The following interview is from a series I did as part of another project, GTHR.
From time to time we like to highlight gatherers. These individuals captivate us. They draw us out. They invite us into a fuller way of being. They are relentless seekers who are passionately creating spaces for people to discover and pursue their fullest selves.
Their lives tell stories that beg to be shared. And we’re excited to introduce them to you, in their own words.
In one sentence, what is your purpose, or reason to be?
I’m here to remind and encourage, to remind you that God loves you just as you are, and to encourage you to reach out for the person you could become.
How did you come to be where you are right now?
We live in the Bay because my wife and I love it here. I pastor Mosaic for the same reason. All the other things I do and create are the result of my own striving, a bit of listening, being curious and up for an adventure, and because one night as a kid, my dad told me he’d love me no matter what I did with my life.
What big decisions along the way have brought you to the here and now? The ones where courage conquered fear.
In 2005, we moved from Kansas to Los Angeles to serve with Mosaic. Two years later, we left LA to restart a Mosaic in Berkeley. Four years after that, we broke off from Mosaic LA to become our own autonomous church. Fast forward another two years, I started writing. Last night, I asked a friend for help on a project. In a meeting about an hour ago, I asked a separate friend for forgiveness. I’ve needed courage for every bit of it, the big moments and the seemingly small ones too.
When did you realize you wanted to be in ministry? Any interesting moments as a child?
My entire adult life, I’ve felt called to ministry. It wasn’t until I was 30 that I realized I wanted to be in ministry (I’m 34 now). I didn’t realize it as much as I decided it. Before then, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be in ministry; it’s just that I wanted to do so many other things too. Then, one day, I realized wanting to do everything kept me from really doing any one thing well. That’s when I (finally) fully identified with what I felt called to do the whole time: ministry.
What’s your process these days for fostering community, relationships, and generosity (both within the community and abroad)?
Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re doing, but when you look back from the future you realize what you were doing was significant. When I was in college, a middle-aged man from my church invited me to a men’s group on a Friday morning at 6:30am. He’d started the group only a few weeks prior with the hopes of fostering community and a deeper connection with other guys. He called the group “heart-share.” Despite the name, and the group’s early start time, I went. It turned out my new friend made good coffee, great pancakes, and knew how to facilitate a good conversation. The format of the group was simple, one guy would bring a “question” – any question – and the group would spend the morning eating, drinking coffee, and one by one, answering the question. It was simple, but life-changing.
For the last 15 years, I’ve hosted or helped facilitate some form of “heart-share” with the guys in and around my life. Most every Friday morning at 6:30am, be it in KS, LA, or the Bay, I’ve committed to participating in this space. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t really answer the question you were asking, but Mosaic’s model for community – whatever it is – won’t work if I don’t model it in my own life. It’s a priority for me. And so, it’s a priority for our church.
And when you’re not doing any of the above, where can we find you?
I love to climb. I enjoying running. I’m also up at Cal quite a bit working with the football team.
Down time and work/life balance: How does this vibe with you? How do you make it all work?
Most workdays I quit ‘working’ by 3pm to work out. Two days a week I go on a long run; the other days I climb. This keeps me “balanced”, I guess. That, plus I love what I do. I’m clear about my commitments. And I have no problem taking vacation when necessary. There’re too many stories of burnout in ministry to not take rest seriously.
Most difficult situation to date?
Good question. I don’t know. None of it’s been easy. Some of it’s been fruitful. All of it’s been worth it.
Biggest triumph / accomplishment?
Again, I don’t know. I’m really proud to call Mosaic home. Our church loves people well, especially the outsider. We love the Bay Area. We’re more concerned with the Bay Area flourishing than our own “organization.”
What would you tell your five year-ago self?
Listen. Receive feedback. Don’t be afraid. Everything worth anything will cost you something.
Who do you look to for inspiration? Or, who madly lights you up and makes you want to chase down your dreams?
At the front of every journal I own, I write a letter to myself reminding me of who I am and what I’m capable of – basically, I call myself to the best version of myself. I read it at least once a week.
I also read a lot. Richard Rohr, Eugene Peterson, Gregory Boyle, Peter Rollins, NT Wright, Brian Zahnd, Dallas Willard, to name a few authors I’ve read recently and enjoyed. Also Abraham Joshua Heschel – his stuff will blow your hair back.
Finally, my favorite movie is a rom-com that nobody’s ever heard of: About Time. Watch it. The message of that little 2013 film inspires me more than any other movie I’ve seen.
Future plans? What dreams are in the pipeline?
My wife and I have a son, Zander. We’re most of the way through the California Foster-To-Adopt certification process to give him a little brother or sister. I’m also writing a book. I gave a draft to the Cal Football team earlier this Fall, and they’re loving it. I dream of writing more and encouraging more people.
What three pieces of practical advice would you share with someone who wants to create, shape, and inspire a community of their own?
Know what you’re committed to, and decide what “must” happen to realize that commitment. What must happen is different from what could happen or perhaps what should happen. When must happen is what’s going to happen no matter what.
Think long. Most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can do in 10 years.
Don’t go alone. You’ll need more than you to accomplish what God’s calling you to.
Any favorite methods, tools, or technology you’ve found to be essential?
Honestly, no. The best resource I have going for me is a clear vision and commitment to see it realized.
A personal mantra?
“It’s rare and beautiful that we even exist.” — Sleeping At Last
Where can we find you and your community online?
California Golden Bears: