaching, leadership development, and building systems that foster church health and growth.

In addition to her local leadership at Crossroads Church, she has served in other leadership roles with the Vineyard, such as an Area Leader in Northern and Central Virginia for ten years (2009-2019) and on the Vineyard Women in Leadership Team for the past three years (2018-2021). 

Joel and Christina have been married for 23 years and have 3 amazing kids – Hannah (18), Caleb (15) and Zoe (8).  The Lowery family loves to travel and so far, their favorite destination is Maui, with its warm sun and beautiful island beaches. 

Show Notes:
Crossroads Church
https://www.mycrossroadschurch.com
Starting a New Church by Ralph Moore
https://amzn.to/3FxXE48
Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas
https://amzn.to/3qtwAg7
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:12 We're at our regional conference at the time, Telstra was our regional leader and we're just kind of telling him what happened. And he just looked us in the eyes and he said, you guys need to learn to have a soft heart and tough skin, soft heart and tough skin. That statement never left us. And the other thing that he had said is that you need to learn to hold people with open hands. And so what that means, and if you could see me right now, I've got my hands open with my fingers spread. And when you hold people with open hands, they will slip out a lot easier. You're not holding on tight to them where it's going to hurt both you and them when it's time for them to move on. And so that image as well, has always been very foundational for us. Speaker 2 00:01:03 Welcome to the VR vineyard podcast conversations to help us grow in with Jesus and each other. In today's episode, our hosts, Jay Pathak national director for vineyard USA talks with Christina Lowery, the associate national director for church health and development. Let's listen in, Speaker 3 00:01:33 Talk to you. Thanks for making some time. Speaker 1 00:01:34 Thanks for having me. It's going to be here. Speaker 3 00:01:36 It should be fun. And so tell us a little bit about where you're from, what you're doing right now. Yeah, a little bit about you. Speaker 1 00:01:45 I grew up in Virginia in Manassas, Virginia, which if you're a civil war history buff, lots of civil wars. Now Speaker 3 00:01:55 I'd like to pretend like Speaker 1 00:01:58 There was the north side and the south side, um, very historic area, um, very pretty close to Washington DC. Um, and just, uh, it's a very interesting area to grow up in. I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were born again and filled with the holy spirit, actually in the Catholic church, there was a massive charismatic renewal going on, um, in the seventies or in the Jesus movement and just a radical salvation. And they ended up eventually at a Bapticostal church as what they'd like to call it. Uh, and so that's the church that I was raised in and was there for, um, all the way into my young twenties. And so in Manassas and Manassas. Yep. Oh, that's interesting. And yeah, that's actually where I met my husband, Joel, in the preschool room of this little church in Manassas, Virginia. And so we've known each other, our whole lives, um, from the search Speaker 3 00:02:54 He's telling me there's pictures of the two of you together. Speaker 1 00:02:59 Yes. We from preschool. I don't know about preschool. We, I have my, one of my favorite pictures is at a church picnic and we're in one of those relay races. I am killing it. Like we're doing a wheelbarrow race and I am beating him. So I'm so glad that we have that. Speaker 3 00:03:16 I think I now know why that's one of your favorite pictures. Got it. Good. Okay. And then, and then they were, so they were where they raised casts. Speaker 1 00:03:25 Uh, my dad was a Italian family. Um, my mom was raised Nazarene and, um, but, but they were both very nominal in their faith at that point. Speaker 3 00:03:35 Um, my we're going to a Catholic church just because, Speaker 1 00:03:38 So the story goes is that they weren't going to church on a regular basis. My mom actually got saved in a hotel room in the middle of the night. She was contemplating suicide and she found a Gideon Bible and just a classic story. She opened the Bible and whatever verse it was that she read, it was exactly what she needed to hear. And then she flipped to the back of the Bible and prayed the prayer of salvation based on what was there in the Bible. So she didn't really know much about going to church. And so she would go to my dad's Catholic church and there happened to be this filled with the holy spirit Catholic priests that she was just loving it. So she brought dad and one night the Catholic priest was walking around the circle and every time he touched someone's head, they would just start speaking in tongues. Speaker 1 00:04:25 And so, um, my dad's story is that, so my dad was not, he would not call himself saved at that point or given his life to Jesus. But the priest is walking around. He lays a hand on my mom had, and she just starts speaking in tongues. And then the priest looks at my dad and my dad looks up and he says, I don't think I'm ready for this. And then the priest lays his hands on my dad and he just immediately started speaking into it. And yeah, so my dad says I got saved and filled with the holy spirit at the same time. Wow. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:04:58 Gideon's man. Like how many people have those folks touched? You know, like for me in campus they would be there handing out Bibles at Ohio state. And then of course in hotels, they're always in hotels, a little, little sneak peek. Interesting thing. If you've not checked the Bibles in hotels, there's often money in them. Really? Yeah. Speaker 1 00:05:24 We'll see. As they get. So my dad actually ended up becoming a Gideon because it, because of mom's story and she actually used to travel for the Gideons and tell her story at their conferences and everything. So dad became a Gideon. So growing up as the Gideon's child, anytime I'm in a hotel, I pulled that Bible out and open it up, at least for the maids deceit. I've never found money though. So now I'm really disappointed. Okay. Speaker 3 00:05:47 Multiple times. Yeah. Yeah. Somebody told me that and I do, I take it every time. I don't know, intrigue mystery. I'm not saying, okay. So, so you're raised in this Bapticostal thing. You and Joel meet each other in preschool. You're, you're killing him and wheelbarrow, racist church, Speaker 1 00:06:05 Picnics and sword drills, and so channels. Speaker 3 00:06:08 So goodness. Okay. For those that are not initiated, I only know this because I'm married to a church kid who would do sword drills for, for those. And I would have known otherwise. Right. For those of you that don't know what a sword drills, what is a sword drill. Speaker 1 00:06:23 So they would have the kids like sitting around a table and you would hold your Bible upright with your thumbs, like on the pages could not open it. And then your teacher would call out a verse and you would rip through the Bible and find that verse and read it. And then yeah, if you Speaker 3 00:06:38 Could read it first, Speaker 1 00:06:40 It was just a competition. So then people will get, yeah. So we'd go up against different people. Speaker 3 00:06:45 So see, this is a different, I I'm, I'm going to look like a church kid now. Cause I, I though something else that I, I thought that you held this sword drill above your head because like, sometimes I have seen Speaker 1 00:06:59 That before, but we Speaker 3 00:07:00 Did it because if you held it in your lap, you could start cheating. Speaker 1 00:07:04 Well, we did. Yeah. We didn't put it on our lap. It was always on the table. Speaker 3 00:07:07 Right. Okay. Yeah. Fair enough. Cause then you could kind of put your thumb. Well, Speaker 1 00:07:11 You didn't know the, that, Speaker 3 00:07:12 But you could put, you could have more than one spot. You'd be like, okay, I'm going to put like my pointer finger, you know what I'm saying? Like where it's a new Testament break and then you kinda like, pre-set like the way a magician does with the record anyway. