Becoming a Mungarian: How I found my way back to church
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I’ve heard it said that God finds us when we’re on our knees. That’s where He found me, literally, in December of 2011.
I was going through divorce with my wife of 12 years. I’d later say I’d 'sucker punched myself,' vainly thinking that I had single-handedly and successfully mended our long-broken marriage only to be shocked when she announced she was done.
My mind reeled as I found myself nearing 40, about to be divorced and unhappy in literally every aspect of my life.
I was in the backyard with our three dogs (two of whom were about to move away) and I fell to my knees and starting howling like a wounded animal. Eventually, it resolved into something resembling words, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…”
It wasn’t so much a prayer as an instinctual cry. I had been raised Catholic – very Catholic – and having felt that I had overdosed on dogma at a young age, I abandoned the Church in college and rarely looked back.
It was cry, not a prayer, but it was answered with two names spoken to me. At the time, I puzzled briefly over where they came from.
Now I can tell you, without a doubt, it was God speaking to me.
The first name made perfect sense. Josh Jones was a business acquaintance who had gone through a divorce with triplets no less, and come out the other side happily married to another industry acquaintance of mine, Kimberly.
I made arrangements to meet with Josh and he left me with one key takeaway: I should join him and Kimberly at Munger Place Church that Sunday. I wasn’t particularly interested, but I was too weak to say no.
I walked into Munger, my first steps into a church for the better part of 20 years. I was pleased to find that the music was incredible. I was further pleased and surprised to find that Rev. Andrew Forrest’s sermon was both thoughtful and gracious towards those who weren’t all-in. I agreed to come back for a second week.
That second week, Rev. Forrest preached about a mishap in a river that led him to realize that swimming against the current is a fruitless and tiring exercise. It touched my heart and I felt better for the first time in a month. I wasn’t ready to believe, but I’d at least see where the current would take me.
I arranged to have breakfast with Rev. Forrest and nervously posited that I wanted to be a part of the community I saw growing at Munger. But, I wasn’t sure that I believed. Was there still room for me? (In retrospect, I can almost see Rev. Forrest reeling the fishing line as he welcomed me.)
Meanwhile, Josh also brought me in to a small group called 28:1 (From Proverbs 28:1: “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.) It was made up entirely of men who ran some kind of business, most of whom had a very strong faith.
Through my time in that group, continued immersion at Munger, a little C.S. Lewis, and a lot of Tim Keller, within a couple months, I returned to the fold. I believed as I never had before. I prayed a lot. I started doing all I could to make up for lost time, joining in a mission trip with 28:1 and making room for Jesus in every day. I’m not one to subscribe to the so-called ‘prosperity Gospel,’. But I found myself thriving in all areas of my life, including the launch of a successful new business venture that put me in a position to influence clients, employees and the public.
I felt His hand in my life in a way I’d never imagined.
You’ll remember there was a second name that God put in my head. That was Crystal Decker, a woman I’d never met. Somehow through business connections she’d wound up a Facebook friend. I recalled she and her husband handling their social media-age divorce as well as I thought it could be done.
I met her and she quickly became my divorce coach, then a friend, then my best friend. She was a great advocate, but seemed pretty hard-boiled. So I was surprised when one Sunday she asked if she could go to Munger with me. She had avoided church for a long time too and thought Munger sounded like a place where “thinking people of faith could be in a community without being talked down to every week.”
Crystal and I married at Munger Place on October 5, 2013.
Since then, we’ve felt called to be involved and give back as much as we can. My company consults on Munger’s social media, led by Kimberly Jones, who is one of our account directors. Crystal and I run DivorceCare at the church.
And now, together with my brothers in 28:1, I’m putting on a day-long conference to help lay business leaders figure out how best to bring their faith into their businesses.
The “Faith in Business” conference on May 1 at Munger Place has several goals:
- To bring together leaders of faith so they know that they are not alone.
- To connect people who could form their own small-groups like 28:1
- To position Munger Place as a leader in growing leaders
It makes my mind reel a little bit to think that God would call me in such a way after I had rejected Him for so many years. But that’s what happens when we accept his Grace. It’s like the Mumford and Sons song that I first heard at Munger and that Kate and the band played at the beginning of our wedding:
It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works.
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start.
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