My Story

 

For the past twenty years, I’ve been serving in churches—in youth ministry, as an Associate Pastor, and most recently as Senior Pastor. But church ministry was never on my radar when I was young.

Hollywood Ambitions

Ever since I was a kid, my dream had been to make it big in Hollywood. After college, in 1994, I got an internship working on the Clio Awards (an awards show for the best commercials) and a couple of music videos (including a Muppets music video!). Then I got more gigs on other TV shows. I thought my dream was coming true.

But I learned something during that first year or two working in Hollywood: If I was going to succeed in Hollywood, I would have to make Hollywood the number one priority of my life.

I just wasn’t ready to do that. I had developed a deep love for God through the college campus ministry I had been involved in. I wanted to stay involved in my church. But I could see that Hollywood was going to take more and more of my time and energy.

So, I quit Hollywood. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It felt like I was throwing away a part of myself. That was in the summer of 1996.

The Reluctant Seminary Student

I ended up at Fuller Theological Seminary that fall for no better reason than that I didn’t know what else to do with my life. I thought, “What the heck. Let’s give seminary a shot.”

And I loved it! I recall thinking to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe I get to learn this stuff!”

But I wasn’t yet ready to see myself as a pastor. I thought perhaps I’d do some kind of media ministry. The only reason I started the Presbyterian ordination process was because a friend of mine brought me the paperwork and said, “Here. Fill this out and I’ll drop it off for you.”

So, I started the ordination process. And I dragged my feet the whole way.

I needed an intervention to get me to finish the process. The intervention came in the form of a Good Friday service in 2003.

I remember it vividly. It was a beautiful, contemplative service and we ended with a prayer by Saint Augustine. The first words of the prayer were, “Late have I loved you.”

My knees almost buckled when we prayed those words. I knew in that moment that I had been late in loving and surrendering to God. I prayed, “Lord, I’m so sorry. I’ve been dragging my feet for so long. Please forgive me. From now on, I’m all in.”

That summer I finished the ordination process and by the next spring I was an Associate Pastor.

Life as a Pastor

My wife and I spent the next three years in Union, Kentucky, about twenty minutes south of Cincinnati. It was a good experience, learning to live in a different culture (not Southern California!). My time there really stretched me when the Senior Pastor resigned and for seven months I was the only pastor on staff. That’s where I learned that I had a knack for preaching and senior church leadership.

In 2007, my family and I (by this time we had two small children) moved back to Southern California where I served as Senior Pastor of a church in San Diego for eight and a half years.

As I was working on my Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership at Fuller Seminary, I was learning how to lead our congregation to be a more missional church–to become a people who didn’t exist for their own sake, but for the sake of their neighborhood.

We got involved in our local schools. We cleaned up nearby alleys. We started a community garden that blessed lots of people in our neighborhood.

Flourish San Diego

In 2016, I joined on with Flourish San Diego, a non-profit that my friend Geoff Hsu had started several years earlier. Flourish San Diego’s mission is to help people and churches become who they were created to be so they can join God in flourishing our city and world.

I took the role of Director|Storyteller for Flourish San Diego. All my life, I’d loved telling stories—in the theater in high school, in Hollywood for a couple of years, as the Video Production Coordinator at Fuller Seminary during my time as a student, and as a preacher for many years after that. Now, I wanted to commit myself to telling the “Big Story” of God and invite people and churches to live into that Big Story. I wanted to help people discover their own stories and begin to live their lives as a part of God’s story.

Living Into God’s Story

So, that’s what I do. I come alongside people, churches, and teams and help them discover who they really are and who they were created to be. I inspire them find their story within the Big Story of God. And as they do that, they are better able to participate with God in bringing healing and wholeness into the world through their own gifts, passions, and vocations.

I would love to come alongside you and your team and/or church. I would love be a part of your story as you live out your part in God’s Big Story.

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