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So you're like a church you're doing sword drills. You're a Bapticostal. Yup. You're what did you just say? I'm a child of the, of the Gideons. Wow. Okay. So all of that's happening all through high school, you know, I assume you start dating Joel sometime in high school. No, Speaker 1 00:07:49 No, no. Joel was like a brother for a long time. Joel knew all my boyfriends. Like he was friends with it. There were times that I'm not kidding you. There were times that I would go out with my boyfriend with Joel and some other people, kids from the church and I had a very early curfew, so they dropped me off at home and then they'd all go out together. Was very common. Yeah. So Speaker 3 00:08:12 Shout out to the old boyfriends, anybody listening. Okay. So, so Speaker 1 00:08:19 There weren't that many. Okay. Speaker 3 00:08:21 I saw like I saw like lines in my mind when you said it, so, okay. So you don't date in high school? Speaker 1 00:08:29 I had one formal boyfriend in high school yet. And then college, Speaker 3 00:08:33 See now you're, you're really setting the record straight. Okay. So, so then when do you start dating Joel Speaker 1 00:08:38 After college? And even that is, uh, is the story. Um, he was my best friend. Um, in fact, we went to an acquire the fire youth conference with our youth group, um, when we were seniors in high school. And I would say both of us were kind of living the faith of our parents up until that point, that conference just wrecked our lives. Like in fact, I would say from that point on our lives have never been the same, that shared experience. We just became best friends. That's another reason why Joel knew all of, not all the many boyfriends now, there were just a few. Um, he knew all the boyfriends. In fact, he was very instrumental in me breaking up with the last boyfriend before him. And it really was just a kind of an accountability best friend, brother, you know, talk that he was just kinda like something's got to change. Speaker 1 00:09:29 And so anyway, all through college, Joel had been encouraging me to date God for a year, not to date any of these guys that just, you know, like want one thing and blah, blah, blah. And I'd always say, yeah, yeah, yeah. Joel like, okay. Yeah, sure. But when I broke up with the last one, I knew that, okay, I'm giving God a year and I'm going to date God. He is going to be truly the lover of my soul. This last relationship had completely depleted me spiritually. I was Christian my whole life, but I was probably as far away from God as I could be at that point and just sad and depressed and, and lost. And that year with God, he just restored. I mean, that phrase restored my soul. I mean, that is exactly what happened in my quiet times where just two hours, three hours, four hours long, just spending time with God and letting you know, not just me praying to him, but hearing from him hearing his voice. Speaker 1 00:10:29 And so meanwhile, um, Joel and I, I graduated from college in that year. Where'd you go to college? No one's ever heard of it. It's a small school in North Carolina to one university, um, to one it's that, which is an India. There's a local river, the Chihuahuan river, which is an Indian, like a native American river anyway, small Baptist school that I ended up at. And so anyway, I graduated from college, started teaching. I was a music teacher and Joel and I again were best friends. And there was kind of like this tension that I was feeling in that he was the man that I would think I would want to marry, but I didn't feel those feelings for him. And it was frustrating. It was crazy because one randomly I had, I went to sleep one night and I had this dream that he came up to me and told me that he loved me. Speaker 1 00:11:26 And when I woke up the next morning, it was like, God had flipped a light switch. And he S and he said, Joel is the one. And it was, it was not just like informational. Like, Joel's the one. It was like, all of a sudden I realized I am in love with Joel Lowery. We'd not dated. We had not, we're just hanging out. Like we always had. And about a week later, I told him about my dream and the rest is history. So, yeah. So that's how that, yeah. Just didn't tell you. That's probably a little bit of Speaker 3 00:11:56 That's. Okay. It's a better, it's more romantic story simultaneously. It just fell for each other, but we're going to Speaker 1 00:12:03 Pretty cool. It really was, it was like a light switch and the rest was history. We were engaged six months later and wow. Married six, six months after that. So, yeah. Speaker 3 00:12:11 And then, uh, just because I know a good video store, you guys then end up, did you go right to Texas? Speaker 1 00:12:19 We were, I taught for, uh, three years and then we moved to Texas. Okay. Speaker 3 00:12:26 And what did you teach? Speaker 1 00:12:27 Music? Oh, elementary music. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:12:30 So you do that, and then you go to Texas and talk about what that move was. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:12:34 We moved to Texas to work for teen mania ministries. It's a youth. It was a, it doesn't exist anymore, but it was a youth ministry that had a very large internship of college aged students. Um, about 600, 6 50 students there that was called the honor academy. And then we also had a big arm, was summer missions, trips. Most summers we would send two or 3000 kids all over the world, teenagers, all over the world on missions. All these kids would come to campus and we train them in a drama or, or some kind of evangelists stick method, and then we'd send them off all around the world. Wow. And then the other piece was the acquire, the fire youth conventions, which that's where Joel and I, you know, where God wrecked us and, and our life's never been the same. So we felt we owed a lot to the ministry. And so I was an event planner for their honor academy and Joel, he oversaw all of the second year interns. So yeah. So it was an incredible experience. Nothing but incredible good forming. I don't know if there's so many good things that I could say about it, but it was incredible just to be a part of that for the time that it was going. Speaker 3 00:13:47 Yeah. And it's in that context, you bump into the vineyard. Speaker 1 00:13:51 Yes. That is exactly what happens. We moved to Texas start working for team mania. And two of our friends are, um, our best friends, uh, at the time were going to a vineyard church there in Tyler, Texas. And they were like, you have to come to our church. And the funny thing is, is that we, we had been in one vineyard church before, um, we loved vineyard music. I mean, had all the CDs, all the winds of worship, we loved vineyard worship, but we had been to one vineyard church that was just like weird, uh, I won't name any names, but it was just Speaker 3 00:14:24 Saying that there's vineyard churches Speaker 1 00:14:26 That are weird. I would never say that Speaker 3 00:14:29 Cause that's wow. That's shock. Speaker 1 00:14:31 It was just a very, even for me growing up in a Bapticostal environment, um, you've seen where we have seen lots of weird and, and I think really that, that again was kind of like, we, we don't want any more weird we're done with weird. Anyway, we come to this church and the moment we walked in, it was like, we found our home. We found our tribe, our pastor we'd kind of like initial conversation, said, this is what we're coming from. We were very burnout on church ministry at that point. Um, we had at the church we grew up in, I was the worship leader. Joel was the youth pastor. We, you know, we did everything. I mean, the pastor who was aging, he would call Joel like on a Saturday night and say, I don't feel good. Can you come preach on Sunday? And he'd have like one night to put something together. Speaker 1 00:15:20 We would open the church and close the church. We cleaned the church. We, we just, we were so overwhelmed and burnt out on, you know, we, we left that church move when we moved to Texas saying like, if this is what ministry is, we want nothing to do with it. So we ended up at this Tyler vineyard, very brief, you know, just like, Hey, this is what we're coming out of. And our pastor looked at us and he said, you know what? Like sit on the back row. Like, don't, don't sign up for anything, sign up for a small group, but don't sign up to lead anything don't sign up to serve, like for a year. We just want you to rest and receive. And even just to hear though, that that line rest and receive was such a paradigm shift for us. Like we had never been offered that. And so I don't even think we made it through a year because the church was just so amazing that we could, yeah, we could not wait to hop in. And so, Speaker 3 00:16:17 So interesting because I mean, again, I know