Each faith community has its own cool story of how God moved in people’s hearts to expand His kingdom through a new church. I have such a heart for church-planting and church-planters because it’s such a hard undertaking. Personally I think we need more churches of all sizes, types, and styles to reach the many kinds of people who need the Good News of life found in Jesus Christ. I think we need this more than giant conglomerate churches with 35 aisles for every felt need serving as the only one-stop-shop for faith in a given county. Let me be clear. I’m not saying, “Big churches are bad,” I’m saying, “We cannot rely on one monster church to get the job done in a city our a county. We need many churches.”
With that in mind it was fun getting to know the men and the stories of the faith communities they helped to plant. Chuckk Gerwig was once a musician that played in numerous rock bands (and he still shreds on guitar!) who was led by Jesus to become a youth pastor. God then called him to youth ministry at Santa Cruz Bible Church for a long time, until he felt the tug to plant Elevation Church about 7 or 8 years ago. Chuckk loves hurting and lost people and I love him for it. Ben Hartnell once worked in Silicon Valley making lots of money, or at least his life was pretty comfortable, until God grabbed a hold of his heart and gave him the vision of planting a church on the west side of Santa Cruz. He had been serving at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz (now called Regeneration church) for many years, but knew it was time to reach people on the west side of town. So about 5 years ago he helped plant Westside Community Church. Ben has a fantastic beard, and even more importantly, a commitment to make disciples in an under-served part of Santa Cruz. I love Ben for his commitment to Jesus and to the city of Santa Cruz. Danny Bennett originally came to Santa Cruz as a youth pastor working at the Foursquare church in Soquel (what was Lighthouse church for many years). Very quickly God gave him a heart to plant a new church, and so on Easter Sunday 3 years ago Danny helped plant Santa Cruz Hope church. Danny has that surfer instinct for surf and skate culture here in Santa Cruz and he’s established an incredible youth skate ministry for groms on the point. I love Danny’s soft-spoken personality which hides a deeply fierce spirit that longs for nothing less than the transformation of our entire county.
It’s fun to pray with these guys, and laugh with these guys. One day while we were praying one of the guys said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if . . .” I can’t remember who said it, and maybe it doesn’t matter who said it, but when he said it everybody agreed.