I grew up in Buena Vista, Co. After graduating from Buena Vista High School I went to college in Fort Collins at Colorado State University and got my bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences (of all things), intent that God wanted me to teach. But that wasn't His plan. Instead I went on to work in retail management for fifteen years for a few different retailers, Old Navy (Gap Inc.), Target and Sports Authority.
While at CSU I met the love of my life, Beth, who became my wife on June 6th, 1998. Since we married, we have had three beautiful and amazing girls: Katie, Ashtin and Emily. After moving around for work to various parts of Colorado and even a couple years in Scottsbluff, NE we were finally able to settle down back in my home town, Buena Vista! We are excited to be back in the Rocky Mountains where we have been able to raise our children in a great school system and a safe town filled with friends and family.
My faith in Christ got a late start. Growing up I always knew that there was a God, but really that was the extent of my knowledge. If anything, I believed that God was someone to be frightened of because the littlest mistake would send me directly to Hell; He certainly wasn't a loving God! As I got older, both my faith and knowledge in and of God stayed about the same. I would on occasion go to church with a friend, usually during some special event and I even went to a Young Life event one summer. Unfortunately I never learned anything about God and so my understanding of who He really is never changed.
It wasn't until much later in my life, when I got married, that I would start to attend church on a regular basis. Not because I wanted to, but because my wife insisted that I go with her. After attending church with Beth for a few months a small interest started growing inside me. I wanted to learn more about the history of the church, the Bible and who God really is, but I had no interest in putting any faith in Him.
It wasn't until I met a pastor, Pastor Steve Longley, that I felt comfortable enough with to have a courageous conversation with. The conversation was actually me confronting him with all of the arguments I had about God. We ate breakfast together and he talked with me for quite some time. Of course he wasn't able to answer every question to my satisfaction, but he showed such a strong, deep-seated faith in Christ that I couldn't deny that there had to be something to it. One Sunday, Pastor Steve called everyone who wanted prayer up to the front of the church, and even though I hated, and still do hate calling attention to myself, I went up, got down on my knees and prayed intently for the first time. (I'm not saying that I had never prayed before, but this was the first time I prayed with such passion and with so much determination.) I acknowledge that Jesus is God and that He came to earth as a man in order to live the sinless life that I couldn't; that He died in my place, so that I would not have to pay the penalty I knew I truly deserved. I confessed my sins and admitted that I was finally ready to truly trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and I asked Jesus to come into my heart, to reside there, and to begin living through me from that point on and for the rest of my life.
It was not easy! But I was immediately rewarded, because through my tears of joy I saw Jesus standing right there in front of me on the stage with His arms open wide encouraging me to come to and embrace Him. I don't usually tell people the last part of my story, because I know how hateful people can be. I know that when someone claims to have witnessed something unexplainable they immediately respond in one of two ways. Either they think you are crazy and instantaneously they discount everything they have ever heard you say, or sometimes, though rare, they respond with a similar story of their own. Recently I have decided to take the chance in hopes of hearing other peoples story of faith!
I know that's a lot to ingest, and really all I want you to know is that we all have different stories and are in different stages in our faith journey. Some of us have been faithful followers of Christ for many years or even most of our lives and others of us have either just started following Christ, or maybe haven't yet made the decision to do so! I am here to tell you that faith is something that you must build yourself, you can't build your faith in Christ on things other people have done or said. And, it's okay if you are not ready quite ready yet to fully trust in Jesus; especially if you don't know enough about Him yet. It took me years! The most important thing that you need to do is find a church, hopefully The Gathering but we are not a match for everyone. It must be a place where you feel comfortable and where you can join with others to begin your journey. And that's the last thing I want to say about having faith in Jesus Christ, it is a journey, and not something that happens instantaneously!
Vision for The Gathering
My vision, as pastor, for The Gathering, is that we always strive for what Jesus' original intention was for the "church". The reason I put church in parenthesis is because Jesus never used the word church, nor will you find the word church anywhere in the Bible. Instead of the word church, Jesus used the word "ekklesia", which means a gathering of like minded people who have come together as one for a single purpose. Hence our name, "The Gathering". We are a gathering of hurt and broken people who have come together for the sole purpose of worshiping and loving Jesus Christ.
I want The Gathering Church to be a church that everybody (especially those who have never been to church or who have not been back in church for many years) loves to attend! Many times you will find churches that unknowingly make it difficult for unchurched people to attend or start re-attending church. My goal for The Gathering is that we stay completely focused on making sure our church never does this. In fact, I have the following verse posted in my office: "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." ~ James, Brother of Jesus ~ Acts 15:19
Finally, I want for everyone to: Know God, Live in Freedom, Discover Their Purpose and Make a Difference. And I believe this can be done by Engaging each other, Empowering people to grow their faith and Equipping people to go out into the world and tell others about Jesus! We believe that when we do these three things: Engage, Empower, Equip, we can Change the Spiritual Atmosphere of our little town, the valley, the state and eventually the world!