where your story goes, but even in the sort of man we're doing everything and we're burning out. Yeah. You look back and think, how has God prepping you even that, right. I mean, like you're just reacting and responding and doing all this stuff, but you're getting really interesting training opportunities, right? I mean, you're thinking about buildings and groups and preaching on a whim and all of this stuff feels haphazard and chaotic. Right. But it's also opportunity. You're probably are accelerating your ministry tools without, without even doing an, a purpose. Honestly, you're just, yeah. I don't know. I guess we have to do everything right. But it did lead to not a great spot, but then all those tools sort of rekindle in a space that's a little healthier. And so you start helping out a church and doing things. Speaker 3 00:17:19 And then I, I want to ask you some questions about this window, but, but let's go all the way to the end. Well, towards the end and then we'll work backwards. So, so then you guys eventually ended up planting a church. Yup. So how did you decide to do that? Because you know, any number of folks when they listen to things like this are going, how would I know if God's speaking to me, there's so many people that would have some version of the story you told to this point, right? Like the men in my church, I love my church. I help out, I do this. Hey, I may have done a little too much at one point. Yeah. I scale back. And now I'm just kind of found a rhythm where I'm helping with ministry. How in the world then do you decide we're going to plant the church? Speaker 1 00:18:02 Yeah, that was definitely a journey. We were hard and soul at teen mania, but I would say like the whole time we knew there was a very strong passion for the local church, even though we were very involved in a pair of church ministry, but there was some that, that piece never left. Uh, either of us, um, just a strong, passionate love for the local church. And so we didn't know what that would mean for us in the future. We were, you know, in our, in our twenties at the time and we didn't know what necessarily God would ever call us to. I mean, we would kind of daydream and, and imagine, I mean, we would think like maybe we'll join someone staff and, you know, maybe we'll take over it, uh, you know, succeed someone, the church planning like scared us so that we, we, we knew that was an option, but we never really like would, would breach that conversation to like really consider it. Um, and one day, pastor Andy at the Tyler vineyard had told Joel, Hey Joel, I think you're supposed to plant a church. And Joel's Joel's first response was you're smoking crack. And Speaker 3 00:19:14 So wait, so he just sight unseen. You've never had a conversation about it, but he's watching you do ministry. And it just says, what if, what if God asked you to plant church? You're like, nah, Speaker 1 00:19:25 Not, yeah, that's too hard. That was just kind of a, you know, a passing conversation and, um, never really, again, consider it, um, for awhile. We were again, kind of stepping up in leadership as the time as time went on and you know, we are on what we called the pastoral team. I would assume it would kind of be like an elder team. And around that time, uh, VLI became an option and we had some students at the church. So Joel decided, you know, maybe if I do be alive, this will kind of help direct us in what we're supposed to do. And so Joel went through uh VLI and he did the intensive with Steve Nicholson, um, on church planting. And he came home from that and he said, I've just been in a wrestling match with God for the last two days. And he's like, we're supposed to plant a church. So Steve sold him on church planning. The moment that Joel came home and said that to me, everything within me, I just, it, it felt completely right. And yes, and amen, let's go, let's do this. Wow. So then we just started a process of, you know, imagining where, and of course our w we first start just dreaming our, our, our dream locations. We left Virginia saying we probably would never be back to Virginia. So we're like, you know, Miami beach, then we actually considered Colorado. Speaker 3 00:20:49 That's a, that's a good option. Speaker 1 00:20:52 So time passed. Um, we, um, excuse me. We, um, no, we actually did consider Colorado very strongly. We had friends that worked at compassion and we were really weighing that as an option. Um, what changed for us was when I had my second child, Caleb, I almost passed away in childbirth. And I was in ICU for two days. And they had already started right up my death paperwork. Like it was a done deal, like I was going to die. And then I got, I was miraculously healed. All the doctors specialists that had come in and they said, there's no reason why you should be living right now. Wow. So I, we go through this miraculous experience. My parents came in to basically take care of us for a month. And we just came to this realization. We knew we're planting a church and here we have two little, little babies newborn and a two year old. Speaker 1 00:21:48 And we just like the way our parents aided us. In that time, we felt like we can't plant a church without our family nearby. And all of our family was back in Virginia. So, you know, the more we began to pray about it, where, you know, well, while we had these dreams of like, this location would be so amazing at the same time we discerned that we know Virginia, we know, you know, the commuter lifestyle, we know the transiency, we understand millet, you know, that we have a lot of mil military bases. We understand that whole, I mean, we've, we've pastored those people before we've pastored their kids. We know like the strain and the stresses. And so it just, we came to the point where we, we felt discerning. Yeah, we need to go home. And so, yeah, that's how we ended back in Virginia to plant. Speaker 3 00:22:38 And did you move with a team, like did folks that you had known and know, okay, Speaker 1 00:22:43 No. It's that classic, you know, vineyard church plans, like here's a check for $2,000 and you know, like good luck go for it. Yeah. Um, so we, I mean, we had our family, our family was our, was our starting, we had, we started with a small group of eight, which consisted of my two parents. Joel's mom, my two sisters and the family friend that was our original group. And so we, you know, we met for a year to plan. And then we, the next year we did four preview services. We followed the whole CRC model, which worked like to the T we did exactly what he said to do. And we did it. And we had four previous services, uh, once a month. And by the opening lunch Sunday, we had 103 people show up. Wow. So we started with eight. And Speaker 3 00:23:32 So you start with a small group note, I assume you had to work jobs while you're doing that. So you go back to work, do whatever you have to do. You're slowly doing some gathering stuff, getting to know friends of friends and folks. Then you do four preview services. Like, Hey, Speaker 1 00:23:48 This is who we are. This is what we want. We're starting a church. Speaker 3 00:23:52 I want to come. Okay. And then a hundred people a year later, just pile into a school. Speaker 1 00:23:59 Uh, yeah. So yeah, we, we were, uh, our first lunch Sunday was at a local Christian high school. Wow. Speaker 3 00:24:08 And you guys walk out of there going, I cannot believe we couldn't. Speaker 1 00:24:14 Yeah. And each previous service would grow. We went from our eight to 16 to like 20 something to 30 something. We ended up with 50, according to this model, we had these 50 people, we said, all right, you are now our lunch team. So we just divvied out all the roles and, and lunch the next Sunday. And we had a church. Speaker 3 00:24:31 So how, okay. So how in the world did you bump into sir? I mean, how does that become the playbook? You just knew something. Speaker 1 00:24:40 It was a mistake. To be honest, we literally had no idea. We had, you know, our, we had our church planning book that the vineyard gave out at the time, which was definitely helpful. Thank you, Steve Nicholson. But we, I just, you know, I'm just like fine. Whatever books are out there. I mean, I read Ralph Moore, um, hope chapel. We how Speaker 3 00:25:01 To start a church. Yup. And that was called. Speaker 1 00:25:03 Yeah. I can see the cover. Speaker 3 00:25:05 I think that's what it's called. Yeah. Yeah. I'd love that Speaker 1 00:25:08 Book too. Yeah, totally. So that, and then somehow we just landed