I first learned about Christ when I was five years old. I "said the prayer" and considered myself a Christian from that moment forward. I was living in Birmingham, Alabama, at the time: God-fearing, Bible-belt America.
I attended a Christian school for a few years. I went to Sunday School. I won the Bible drill competition every single week. I hung out with kids from my youth group. I didn't drink or smoke or do drugs.
In other words, I was a nominal Christian.
Then came college. For the first time, I was removed from the bubble of my Christian home and given the opportunity and freedom to do as I pleased, so that's exactly what I did. I never went to church while away at school, even though there were plenty from which to choose. I never involved myself in a single Bible study. I did not date Christian girls. I did learn to drink. Well.
But Christ never let go of me. Reflecting back, I may have drifted, but He was always there, gently whispering.
After college I moved to Dallas to work for a management consultancy. It was during this time that Christ began to call me back to Himself. Still gentle, still whispering... But this time I listened. I got involved in a local church and began to press into Him in a way that I had not done in many years. Or ever, really. From that point on, the spiritual markers in my life became more frequent and noticeable. I learned about grace. I began to understand the cross... All this time and I had never truly understood the significance of it. I learned how to forgive. I still made tons of mistakes, but now I sought to learn the lesson in them and to see how God was working, changing and refining me through them.
So that's what happens when Christ stops being merely cultural and starts being real. That's my story.
A few years later, I heard a guy named Matt Chandler preach at Metro Bible Study. When I found out that Matt had taken a position at the First Baptist Church of Highland Village, I showed up on his first official Sunday. That was December 8, 2002, and I've been at The Village ever since. Matt and I sat down at the Starbucks across the street shortly thereafter and talked about what could be. Matt said, "Someday, we'll look back on this conversation and say, 'Remember when?'"
And we still do.
Hope for The Village Church
My hope and prayer for The Village Church is that it would be a place where the glory of Christ Jesus is clearly seen and heard. A place where lives are transformed, people are healed, and reconciliation takes place. A place where spirit and truth are in balance. A place where people understand the message of the cross. And a place where the name of God is magnified above personalities, and programs and buildings.