"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24: 15b NIV)
Ever since I gave my life to Christ, I have tried to let Him have it all. After my Walk to Emmaus in the mid 1990’s, I was on a hayride for a local church. I went into the sanctuary and prayed that I could be used in some way to make a difference in the lives of others, that I would be able to reach those who had not accepted Jesus, that my life would be a reflection of Jesus, and that I would follow Him in whatever direction He would lead. I asked that He make it plain for me to know where I was to be, that He close the doors I wasn’t to go through and open the doors where He wanted me to go. I wept before Him, knowing how feeble I was in understanding what He had in store for me.
Soon after that, my family visited the Eastside Vineyard and felt led to attend there. Within a short time, I was asked to be their worship leader, and although my wife, Dona, and I had performed concerts for several years in our Christian music ministry, this was different. I was different. I really was a new creature in Jesus Christ.
One of my strongest supports was that Dona felt equally called to ministry, and it was a time of growth for us as we began to focus on prayer and Bible study. We enrolled in Biblical Studies and Ministry at Cincinnati Christian University. Being full-time students wasn’t easy for people over forty, working regular jobs, plus fulfilling duties at church, but God continued to guide us through the process. (And, yes, Dona did get a slightly higher grade than I did!)
After three years, we left the Vineyard to serve internships at Franklin Chapel, a small church near our home. They wanted to offer a contemporary service since many younger families were driving out of the area to find one. I was the worship leader, while Dona performed the secretarial duties. I also became one of the elder/shepherds and a licensed pastor during this time.
Upon graduation, I planned to look for a church to pastor, but we decided to use the time between our last class and the graduation ceremony to offer help to a church that wanted to start a contemporary service. We were looking for a place that shared our conservative beliefs and were led to Bethel United Methodist Church.
As it turned out, God had His own plan for the next 14 years, and Bethel offered me a staff position in May, 2004. I thought my schooling was over, but the UMC required several more months of classes, mentoring, and a Licensing School. After completing that, I took additional courses at a United Methodist Seminary and finished those studies in 2013.
At Bethel, I served as associate pastor and contemporary worship pastor, provided congregational care, conducted the Shut-In ministry, did counseling, performed weddings and baptisms, led small group studies, and helped guide seekers to receive Jesus Christ. I also officiated at many funeral services, grieving with and offering comfort to the families. I have always tried to be an example and have a deep and abiding love and responsibility for others.
Over the years of this journey, I’ve been blessed to be part of many Christian organizations and endeavors: “Sanctuary” Music Ministry, Compassion International, Greater Cincinnati Emmaus, Tri-State Christian Music Festival, WAKW Youth Emphasis Project, See You at the Pole, Billy Graham Mission Crusade, and National Day of Prayer, as well as various outreach events, small groups, bible studies, and worship teams.
There are times when I still want to know what is next, which door will be closed and which will be opened, but I realize it doesn’t really matter. It’s the Holy Spirit who is directing me; I just want to be willing to follow. Gratefully, Dona will be by my side. We are looking forward to getting to know each of you. May God bless you and Maineville UMC!