on, we found the Searcy books and when I, we Speaker 3 00:25:15 Wait, hold on, hold on. So yeah, somehow we found it, but what's interesting is I don't even know how Speaker 1 00:25:20 We found them. So sight Speaker 3 00:25:21 Unseen. I don't know who this guy is. I don't know who wrote these books. They tell you like, do these things in order. Yep. Let's just run the plays. Yeah. Because somebody says, you know, who knows, maybe it's in the Amazon, if you like this book, you'll like this book Speaker 1 00:25:38 Maybe. Yeah. I don't even know that might be how we got those books. Speaker 3 00:25:42 Yeah. If you like Ralph Moore also like Nelson Searcy, Speaker 1 00:25:49 How we found those books. But this is what I'll say is, you know, we spent a year trying to gather this for those of you who are, you know, you're newer to church planning. Like this was the language we used back then is you start a small group and you try to gather people and bring them into that small group. And then the small group grows and you break that up into two. And before you know it, you have 100 people and you can start a church. Yep. Um, we had a small group of eight for an entire year and we did everything we could to get people. Speaker 3 00:26:15 Well, now that's fascinating. So what you're saying is in the time that you're thinking, oh, we'll go from the eight to 50 or whatever, you go from eight to eight. Right? Speaker 1 00:26:27 Exactly. Exactly. And here's the thing is that, and I don't know if this is a regional thing, but you know, the best example is, is, um, you know, we would have these amazing conversations everywhere. Joel had a conversation with our banker, he's opening a banking account and he gives her a word of knowledge and she starts crying right there in the bank. Wow. And, and they ended up talking for quite some time. And then he invited him to come to come to our small group. Dah, all of a sudden there was a wall, like something about inviting a stranger to your house was just weird and Speaker 3 00:27:04 Too much. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:27:06 We could, we, we got no traction Speaker 3 00:27:09 When we started planting, it was like same kind of deal. You know, we have a team of folks. And when you said, Hey, come to our church thing, it was this white rickety house. It was like on a hill. All the dudes lived in, it was the only place we could really gather. And it was always that moment, even as I was doing it, even as I'm saying out loud, Hey, you should check out our you thing. It's on whatever Wednesday night. And then they'd go, oh, really? Where, well, you know, it was this white house right there off like 67. And they'd be like, you could just see it in their eyes. Like something turned like, I mean, cause even people that don't have any church background life with Jesus, they at least have some kind of an imagination. Right? Like a church is like a building and a place with like parking and lights and stuff. It's not some house. Right. You know, so yeah. That is tough. Okay. So you go from eight to eight. Yup. Then you start, Speaker 1 00:28:08 It's very discouraging. So, so I'm reading all these books, you know, and this is what we felt even with our team, because they're going okay. You're, you're teaching us all this stuff about planting a church, but like nothing's happening Speaker 3 00:28:19 Talking about planting the church, the eight of us. Speaker 1 00:28:23 And Speaker 3 00:28:26 Um, it's so great when you just jump anyway, you, you know what, Speaker 1 00:28:31 And it felt, this is, this is great for all of you church planters out there, we felt like that we were Noah building the Ark with no sign of rain. And this is what we were trying to convince her. It's coming guys. Like the people are coming, let's keep planning. Speaker 3 00:28:45 You guys are in the room going, it's coming. And then you walk out, get in your car and go Speaker 1 00:28:52 A hundred percent. Yeah. Yep. So we get to this point where we're like, hunh, this isn't working, like nobody's showing up to this. And so this is where Searcy comes in. And then the church planning book and the name of it is having a hard time with book names right now. But I read the book and I gave it to Joel. And I said, I think this is it. I think this is what we need to do. So he read it and then we literally did. Step-by-step what he said. Speaker 3 00:29:20 Well, it's interesting what you said. So when you get the hundred or the 50, there's a clear plan to break people into assigned roles with how you sort of build those relationships, what you get them to do. That becomes a team. Whereas often I think what we think to ourselves is, well, I've got to get the exact right people, right. Then I get a team. Then I do the next thing you're saying, Nope, we got some people. Yep. We may have Speaker 3 00:29:52 So we got people. You're our team. Here's the things we know we have to get done. We'll work with what we've got. Yep. Wow. That's quite an insight. And it's an interesting, you know, I mean, because part of what I want to pivot toward is how leadership development works and what it means to equip the saints, to train folks and how discipleship works. My hunches to that point. That's not been a model for you. Like it doesn't sound like your own story is I was a part of a church plant and somebody just sort of three minute though, in one sense, it was the, it sounds like the Bapticostal church, you were behaving like church planners, even if you weren't. Yeah. You're doing everything. So tell me a little bit, cause then I'm going to zoom for it from there. If I want to go back for just a second, talk a little bit about how did you get discipled in what you've done in ministry? How were you trained? Like who were the people that took an interest in Christina? It sounds like this one pastor in Tyler, Texas has some things. Yep. Probably some folks in teen mania, maybe even the church way back when, you know, when you're doing wheelbarrow races and stuff, who were the folks that noticed you help train you and how did they do that? Yeah. Speaker 1 00:31:11 Well, very interesting. I would say, you know, Joel and I both have, uh, we we've would consider him a spiritual father. He was an associate pastor at the church. We grew up in for a couple of years and that relationship never died. We're still good friends with them. And so I would say to that though, for me as a girl, I honestly can't say that anyone ever spotted me out and said, you've got something on you other than, I mean, I was a worship leader. So, you know, people would say, you know, there's an anointing on you. And they would kind of comment on that. But I wouldn't say that anyone until we got to the Tyler vineyard, where, where leadership was seen in me and, and, and I was kind of pushed forward into that. Interesting. And you know, like growing up, my observation was my pastor and his wife were totally co-pastors in every sense of the word, but she wasn't called a pastor. They did not believe women should be ordained or are in a leadership over men. Right? Like when I think back to what she did in every sense of the word, she was a pastor, you know, even into, I would say, even into my young twenties, I just had this mentality. If I, if I want to be in ministry or leadership, I need to marry a pastor. I need to marry someone that's going to be in ministry. And that did not. That probably didn't shift me and tell us at a Tyler vineyard. Wow. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:32:41 You've, you're floating around ministry. There's theological convictions against women being pastors, but you're watching women be pastors, even if we don't call them pastors. Right. But you see, you have some models, there's like some frameworks then at, in the vineyard. They're like you, you're a leader. You're a pastor. Yeah. So there's some hurdles to jump there. Then you guys build your church plant team from eight to eight, then launch with the 50, put those people in play. Okay. So what's so interesting about your story then is then because I do know again, more of your story, the church really grows. I mean, so you have this thing that launches, you're both, all, you're both kind of shocked. I can't believe this is happening. And then it just starts to scale up. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:33:28 Very slow and steady. We don't have, we do not have that story that you hear sometimes where they're like, I don't know what happened. Yeah. 200 people showed up out of nowhere. Like that never happened to us. It was a very slow, incremental growth. Um, we honestly, and I think we, well, when we moved into, we were portable for nine and a half years. And when we moved into our building, that was a time that we did have a half year, nine and a half years of maybe twenty-five this year and you know, 50, the next year and 30, the next year. And it was, it was, it was just a very slow, it took us, let's see, it took us nine years. We grew to about 400 people, but it was, yeah, it was a, it was a very slow, I mean we, yeah, again, we just, we never felt like, wow, look at all these P it just was, you almost didn't notice the growth unless you're looking at numbers. So Speaker 3 00:34:26 100 to 400 is just, and I assume at this time you're still sort of running certain kinds of plays, like what we do the newcomer class. And then we keep building small groups. So we multiply small groups. So we have some kind of vineyard process class, right? Like Speaker 1 00:34:46 You're doing all that for Speaker 3 00:34:47 Nine years, just everyday day in, day out, work in the system, doing the process. People slowly are inviting their friends. That's how they come. Yep. You bring them to the newcomer, invite them to the one-on-one to when it comes to the small group, serve in a ministry, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That's all just going on for nine and a half years. Wow. Yep. Faithfully. Yes. Yeah. That's amazing. Yeah. So what would you want to say? I mean, there's lots of people that I think get discouraged. You know, their church is a hundred people. It stays under people. It's honor people. And then it's 120 people. Speaker 1 00:35:24 Yeah. Speaker 3 00:35:25 We're already, we've already talked to the people who build their team that goes from eight to eight, right. Then a hundred to 120 or 125 to a hundred and thirty five, a hundred and forty people or whatever. Why, how did you guys just keep going? How'd you just keep doing it. And I imagine in that time, how many of the original hundred stayed all the way through, till the, the building by nine and a half years later. Speaker 1 00:35:52 Very few actually are our family We're strong. Um, yeah. I mean, my parents actually, they don't live very close, so they ended up, it was just they're older. And so, yeah, they, they ended up at one point heading, Speaker 3 00:36:06 But even if that original launch, those people are sort of cycling off, you're cycling in. Yes. It's steady. It's slow. How did you just keep I'm sure. There's discouraging windows in there, like for sure so-and-so's not coming and what happened? How do you guys just keep running the place? Speaker 1 00:36:26 Oh goodness. We were at our second regional conference with a vineyard and we just had a, kind of a blow up with a married couple who she led the kids' area and he led the youth. I won't go through the whole story, but it was just, it was a betrayal and they ended up leaving. And so we're at our regional conference at the time Phil Strout was our regional leader and we're just kind of telling him what happened. And he just looked us in the eyes and he said, you guys need to learn to have a soft heart and tough skin, soft heart and tough skin. That statement never left us. And the other thing that he had said is that you need to learn to hold people with open hands. And so what that means, and if you could see me right now, I've got my hands open with my fingers spread. Speaker 1 00:37:18 And when you hold people with open hands, they will slip out a lot easier. You're not holding on tight to them where it's going to hurt both you and them when it's time for them to move on. And so that image as well, has always been very foundational for us because it is true that people that you love deeply will leave you. They will, they will they'll leave. And, you know, interestingly enough, in the early years of the church, I was working as an event planner. So I was a corporate event planner. I was, um, at a, at a doctor's continuing education, Speaker 3 00:37:57 Just Speaker 1 00:37:57 Event thing. Yeah. So they, it's where they get their re up on their certification stuff. This was the orthopedic one. And so, you know, most of it is like way over my head, but I still remember this one thing that the orthopedic instructor had said, he said, the skeleton that you have right now will be a completely new skeleton in 10 years, that there is this regeneration that happens. The dead cells fall off and new cells are always regenerating. So you will have a completely different skeleton in 10 years. And something like, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. That's what church really is. Like, there are dead cells that fall off and there are new cells, always regenerating. And so kind of those metaphors have kept us, you know, hanging on when that we've talked through some really painful, you know, there was one, um, you know, I know a lot of church planters are young and have young families. And there was a year actually, I will say a week in one week we had three of our core families leave. Two of them were moving away and one decided to leave the church, all of their kids, these are three families where all of their kids were best friends with our kids. Wow. So in one week our kids lost all of their friends, Speaker 3 00:39:14 Kids, ministry, friends, Speaker 1 00:39:15 Yes. All of their friends. And that was kind of a, like, what are we doing? Do I really want to put my kids through this? Like, like, like seriously. And so, yeah, there's just, there are very painful. You, you just, you won't get around that it's going to happen. So there's a resilience that's needed and a determination and an eye on the prize. Speaker 2 00:39:53 Each quarter on the weird venue podcast, we will focus in on a theme for all of our interviews for the first quarter of 2022. The theme is equipping the saints. And every month we're going to introduce a new recommended book or resource to dig in deeper this month. We're recommending that everyone reads strong, weak by Andy crouch later, the spend full interview, Andy, to hear a deeper dive on this book and much more struggling week is available through vineyard resources and wherever books are sold. Speaker 3 00:40:29 It's interesting to hear the timing of Phil's droughts thing. You know, our story is not that different. You know, we didn't grow very quickly steady, incremental growth, but one of the, the key moment for us was also in a regional experience. Rick Olmstead was our regional guy. And I remember sitting with them and just going, man, this is just, it's just painful because you know, we're not an NFL team, you know, w you know, where you trade players, their contracts run out or something. We're not a business where I'm running a restaurant where a server gets a better job or something. I thought I was building family. I thought we were building a way of life together and obedience to Jesus. And there were people we seen baptized and dedicated their kids. And sometimes just for the most mundane, like, I don't know, we just live like four blocks away now. Speaker 3 00:41:26 Or there's some new church that popped in nearby. I mean, it was, it was often just odd stuff where it, what was clear to me was whatever I thought we were doing. They didn't necessarily think we were doing, it felt a little more like Chili's changed the fajitas. So I'm not coming back to Chili's or whatever. Yeah. And it was, it was gutting. It was painful. And I remember sitting with Rick homestead and kind of saying this, and he gave me really good advice, which is similar to yours, which is, he said, Jay, the whole key, if he goes for longevity of ministry, not spurts and ministry is all kinds of little tools and things you learn. But for longevity of ministry, every time you say goodbye, you have to choose to say hello. Speaker 3 00:42:14 And he said, the pastors, I watch, they get stuck. Like they kind of just get stuck in themselves when the life of their church they've said goodbye. So many times that it's hard to keep saying hello. Yeah. Because every time Jay, there's another group of people nearby, there's a friend of a friend that you have to be able to turn and say hello again. So true. And make disciples and pray for them and talk through the Bible and care for their family. And if you can keep saying hello is main times you say goodbye in your own heart. No, that I can only pass through the people. God is interesting. Yeah. You can do this a really long time. Wow. So good. If you can't it's death by paper cuts. Speaker 1 00:43:03 Yep. And at present it's Speaker 3 00:43:05 Bad. It's bad betrayal. Sometimes there's really bad ones, but it's often just, it just kind of people do their own thing and they go away. They do something else. Sometimes they just move. Right. They get jobs or say, I'm going to go somewhere else. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:43:17 Look at what we're in right now. This is like what you just described, but in a COVID. Speaker 3 00:43:22 Yeah, man. Speaker 1 00:43:23 I mean, we are out of church for three months, at least in our area and come back and it's like, where did everybody go? Like, I thought we were their pastors. Are we, am I, are they, do we still pastor them? Like totally. There was no like notes. There was no like dear John letters, there was nothing. And they're just gone. And, and it is it's uh, and even right now you look around and wow, we've said hello to a lot of new people. Speaker 3 00:43:47 Yes. And it's hard. Yeah. Because you inside of your mind and your heart still grieve. I know so many pastors are more aware of who's not there and who's there. Yep. Yep. And so that's a mental hardship. Like, well, there are these people, right. Let's do this part. Okay. So then you guys go into the building and just to speed for it. Cause I want to talk a little bit about how your role is informed by your story. Because many of the things you're saying help you be an incredible person thinking about church health. So you guys move into a building church starts to grow. Yeah. Because you have a big building. That's cool. And people are inside Speaker 1 00:44:31 City Speaker 3 00:44:33 Centers and now you're exposed to exposure a different way. Church starts to grow, but it applies the growth. The thing you've always wanted applies a whole new set of pressure on you and Joel, and on some of your key team. Yes. And it starts to create some fissures or some mess that appears talk to you about briefly. I mean, we can talk about that for hours, but just, just give me like the 10,000 foot view. Speaker 1 00:44:58 Yeah. So we, I don't think you can prepare for, you know, 200 people showing up in a quick amount of time, which is what happened to us. And, uh, you know, like every pastor in America, like, of course you don't have enough volunteers to handle that. Um, packing out kids services. There were some that we were like, we might have to close the kids area because we just, um, so we had decided to open a third service, which means that a lot of our current volunteers who just went through a big traumatic, like church move. I mean, that's a big deal when you go from having something for nine years and then you're in a different environment. And there's just a lot of it's, it's a very odd, even though it's a better situation on paper, like there's a lot of hard things that are going on in that time. Speaker 3 00:45:47 Sure. Every single change, even good change produces loss. Right. And I mean, I think we always under calculate what the cost is. People. Yeah. Great change. Really great change still has a lot of loss. Yes. And it's a, it's sort of under the surface, you know, cause even in your own mind, you have cognitive dissonance, like, but look at this and this is cool thing. Right. And then you feel sadness and you're like, what's wrong with me? And you try to push through. Yeah. But that sense of loss does stay with you and it will show up one way or another. Speaker 1 00:46:23 Yes. Speaker 3 00:46:24 Cause growth also means for you as a pastor, many people who were really connected to you are now feeling a little further away from you. It's cost too. Okay. So you're growing Speaker 1 00:46:36 Quick growth. We add a service. People are getting toasty, just, Hey, I've learned every week in the kids' area for the past month. Right. People are getting toasty. But you know, I feel like we had a really strong vision. And what this meant to be in the city center are our former location was in the middle of nowhere. And now that we're here, like, look, we felt that we had a very strong vision and I think people were attracted to that. And we were just really struggling to get what we learned. And we wouldn't have known this on the front end, is that all of those new people, it usually takes almost a year for them to plug in, to start serving, to start typing. So they're literally dead weight. Those 200 people that just showed up out of nowhere are dead weight. And so, you know, the core team they're getting toasty, but the unhealth of this was that they weren't telling Joel and I right. And so there began to be some undercurrents that we were completely unaware of unless you've been through this. You know, when I, even, when I hear myself telling this story, it's like, well, how could you not be aware? Like, are you not talking to them? Or you're not meeting with them? Are they not see me? And, and I'm just saying like, no, like they, we, we really were unaware of the degree of their dis well, I don't know what word to use, but just frustrated, frustrated. Speaker 3 00:48:00 Yeah. Cause they're working hard. Yeah. They've loved the church. And in some point, whether they want to admit it or not, they love the church because they love you guys. I imagine as the 200 people are trying to figure out, is this our church you're dedicating a lot of time and energy to new folks. Yep. Yep. So folks who have been around a while are going, man, they're not accessible as they used to be. We don't feel as connected because we're all working so hard. And that starts to just create some irritation, irritation, Speaker 1 00:48:28 Irritation, which can lead to some cynicism of are the Lowery's building. Are they building their fame on our backs? You know, are they building a big church at our expense? Yep. And so yeah, some of that cynicism really, it was an undercurrent that we were, we were the emperor with no clothes Speaker 3 00:48:47 And you'd done. I mean, needless to say, we just said it quickly, but you've done a ton of work to get in the building. People forget how much work it is to raise money and do plans and get building codes to just get in. And I've been in your building, it's a beautiful building. So it's, it's a lot of work. So you're already, you guys are also a little tired. People have worked with you. Speaker 1 00:49:10 W tired is an understatement. Right. You were exhausted. Speaker 3 00:49:14 Yeah. And so the cool, great new thing requires more work. So you're exhausted on top of exhausted, we're painting a really beautiful picture of church growth. Aren't we? Okay. Because it's important to talk this, honestly, though, because everybody who's in a church that really loves Jesus, loves their church, loves the city. Like, man, what if we could grow? Yeah. Very few people count the cost of the work required and how the work changes. Yes. And because then the work changes and then all the relationships change. And you've got to tell a story somehow. Yup. What's the story I tell about what's happening right now. And you're saying right now, looking back, you were more tired than you thought you were, the groups are becoming cynical and you weren't even aware to address. Speaker 1 00:50:05 Yeah. I should've mentioned this too, is that I think with best intentions, our staff felt like they needed to be a buffer, a buffer between what was really the rumblings. And then, so even in that, there was a sense of betrayal as some of the started to unfold. Like you've known about all of this and you haven't told us, like Speaker 3 00:50:28 When they thought they were being held Speaker 1 00:50:29 And they thought they were, yeah. They thought they were protecting us. Right. Speaker 3 00:50:33 It all breaks. Yeah. And how does it break? I mean, you don't have to go again 10,000 feet. