How old were you when you really came to know God? How? Who introduced you to Him?
I was raised in the Lutheran Church. My dad was a pastor, so my knowledge of God developed with my knowledge of everything else in the world. Although things like VBS and camp opened my eyes to God in new way I think my faith was formed at home. As a family we always prayed before bedtime. I would gather my all my stuffed animals in my bed and I would pray this prayer with my mom, “Dear God. Thank you for your love for us and for all our basic needs. I pray for mommy daddy and Rachel. And bless the whole world… except for strangers.” Then we would sing “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”. These early memories are where I remember coming to know God.
When did you develop a real relationship with God? What was the impetus? What did that relationship look like then and what does it look like today?
I don’t know. My relationship with God has been a lifelong thing… which sometimes I take for granted. Asking when I developed a relationship with God is like asking when I developed a relationship with my mom, dad, or sister. I never explicitly chose to be with them, although now that I am an adult I have to try harder to stay connected. I’d say that same is true of my relationship with God. As a child my relationship with God was natural and intimate. Now I need to work a bit more at reminding myself to “check in” and give God a call. I need to work at reminding myself that I am still that same child with that deep, simple, profound faith.
Who in your life has helped you find God and grow in your faith? How did they do so?
It would almost be easier to list who hasn’t helped me “find God” and “grow in my faith.” I still remember my childhood pastor’s stories. He told a story for every sermon. I still remember doing devotions and rituals with my family after supper. I remember meeting with Herb Brokering (poet and hymn writer) who opened my eyes to the Holy Spirit’s creativity in my ministry. I remember my peers, campers and mentors at Bible camp who helped me develop my passion for youth ministry. Then there are the countless authors, theologians, pastors, Sunday school teachers, friends, colleagues.
Was there a turning point in your life where you found God and could say that you truly believed?
How do you remain strong in your faith?
I don’t always have a strong faith, but when I do it is thanks to a particular community of faith. My faith is normally strongest when I have people to hold me accountable. This is part of why I became a pastor. Yes, to share the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us… but also to grow in my own faith in a congregation full of spirit and testimony.
As Christians, we are often asked how we can believe in someone or something we’ve not met and cannot see. Why do you believe? What evidence of God do you see in this world?
I like how all these questions ask so much about my faith. I think there is an Ann Lamott quote that goes like this, “the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.” I think that is true of my own life. I think I have grown the most in my faith when I am least certain. Because when I am least certain, that is when I need to rely on the community of believers around me. They support me, and I can sense the Holy Spirit moving through them.
Where do you pray your faith journey will lead you next?
I want to see how God is moving in the lives of other people who are growing in their faith. I think this is why I ask people to text me things at the end of my sermons. I want people to be comfortable sharing their stories with me. I think this is the first step in growing together spiritually.
Anything else that you would like others to know?
Thanks for your support as I have started my call. My wife and I have been overwhelmed by how welcoming and hospitable you all have been.