The following interview is from a series I did as part of another project, GTHR.
From time to time we like to highlight community builders. These individuals captivate us. They draw us out. They invite us into a fuller way of being. They are relentless seekers of a simpler, more integrated, transparent, participatory version of ekklesia. One that reminds us of our beginnings and reunites us with our divine calling to be vessels of redemption for a world desperately out of order.
Their lives tell stories that beg to be shared. And we’re excited to introduce them to you, in their own words.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Craig Kelley. Craig is the founding pastor of Gold Country Church, a thriving and relationally-driven community based in Auburn, CA.
In one sentence, what is your purpose, or reason to be?
We want to seek the will of God, invest in our community, and share God’s love.
How did you come to be where you are right now?
God led my family to California four years ago to start a relationally-driven church.
What big decisions along the way have brought you to the here and now? The ones where courage conquered fear.
We were at a large church in our home state and the move to California called us to leave behind the security of a large salary as well as the closeness of family. It was a true leap of faith.
When did you realize you wanted to be in ministry? Any interesting moments as a child?
I didn’t! I felt called to share the life giving message of grace after a spontaneous time of sharing my story. My wife and I both knew it was a calling.
What’s your process these days for fostering community, relationships, and generosity (both within the community and abroad)?
We are intentional in seeking out relationships with the greater community.
Our heart is to go to the community and not wait on them to come to us.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to invest in the greater good of the Foothills.
And when you’re not doing any of the above, where can we find you?
I can be found at home with my kids. Six of my eight kids are still at home and I love being with them.
Down time and work/life balance: How does this vibe with you? How do you make it all work?
I’m terrible at striking the balance. My wife has free reign to manage my schedule and keep me tethered to the important. I get energy from being with people so I tend to delight in the crowd.
Most difficult situation to date?
We just had three funerals in 7 days. One of my best friends here in California, my 20 year old nephew, and a lady who attended the church I Pastored in Birmingham.
Biggest triumph / accomplishment?
I find great joy in the friendships that are being developed by the pastors in our city. For the past two years we have been meeting monthly to pray with each other and talk about loving our community well.
What would you tell your five year-ago self?
When you reach age 20 and have all the sports injuries, don’t stop working out. I’ve not been in a weight room in twenty-four years and it is not a good thing.
Who do you look to for inspiration? Or, who madly lights you up and makes you want to chase down your dreams?
My wife is the rock and the roll.
She is my greatest fan and the one who will speak the direct truth I need to hear. She encourages me to dream big and chase them passionately.
Future plans? What dreams are in the pipeline?
I really want to plant more churches. I don’t mean putting up brick and mortar in more places, but really planting life-giving, relationship building communities in other communities. That thought gets me excited.
What three pieces of practical advice would you share with someone who wants to create, shape, and inspire a community of their own?
Really, really listen to the heartbeat of those who are already investing in the community. Don’t be the insufferable know it all.
Be in as many public places as possible giving humble love and service as you see opportunity.
Any favorite methods, tools, or technology you’ve found to be essential?
Conversation! Find out whats on the hearts of people and help them feel valued!
A personal mantra?
There is always room for one more.
We have this as our family value. As we have adopted eight kids and fostered twenty five others, this has kept us open to loving and investing in the lives of kids!
Where can we find you and your community online?
2 thoughts on “The art of making room with Craig Kelley of Gold Country Church”
This is great!!