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:50:39 Um, two of our best friends in the church, both in very significant leadership roles in the church had been with us spore eight years at that time we'd vacation together. And it was that kind of relationship. Um, we had kids around the same time we been through a lot we've even relationally had some really difficult experiences, but to Joel and I, we felt like this was kind of like the height of our friendship with them, right. Again, just to make everything really short. It turns out that they were kind of the instigators of this unrest in this cynicism. And, um, and coming to find out that this was happening at the same time, as they're hanging out with us and doing dinners. And at the same time, they're like having these fun nights with us and hanging out. They're also meeting, having dinners with other people and sowing seeds of distrust towards, towards Dolan. I, it all came out in one week. And the way that I found out is just the way Joel and I found out is just one after one, we were approached by different leaders in the church. And for some reason, they all were saying the exact same things, word for word. So just using, you know, tracing it, tracing all the things they were saying. We, we discovered that it was coming from, from this couple. Speaker 3 00:51:59 And then you try to, you try to engage in the scene, but it just spins. Speaker 1 00:52:03 Yeah. Spun out of control again, this is so I, the more on telling my story, the more I see how much the vineyard has really been. So incredibly instrumental in not just launching us, but preserving us. We called up our regional leaders, Andy and Sharon Mead. They were alarmed immediately. They took off on their day off Monday was their day off. And they came up, uh, drove three hours to get to us. And they just said, we, this is your ship is on fire. And if we don't do something right now, your ship is gonna sink. I know that you're like, you have a full church on Sunday, but there are enough core team members that are involved in this, that if we don't address this right now, it's going to sink those two. Honestly, they saved us. We were so heartbroken and deer in the headlights, not knowing what to do because of course we're trying, we want to fix everything, but they stepped in and kind of took over for us and handled it in the best way that needed to happen. It was a very, very, very painful experience, probably one of the worst things that Joel and I've ever been through, but they were able to get the cancer out and, and we were able, we survived. Speaker 3 00:53:21 So a whole chunk of folks, just sort of together, these friends Speaker 1 00:53:26 At first, it was just the one couple, but over the next couple of months, one by one. Yeah. There's a leak. Speaker 3 00:53:34 And just cause I know this story, I get, I get to cheat and push it forward. That process puts Joel in a new spot. All of a sudden he's going to, I want to do this. So we've been through all these difficult things. We finally get to the moment we're trying to do the thing we thought we could do. It's actually working. I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted on top of exhausted on top of exhausted. Now these people we've been given our life to are gone. People are leaking away. I don't know that I want to do this and you've been leading together. Yeah. And he, he decides I gotta get out of this. Speaker 1 00:54:17 Uh, yeah, he didn't come right out and say, I've got to get out of this. It was kind of like a, I need to discern if I'm supposed to be a pastor for the rest of my life. And Speaker 3 00:54:27 Which sounds fair. Yeah. In light of what he's been through. Speaker 1 00:54:29 Right. Right. Yeah. And again, in the context you have a capital campaign leading into a building project, which statistically kills you. Pastors quit all the time after those two things all the time. So, and he was already like beyond done at that point. So for this to happen, it was like, I don't know if I want to like do this. Right. So yeah. He decided to take a three months sabbatical and discern during that time. And like looking back that three months, his decision happened pretty quickly. I mean, he'd be like, all right, I'm at 50% of this is, this is it. And then two weeks later, I'm at 85%, right? This is done. So at that point, let's see, took the sabbatical. It was in 2019, January to March. And the whole time I'm having a massive crisis of belief myself. How could you not? Speaker 3 00:55:25 I mean, we Speaker 1 00:55:25 Both been through that betrayal together. Right. We have, you know, way too many people and not enough volunteers. And we're still trying to figure out how to work all of that in my heart. I just knew that we had to get through this because this is the dream we've always had. Like, this is, this is everything in our life has led up to this moment. Why? Like we can't just quit. And in my mind at the time, I thought if Joel quits. I have to quit too. They would never take me as their pastor or, you know, all the, the, the feelings of like, I have all these excuses. I'm a woman, no one wants to be led by a woman. And again, these are just the thoughts that are going through my mind. Speaker 3 00:56:05 However tired he is. You're tired. So the thought that, okay, now we're going to cut the work team in half and do more. Yeah. Like what person agrees to that, right. Like Speaker 1 00:56:18 Married. So we balance each other out. There are things that he's amazing at that I'm horrible at vice versa. So to think I'm, I'm a half of the deal and we started this church together and we were supposed to, you know, die in this church kind of thing. And, but I'm just watching him sink fast and, and I'm freaking out. And to be really honest, um, there was, that was a really rough patch for us as a couple. And yeah, so Speaker 3 00:56:44 You don't just skip through the fields of those conversations. Those are painful, Speaker 1 00:56:48 Very, very painful and could, you know, I felt abandoned. And so there's much healing that comes past this point, but at this point it was very hard. And so I, yes, I kind of had it out with God. One night I was mad at Joel and I was mad at God. Like, like when I say mad, I was just beside myself, angry, so mad that this was happening. And it's kind of funny if you've been walking with the Lord for some time, it was one of these kinds of conversations where I'm ranting for probably an hour. And then finally, you know, I stopped to take a breath and I literally, I, I hear the Lord say, are you done? And, and I kind of sobbing at the same time and I'd say, yes, I'm done. I guess I am. Yeah, I guess so for now, wow. His, his response to my rant was a question. And he said, Christina, did I call you to plant this church? And I said, yes. And he said, would you pastor this church with, or without Joel? And I knew in that moment, he was looking for an obedient answer. I knew this wasn't like a rhetorical question. He was looking for obedience. And so I said, I told him, I said, God, if this is what you want, I will pastor this church without Joel. Speaker 3 00:58:08 It was, and to fast forward, cause we talk again, any piece of this, we talked for hours. Yeah. Joel does decide I'm stepping away. Yep. You guys try to work out the best you can for you. And then you step in and here's, what's so interesting. Cause I know the story, many of the things you are afraid of happen, the way that you were afraid of them, like, well, you're a woman. I don't know what I think about that. Even though you had been a pastor now that you were the lead person, a whole bunch of peoples go, sorry, can't be here. So, so there's more leaking. However, a whole little chunkier team rally around you. And in this window you hold the church steady. Yep. It begins to sort of grow back. Speaker 1 00:58:58 This is the interesting piece. We lost number. We lost attendance numbers, but our discipleship numbers went up. So we had, we had, we had about 200 less people. Speaker 3 00:59:11 Um, the crowd from the Speaker 1 00:59:13 Crowd kind of dissipated. Right. And th that year we had more salvation in the history of our church. We had more baptisms that year in the history of our church. More people involved in small groups and all of this. So yeah. I mean, it, it is. It's just to think that we lost people, but yet Speaker 3 00:59:34 Gained overall gains for sure. Yeah. Well, and it's funny cause you know, when I came out and met with you guys, we've talked through this, I'm hearing a theme and how you've done ministry where, okay, so we bumped into Nelson Searcy stuff, but we've never met. We run the malformed playbook. Even in that window, you just fall back into how do we do the right things in order really intentionally keep turning the wheel, keeping faithful, just like you did when you grew from a hundred people to going into a building. What's so amazing about your leadership and what even God did in that window is he, he honored your faithfulness. So Joel backs up, gets his head straight. And of course to not leave people too much suspense, he does come back. Yes, you guys repair all kinds of components now pastoring the church. But even if it hadn't worked out that