My excitement about serving as the Pastor for Congregational Life comes from a great desire to see people gain a deeper understanding of God’s grace and reach out with that grace to our community. In my ten years as a youth pastor and nine years as an associate pastor at ChristChurch, I believe the Lord has given me a heart for shepherding and discipleship, and a real passion for the next generation.
Coming from a broken home, I came to know the Lord at a young age and have been influenced greatly by many godly people, including family members, teachers & coaches, Young Life leaders, youth group leaders, friends & mentors. After graduating from Anderson University in 1986 and spending 5 years in retail management, the Lord confirmed a desire to be in full-time ministry in the summer of 1991. While serving as a youth pastor, I completed my graduate studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1995.
The last several years have been a time of amazing growth in Christ and movement toward self-awareness and God-awareness. I believe the Lord has led my wife of 19 years, Paulette, and me on an incredible journey of our hearts. He has taught me much about myself, but more importantly, much about Him, exposing my idols and showing me His grace, His goodness, and His sovereignty. There have been times of struggle and difficulty, but a sense of wonder and “awakening” as well, with a new discovery and understanding of God’s grace and what that really means in our lives. It is truly irresistible and it’s truly amazing! Through the privilege of being a father to two incredible daughters, the Lord is redeeming my own experiences and revealing His character as I become more and more dependent on Him.
Ministry in God’s church, many times, involves deep personal struggle. Nevertheless, I have a great desire to deepen my personal relationship with the Lord and glorify Him with my work, for I “continue to work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [me] to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12-13)
I am passionate about God`s Word, his people, and the gifts that he has given to his Church in order to spread the Good News of Jesus in a compelling and holistic manner. For those reasons I am most interested in how we, as the Church, can best enter into God`s presence and make the most of the Bible, Bread and Wine, Baptism, and Prayer which are given by our Lord with the intended purpose that they nourish his people and call others to faith in King Jesus. Everything that I do at ChristChurch (see below) starts with worship. As a Christian and as a pastor I believe it is a joy to worship God and I hope to see others, those who confess faith in Jesus and those who as of yet do not, come to share the same joy and excitement of knowing our powerful creator God as a Loving Savior, a Loving Father, and a Loving King.
I grew up in a Christian home and for all intents and purposes I do not remember a day that I did not believe the good news that Jesus died for my sins and rose again from the dead having freed my from the tyranny of sin. As I have grown older my spiritual maturity has increased and so has my understanding of how sinful I am and how beautiful God`s grace is. In late high school and college I became enamored with Theology and I continue to loving studying God and his word and am humbled by how little I know and how many questions I still have.
CALL TO MINISTRY
I started teaching in the local church when I was in college. At that time I also led some small group Bible Studies, discipled some fellow students, and began to be more interested in actively telling others about Jesus (you know without lowering my voice and being a little embarrassed!). I was encouraged by pastors, elders, and friends to seek out God`s calling for me with regard to Gospel Ministry. So in June of 2006 my wife Julie and I headed out to St. Louis where I was enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program at Covenant Theological Seminary. At that time Julie was pregnant with our first child, Hadden who is now 8 years old, and since then we have added Tennyson (6), Roan (3) and Graham (1.5). As a result our house is full of lots of sword fighting, super-heroes, and weird smells. After seminary I interned at a church in San Diego, CA for a few months and then moved to Georgia where I continued to pursue ministry while working a number of sales jobs. God taught me many things about his faithfulness, his love, and his desire to see Christ formed in me during this time. I subsequently learned much of my doubting heart, my lack of patience, and my obsession with control (among other things). But during all of that time God was preparing me for gospel ministry in ways that I still struggle to describe.
SPECIFIC WORK TO WHICH I HAVE BEEN CALLED
In June 2011 my family and I began to worship at ChristChurch and in May 2012 I was called by the elders of CCP as the Assistant pastor of Outreach and Home Groups. That means that I am responsible to insure that everything we do as a church has an outreach—evangelistic—focus. This is an exciting calling at a church where many people want to tell others (friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members) about the hope that we as Christians have in King Jesus and where people, young and old, are eager to see visitors at Church!
One way that outreach is fostered, at CCP, is in our Home Group ministry where Christians are encouraged to grow deeper in their faith, grow closer to one another and engage their neighbors together (see Home Group link).
Beyond Outreach and Home Groups I also plan and lead our evening worship service (Sundays at Seven). At this service we dig deep into the word of God, sing and pray to him in the Spirit, and engage the questions that people have always wanted to ask but have, maybe, never had the opportunity to ask them. Further, I preach regularly, teach often and offer pastoral oversight to our College ministry. In all of these areas of church life it is a joy, and a labor of love before God, to serve the people of God, and encourage an outward face that seeks the peace, flourishing, and salvation of those in the City of Atlanta.
Meg joined the ChristChurch staff in April of 2017 in a new role for the church as Executive Director. Her career has seen her work in corporate roles and ministry leadership positions in several for profit and not-for-profit and church organizations, as well as in the US military. She has lived in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Most recently she was in the Middle East for 7 years teaching local students in a community college setting while supporting the work of a US based church multi-site campus and then helping lead the prayer team at a church in a large metropolitan city. Prior to moving to the Middle East, Meg was with a large not-for-profit Christian organization serving in Africa by helping to deliver Bibles in local languages to villages and churches along the Nile River. Meg has an MBA from Troy State University and an M.Div. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
When Meg is away on a Sunday (especially in the summer), it is most likely because she is visiting family in nearby and much cooler Brevard, NC. Her two sons, their wives and 3 grandchildren (ages 2 to 21) all live in Brevard, as do her mother and her brother.
