My parents helped found a church in Columbia, Missouri, so I literally grew up in the church and even attended Christian school. I can distinctly remember accepting Christ in kindergarten when our teacher asked if anyone wanted to invite Jesus into their hearts. I raised my hand, and we went out in the hall and prayed.
When my wife, Alyssa, and I started dating, we decided early on that if we were going to be together, we needed to find a church where we both felt fed. Alyssa’s background was Catholic, and the non-denominational church I grew up in was charismatic. I remembered coming to a Christmas concert at CPC, so I thought we’d try a service. John Crosby [former senior pastor] spoke that first Sunday, and we both walked out, quiet, and I said, “I really liked that.” And she said, “So did I!” and so we’ve been here ever since.
My faith journey contains some formative, mountaintop moments . . . though you’re not meant to live on the mountaintop. You’re meant to come back down. I grew up at a very charismatic church, where people spoke in tongues and were slain in the Spirit. I remember when we had a Holy Spirit “outbreak” in our church. I saw people being healed—things we don’t talk about or see a whole lot in this day and age. For the first time I understood that God was not just “out there” but actually working in our lives in tangible ways. But the awkward early teen years were kinda tough on me. I was always a chubby kid. Fairly tall but super chubby. And then in a period of two years I didn’t gain a pound but grew a foot and a half, and I suddenly became a different being. But in that time, I was really struggling with some bullying, some depression. God, in a very real way, I think, saved me from . . . well, who knows? I had some thoughts of suicide. I don’t think I’d have ever acted on it, but I remember praying and feeling released from it. I haven’t felt that deep darkness since.
In high school I went to a conference where I really got on fire in my faith. I was reading the Bible and praying all the time. I felt this deep connection, a deep desire to be engaged. But rather than go into more of the experiential, charismatic end of things, it set the stage for me wanting to deepen my understanding of God and theology. I started going to a Presbyterian church; I was interested in moving away from the emotional side of my faith to the rich, deep theology that I started to be fed by.
When I was nominated to be an elder of CPC, I felt that if God wanted me to serve in this way, I would do it. Then I was asked to be the Chair of Personnel, and I remember responding, “I can’t think of anyone more underqualified than me to do this.” But when I think of the people God used in the Bible, it was rarely the most qualified who were chosen! It’s not about being the most qualified, it’s about being willing to serve.
The more life goes by, the more I understand all Jesus is. Since I was a kid, I’ve known that Jesus is my Savior. But in America, we have the feeling that you get what you earn. And I certainly grew up believing that if I do more “good stuff,” better things would happen to me. But I’ve come to the point—though I still struggle with this—that it’s not about what I do. Doing good things is an outcropping of this joy and love that is flowing through me because of Jesus. Realizing that was a huge leap in my faith, one that has really hit home to me in the years I’ve been at CPC. What does Jesus mean to me? He’s saving me and there is NOTHING I have done to deserve it.
Seth serves as an Elder.