Do you remember when the teacher used to ask you who you wanted to be when you grew up? Jamie would probably have said something along the lines of a nurse or doctor. Danny might have said he wanted to be a musician. And both of us began pursuing careers along those lines in college.
Can you recall the moment that you awakened to what God actually designed you for? We hadn’t met each other yet, but individually God began to stir something in our hearts for church leadership and pastoral ministry. Without knowing it, our paths began to shift towards one another. The following year we enrolled in a leadership training program through the church we were attending and met the person who would become our future spouse.
Our dating relationship consisted mostly of conversations. We were both working full-time, going to school, and trying to fit a meaningful dating experience into any gaps in the schedule. It translated into a lot of late night phone calls. Those early conversations would prove to be life-shaping as we tried to wrap our minds around God’s master plan and how we would fit into His eternal story. Personally, each of our lives had been transformed by an encounter with God. We knew that we wanted to spend our time, energy, and resources to provide that same experience for others. And the dream of becoming lead pastors of what would become Sun City Church was born.
Ministering to people has consistently been a defining mark of our relationship. When we were first married, we moved to Bend, Oregon where we served as volunteer leaders. Whether it was leading worship, hosting small group discussions, teaching doctrine classes, preaching to the youth ministry, meeting with individuals one on one, or strategizing for ministry structure, we loved investing in the local church. And looking back, it was during this season that God began to clarify some of the details of our dream. We realized that we loved doing life together with others through small groups and team ministry.
In 2005, Pastors Steve and Taunia Meistrell asked us to move back to the Treasure Valley and become youth and worship pastors for their young church plant. The opportunity gave us an inside look at starting a church. From raising funds, to building a leadership team, to developing a service, we learned more than we could have ever imagined from the hands-on training. We began a youth ministry from scratch, learned how to put on a conference for the youth of Idaho, and helped grow an intern program that has become a satellite campus of Portland Bible College. Throughout the years, God further clarified the original dream in our hearts. Little by little, we have come to understand who God has uniquely created us to be and the specific work He has called us to do.
The dream of God that we have been carrying inside of us for the past decade has become a reality. In January of 2015, we opened the doors to Sun City Church. We have been on the journey of a lifetime as people from all over have joined the Dream Team and become part of what God is doing in Spokane, Washington. David Shapiro has said, “The good life is living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.” It has become the main goal for our family these past few years as we relocated and began the daunting work of starting something from nothing. Today, we are daily celebrating the realization of that goal as we pastor and lead in a city we love with amazing people alongside us.
Every week since we launched, people who are far from God have decided to start or renew a relationship with Him on Sunday mornings. Families have started to attend church together for the first time in their lives. Children and parents are talking about God around the dinner table. People who have never served at church are excited to get involved with the Dream Team.
This is the story of Sun City Church. And it is just beginning.