way, thank God it did. But in the in-between time, part of what you did was just lean back into the faithfulness of God and faithful ways of pastoring. Yep. So it, wasn't a moment for some kind of big pivot, right? Hey, let's, let's redo the vision of the church or new logo or, Speaker 3 01:00:57 You know, we're gonna start again. Right. But Nope. Okay. We're just going to do the stuff we know how to do in order steadily and God honor, now you have loss, but it's part of your story. Listening to you is man, even in loss, you've just been faithful over and over and over. And God continues to honor that, which makes you the perfect person to lead at this moment in the vineyard with church health, because so much of what pastors need to do coming out of COVID in a place where they feel like their church has been stuck for a while is not what's tempting to do is some new, magical trick. We're going to rebrand. We're going to get a different logo. We're going to, whatever we're going to build a new building, you know, whatever we're going to do. And maybe God would ask you to do some of those things. Speaker 3 01:01:49 But by and large, that's not what happens. That's not what works. It's steady yourself. Yup. Do the simple things again. How do we preach the gospel? We call people in the life with Jesus. We make disciples, we train leaders and we just run the plays. Even if a bunch of folks aren't there, we're walking away. Yup. So say, say more about that because you know, as we move into this moment in the vineyard, you have a resume that proves if you are faithful and you get help, that's the thing you weren't trying to be creative. You didn't, you didn't get out a piece of paper and go, okay, what is discipleship? Okay. And I, and I noticed some restorative, so some of the arc folks have been helpful to use. Um, you know, you relied on regional leaders to be helpful to you. So there's not like this sort of hero complex there's people that know what to do. Yeah. I'm going to run some plays, as people are saying goodbye, we're going to keep saying hello. When you think about the vineyard as a whole mean, this would be a good way to sort of wrap up what are, what are the sort of plays that you think, man, we've got to get pastors to be thinking about from my own experience from one I'm watching churches go through through some of your education. You're you're you're Speaker 1 01:03:11 Yes. I'm almost done. We're almost Speaker 3 01:03:13 Done. So Speaker 1 01:03:14 What was your degree in ministerial leadership? Ministerial Speaker 3 01:03:17 Leadership. Okay. So down the line of what we're talking about, what are some of the things you you're just like, you know, if pastors could just think about two or three things regardless of size of their church, about themselves or about things that are in their church, what kinds of things would you just say? Here's how you just turn the wheel. Here's how you do the simple things. Speaker 1 01:03:38 Yeah. I mean, one thing that we've in our local expression had, we really had to beat this drum for us, like as the pastors, because again, we literally are looking at almost a new congregation than pre pandemic. Speaker 3 01:03:52 That's pretty much everybody. Yeah. Right? Speaker 1 01:03:53 Yes. We've got a good core of that. Stuck it out. Um, but we, we are looking at a new congregation. So this is like, uh, uh, it is almost like a church plant. In fact, we're even having to rebuild your dies, this new crop, you know, like to bring in some of those, those things. But for us, it has been, we need to pastor, well, the people that are right in front of us and there is the temptation to constantly think about who's not here anymore or who hasn't been here in a month or who, you know, you know, ma if I just do this, then we can get them back. This is probably the number one thing is to do it. Well, pastor, well, the people that you have right in front of you, we are coming back to this very relational, knowing people, knowing their stories, knowing their names, knowing you know, that this is, they're not just a part of the crowd. And one thing that's changed for us after COVID is that we are not greenroom pastors and we're not sitting in some room in the back of the building. We're in the lobby. If we're not preaching, we're in the lobby. And we are meeting every person that we pass and we're getting to know them and remembering their names. And so I think I don't have like a super fancy, super fancy answer. Speaker 3 01:05:08 Elite groups. You lead people to train leaders, you reproduce leaders, uh, rich Nathan, pastor Columbus vineyard. Of course he's a guy that, yeah, I was always amazed. You know, no matter how big the church was, he was always leading some kind of small group, like, like rich, you know, if he didn't lead a small group, nobody would make him. I remember even when I was on staff there, he was leading a youth small group. Cause he was like, you know, I think I could just do this. I think that would be helpful. And I could help build into some leaders and it feels like our youth could use some help and he would always lead like groups of groups, like here's potential leaders. I mean with them on a Saturday morning and we'll talk through things. So what's interesting about him and I've seen it. Speaker 3 01:05:53 I see it in you. I see it in every leader that goes through hard times and or is in a steadily growing church, they themselves keep running the simple place of discipleship. Yeah. Then they're asking their key leaders to run the simple processes of deception, a small group, a class meals, lots of meals, dinners in their homes. Yeah. Dinners in your home. Um, you know, one of the things in the Bible that, that the elders have to be hospitable. Yeah. It's such a strange thing in, in the new Testament because things happen around a meal where you create connection, you create impact that in this moment, it might be an opportunity for the church to remember who we've always been intended to be leaders that disciple one another are connected. It could be, I've heard more than one kind of church analysts say we might be seeing the entail of the celebrity pastor phenomenon in our culture because COVID broke, broken. Speaker 3 01:07:00 Some of that. I don't know. I think the is probably a little bit longer because we still like flashy stuff, but yeah, but that's sort of the emulating for that, that local pastors are like, man, what if I could just be like that person that, that illusion has been broken. Right. And many pastors like you're describing are going. I remember why I got into this in the first place. It was to like help people meet Jesus to make disciples. And if our room is 30 people, 300 people, 3000 people, 30,000 people. Yep. I want to do that. And I want to do that in a way that we keep reproducing leaders. And I've seen that in you. And I know that that's the way forward for the vineyard and I know you can help lead us in that. Yeah. What was great to talk to you? Speaker 3 01:07:53 This is really, really helpful, really encouraging and you know, there's any number of things we'll get to do on the way down the road, helping people think through church health. And I know we have coaching relationships wanting to do the regions. We'll talk about all that down the line, but I'm just excited to have you on team and your story offers opportunity to every kind of pastor and leader. And so I'm just, so you've taken this assignment. Just know, I just can't imagine what's going to happen in the next five to 10 years as we just help pastors and leaders. Remember why they got into this in the first place. So yeah. Thanks for saying yes. Speaker 1 01:08:32 Thank you for the invitation and love the vineyard. As you can tell with my story Speaker 3 01:08:37 And it didn't show up over and over. I mean your ability to say, I'm just going to keep asking for help. And hopefully everybody listening goes, you know, maybe I'm not just supposed to do this alone. It's supposed to be in a family I'm supposed to get, Speaker 2 01:08:56 Do we have in your podcast is a production from the team at tenured USA. If you've been enjoying the podcast, here's a few ways you can help us leave us a review on the podcast platform of your choice. This helps more people find us connect with us online for additional resources. Our website is the usa.org and we're on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at, at the new USA. Thanks for listening. See you next week.

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