Planting & Growth

Everything Is Changing Again!

Planting & GrowthThat’s how God keeps growing us. He never lets us sit still. Even if we spend our entires lives in one place geographically, things are changing inside us and around us all the time.

Our family has been through a lot of changes over the last year and a half. We’ve added Sam to the family and moved across the country to southern California to join the staff of Saddleback Church. Even my responsibilities here at Saddleback have changed from simply trying to kick off a community to that plus overseeing correspondence for the Office of Pastor Rick Warren. And now, things are changing again.

Over the last decade, Angie and I have had numerous conversations about church planting. We’ve talked in hypothetical terms many times and have said things like “God might just be preparing to use us to plant a church someday.” Now, someday is here. In July of this year, our family will be relocating back to Bentonville, Arkansas to plant a new church.


This decision fits perfectly with the flow of what God has been doing in us. Isn’t it just like God to move us from a community we loved so much across the country to put us in one of the best training facilities available (Saddleback Church) and then confirm His calling in our lives to go back to Bentonville and plant a brand new church, the very first Saddleback Network church.

We could write endlessly as to “why” we believe God brought us through Saddleback. We believe whole heartedly that we are returning to Arkansas changed people. The biggest lesson God has been teaching us is to simply “trust”. Moving our little family to California was a big leap of faith. God has honored that step and has been more than faithful. We have had the opportunity to learn from the best church leaders you will find anywhere. They have invested in us and we feel called to carry what we’ve learned and go “be the church” in Northwest Arkansas.

I’m a different guy than I was even a year ago. Angie and I have a different marriage than we did a year ago. My outlook on ministry and on the world has expanded greatly. The speed at which we make decisions, our understanding of community, our feelings about a globe in desperate trouble have all been fueled by being in the atmosphere of Saddleback Church. Pastor Rick often says that “God calls some people to Saddleback, and He calls others through Saddleback.”

Steven Furtick wrote recently about how God uses “hubs” in our lives to help us make connections leading to our final destination. He wrote…

God knows how to get you to where He wants you. Even if it doesn’t seem like the most direct route that you’d prefer. And He’s not just wasting your time or playing games with you. There’s a purpose to every hub He takes you to. To the hub you may be in right now.

Source: Steven Furtick

Pastor Rick has set a course for Saddleback that includes planting hundreds of churches in the next decade and Geoff Surratt, Pastor of Church Planting, is helping to implement that vision. And guess what? We get to go first! We get to be, as Geoff put it, Saddleback’s “guinea pigs” for what the process looks like.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Kenneth, a friend of mine back in Bentonville. He was going through a very difficult time in his life and had many serious questions about what faith in God really looks like. We began meeting weekly and after just a few weeks, Kenneth made a commitment to Christ. In spite of his 6′ 5″ police officer frame, I baptized Kenneth without drowning either of us. Later in Kenneth’s story, Christa came into his life. She too trusted Christ and I baptized her as well. I performed their wedding and visited their first home to pray with them just after they moved in.

Not a day goes by that I don’t hunger for more Kenneth’s in my life – people who are hungry for purpose. Angie and I are ready to go where God has called us and spend the rest of our lives reaching, teaching, and loving a community for Jesus Christ.

As for my role with I will continue to serve as Editor and Online Community Facilitator for the site for some time and will always be a key contributor, even at the point at which the community needs a new leader in place.

You can follow more announcements about Grace Hills on Twitter, Facebook, or by subscribing to the email newsletter. And I’ll certainly be issuing plenty of updates along the way here on my blog as well.

We definitely ask for your prayers, and that’s the greatest way you can help us. Pray for details to fall in line, for financial provision, for spiritual protection, and for the community of Bentonville to be receptive to our coming there to serve the needs of the people.

If you are interested in making a financial investment or partnering with us in some way, I would love the opportunity to talk with you. Simply contact me or check out the support page of Grace Hills.

We’re so thankful for the friendships and relationships we’ve made along the way. Each day we are here makes it that much harder to think about leaving. God has surrounded us here with a small group of friends, mentors, counselors, and teachers. We’ve been granted the gift of learning from one of the world’s most influential churches.

God has been so good to us! And now we’re ready to experience Him in this next chapter of our adventure!

photo source: stock.xchang

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