Meg is passionate about seeing people becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus. She is an ardent pray-er, longing to pray with and for people; accustomed to sharing the Love of Jesus through hands-on adventures; and developing loving and gracious relationships with women from other cultures and parts of the world. We often will see Meg in the neighborhood in the evenings or on weekends walking her dog and checking up on the building or at the YMCA working out.
God has put a passionate love in Joseph’s heart for the next generation, believing God has created a beautiful image of himself, the triune God, in the context of family. When Joseph considers God’s plan for the family, he is in awe at how the relationship between parents and their children reflects God not only in life, but in worship. For this reason, Joseph believes God has called him to equip God’s family, the Church, to diligently disciple the next generation.
Ministry to children began early, growing up in a home with parents actively involved in church and community-based programs for children and youth. These experiences early in life laid the foundation for what the LORD would use to call him into full time ministry.
After earning a degree in psychology (emphasis in child development) from BIOLA University, Joseph has spent 25 years in children’s and youth ministry – camping, urban and suburban settings, both church and community-based. He is currently working on his MDiv, with hopes of graduation and ordination coming in 2018.
Joseph met Kelly in 2001 when mutual friends relentlessly bugged him until he asked her out on a date – when he finally did so, they hit it off, marrying a year-to-the-day later.
While they have much in common, what most drew Kelly to Joseph was their differences. More so, Kelly completing her Masters in Theology has been a great benefit, not only to lead and teach others, but to also support and challenge Joseph in his approach to ministry.
From the moment they met, Joseph and Kelly wanted to be involved in foster care, even to possibly adopt. However it was not until they entered their 40’s, having struggled with infertility for 8 years, they began the process. In 2011 they were introduced to Jacob and Makiah, biologically half-brothers, whom they’d adopt nearly two years later in 2013.
Diligent Discipleship is key
Joseph has come to firmly believe in what he calls The Acts 6 Model; a scripturally based approach to diligently discipling our children through our God-given abilities, inspiring our children to 1) fall in love with God’s word, and 2) to learn how and why we worship God, loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength as we do so.
Lauren joined the ChristChurch staff as the Next Generation Youth Director in July 2015. She graduated from Grove City College, in Grove City, PA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Religious Studies and minors in Psychology and Communications.
Lauren comes from a family with a strong background in youth ministry. She was born in the suburbs of Chicago, and attended a large non-denominational church where her father was the youth minister. At the age of five and a half, her family moved to England, where her father took another youth ministry position in a parish church. Through interactions with the youth group and her own peers, Lauren gained a passion to share the Gospel with youth and teens. From an early age, she realized how important it is to be able to grow and defend one’s faith. After living in England for just over five years, her family moved to Charleston, SC. Following her graduation from high school, Lauren returned to England for a year to serve as a missionary at a Christian “camp.” During this year she was able to work with a team of Christians from across the globe to share the Gospel with both churched and unchurched youth. Through serving on that team, her passion for sharing the Gospel with students grew, and God reaffirmed her calling to youth ministry. When her time in England was over, she returned to the States to study at Grove City College.
During the summers in college, Lauren spent two summers working at a Christian summer camp near Charleston, SC. The last two summers she spent as a youth ministry intern at a Presbyterian church in Ashburn, VA. The following autumn, she was an intern at an Anglican church in Georgetown, SC. She also worked as the Digital Sales Lead at her local Barnes and Noble for a little while.
In June 2015, Lauren married her college sweetheart, James. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Business and is a classically trained guitarist. He is currently working for a sales outsourcing company, but has the desire to compose for video games and other media outlets. They both dream of starting a duo for one of his side projects.
Lauren has a strong desire to see the students of the youth ministry not only grow in their faith and understanding of the Biblical Truth, but also learn how to reach out to their friends and communities.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Jill served for 10 years as an itinerant worship leader and administrator with OM (Operation Mobilization) in both the USA and in Italy. While based in Italy, she pioneered a new initiative to bring quality musical experiences to expatriates living around the globe. Jill took on the Worship & Outreach Administrative Assistant position at Christchurch in March, 2016. Her role initially involved assisting with worship and music and recently expanded to managing events and assisting the Outreach Pastor. She particularly loves the way her background fits so well with her responsibilities. Jill holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education with a Choral Emphasis from Toccoa Falls College and later attended 10,000 Fathers Worship School, graduating in September 2015. Jill resides on the east side of the city and in her free time you'll find her with family in the suburbs, eating food with friends or resting at home watching Netflix.
Kutania is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and has served in ministering to youth and young adults for over 18 years with her husband Brian of 19 years. She and her husband share a love for music and have recorded several underground musical projects with a style of hip hop alternative and contemporary worship for the local congregation. Their message is to bring hope to the broken hearted and encouragement to strengthen the weak. Kutania and her husband have two lovely daughters, Kenya age 17 and Zionne age 10 and they reside in Powder Springs, Georgia.
Kutania has received her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and has served in children's ministry for over six years. She has a passion for reaching the next generation while leading them and their families in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Her two favorite passages of Scripture are Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” To her, these are messages of hope to all people for knowing they have purpose and knowing they are loved by God. Kutania finds joy in giving endless energy, honesty, creativity and resilience to the next generation in helping them to discover their part in God’s story.