Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I doubt a lot... It kinda feels good to get that out there. In fact, I have always struggled with doubt.  It is kind of a weird dynamic in my life because overall I am a normally confident person.  I don't struggle with needing to please people, in fact at times I should probably care a bit more what people think of me.  But I don't.  So it seems that I wouldn't be one to struggle with doubt, but I do.

For instance:

  • I was an all state athlete and seriously doubted by abilities nearly every time I stepped on the field.
  • I have had such deep doubts about faith over the years that I am not sure it was good for me to be in ministry at the time.
  • I have had numerous people affirm my ability to deliver a sermon, but it only takes one negative comment to let the doubt monster begin wreaking havoc in my psyche as to whether I should be doing this as a profession.
It may come as a disappointment to some who read this to find out that a man who gets paid to be a man of "faith", struggles with doubt.  I have heard all the sermons about being created in God's image, being beautifully and wonderfully made, I get it...I really do, but somehow doubt still creeps in at times.

Lately I had begun to struggle with the validity of what is going on at Catalyst, the church I pastor.  We are basically a rock-n-roll church, beyond casual, and light on guilt and shaming techniques.  I wear jeans and t-shirts and will preach in flip flops when the temps outside are nearing triple digits.  

I don't yell or scream, or use a different voice to preach than I would use to talk to you over dinner.  I tell lots of stories... I rarely have people repeat greek words after me and seem to cry most often when I am apologizing to folks who have been burned by churches or had God misrepresented to them in the past.   

We have never had a service that ended with people weeping and crying around the altars.  

I don't always know what God is up to in the lives of the people who worship with us on a regular basis.  

I have doubted whether there is room in my denomination for a church like us.. because I have a hard time answering all the questions they want me to answer for the end of the year report.  How many saved?  How many sanctified?  How many of this?  How many of that?  

Half the time I just guess.  Kinda seems stupid to put a big ole' "I have no stinkin' clue" in the answer slot.

This Sunday erased any doubt that had creeped  in and caused me to question the validity of what God is doing in our people.  We baptized 5 people and affirmed the baptism of three more.  As I read the testimonies of these people to our church, people were moved to tears.  It was powerful! Men, Women, first time guests who had never met the baptism candidates, were wiping away tears for the better part of 20 minutes.  

We clapped and cheered and hollered for each person who entered and exited the baptism tub, I have never heard an ovation in our church like I heard when we baptized my buddy Ronald.  See Ronald keeps FUBU in business, has tattoos all over the place, the one I see most often is on his neck.  Ronald is also one of our greeters.  One of the first faces people see when they enter our church...When I finished reading his testimony our place went nuts.  When he came up out of the water I didn't know if they were ever going to stop clapping and cheering.  

The whole morning will be a moment that sustains me when doubt wants to creep back in.  I am convinced now more than ever that there is room for a rock-n-roll church with a pastor that wears flip flops and is perhaps too transparent in the pulpit.  God is still in the business of raising spiritually dead people to life... and I have NO DOUBT about it!

Here is a link to the service....

Below is Ronald's Testimony....

My name is Ronald Spencer

I grew up with two siblings a brother and a sister. Never had a father figure in my life. At the age of 12 I found out the man I thought was my father, really was not. It kind of messed my head when after he was gone, he wanted nothing to do with me.

I was then bounced around to different homes with family. The men my mother chose to have in her life were always very abusive towards me and only me. So I thought to my self " I CAN NOT TAKE THIS ANYMORE". I chose to leave and ended up on the streets at the age of 14. By the age of 15 I was at my first boys home. By the age of 17 I was getting out of my second boys home. By 18, I was on my way to prison with a sentence of 5 years. There is a lot more to the story, but that's the jist of it.

When I turned 23 I was just getting out of prison. I met the woman I can proudly call my wife and son Nicholas. But I was also at a point in my life where I felt "yes I was not in prison but still had nothing of my own."

My friends introduced me to "METH”. All this happened at the same time... the good "Meeting Brenda" and the bad "Deciding to do drugs". Within 6 months or so i was hooked.... That's when I also found out Brenda was pregnant with our son, Trystan. But I did not care about any one or anything... Including myself. I never really talked to God up to this point. But I remember asking him to help me stop doing the things I was doing to Brenda, my kids, and myself.. I can not tell you when, where, or how I even thought to ask him. With all this happening I found myself alone again, still asking for his help. and here I go again on my way to prison again for the second time.

I know now that that was God answering my prayers. While i was there,  then I knew that it had to stop. Or I was going to loose what little self worth I had and loose the family that I was hoping would not leave me... Meaning Brenda and the boys. I made a promise to God and to myself to never go back to that lifestyle i once lead. I can honestly say from the moment I set foot on "FREE WORLD GROUND" I have never looked back.

I was 28 when I finally got out of prison and came home to what I thought was my family.... Things were very hard coming back... I thought things would be happy and go luck... But Brenda had changed I had definitely changed and we tried to mesh what feelings we thought we had before... We tried to not skip a beat but that did not happen... Brenda had been doing Matt and Rachel Hiebert's hair for a while and they had invited us to church on numerous occasions.... With that being said, we never would go... When we were ready to throw in the towel and give up on the relationship, we showed up at Catalyst. This was a year and a half after I got out of prison for the last time. From the moment we set foot into Catalyst we have felt home. It was in these doors that Brenda and I were able to rebuild our relationship with God in our lives.It took me a while to figure out that God was calling me to his house. I realize that now. I have been clean and sober of meth for 6 and a half years. Thanks to God and the love of him and my family. That is why today I am fully letting go and letting God take control. He is my father that I never knew I had. I can Honestly say today that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. My Baptism today will full show my commitment to God.

Ronald Shane Spencer

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