My spiritual life has been, for the most part, a slow burning ember. I grew up with the Lord in my house and was nurtured in multiple streams of faith – charismatic, Methodist and Evangelical Free. The expression and excitement of the charismatic church (elementary years) was pretty foundational for me. I loved the music and the expectation. I loved the possibility that God could come and do something miraculous right now, in front of my very eyes.
In high school, through my involvement with my youth group leadership team, I gradually learned what it meant to have my own faith and how I might be able to influence others for Christ. We’d have after football game parties, retreats, trainings, fun events. The consistency of it really kept me out of trouble. It was a gift to me from God for sure.
At Hope College I met my wife (Simone) and the Holy Spirit about the same time. Sometimes I still have a hard time telling them apart! In a moment of worship and pouring out my heart, I received spiritual gifts from God that I did not have before. My desire for him increased dramatically, as did my understanding of the scriptures. My interests changed. My major changed. Everything changed. It was at this time that I got involved in the Vineyard as a college small group leader. I felt right at home in a place that embraced both the Evangelical and Pentecostal words I had grown up with.
Simone and I spent our dates memorizing scripture and dreaming about a future serving the Lord together. We led small groups together. I parlayed a past of orchestral percussion into involvement on the college’s worship team. Eventually they let me sing, too; and I’ve never stopped! I played for both the college’s large services and small Friday night gatherings of Vineyard students. We prayed everywhere, with anyone who would join us, for more of the Holy Spirit, and for revival.
I also studied Biology and Spanish and education. I figured God could put a teaching degree to good use anywhere in the world. That would have to wait, though, as my first job was as college ministry director at Lakeshore Vineyard Church. For three years I led the college ministry and served as a pastoral intern under Ross Naylor-Tatterson. During that time I graduated from the Vineyard Leadership Institute.
After that came 7 years of church planting in Austin, Texas. It was wonderful, painful, and adventurous all at the same time. For 5 years I taught high school Spanish; for the last two I served as the lead pastor.
By this time I had four children and the call of home and family was quite strong, so we returned to Michigan in 2011. I got a job doing technical support for a small web development company and started serving as the worship pastor at Without Walls Vineyard. I never did learn the guitar; I’m still a singing drummer. Since then, we’ve had four more children – we finally got girls at numbers 5 and 7!
I’m still quite active, although sports injuries from my youth have limited me a good deal. I love cycling and backpacking and playing with my kids.
I love the local church in all its shapes and sizes. I see my vocation as serving as a host for God’s presence—shaping environments that help us notice the work and movement of God – whether songs, sermons, liturgies or spiritual direction. So my role in the church as a worship leader, pastor, and spiritual director is to mine the depths of the Christian spirituality to find the right pathways to for people in their pursuit of God.
Get in touch with Benjamin