Ministry Highlights October-December 2012

God has given me three essential purposes in this season of my life:  (1) preaching and teaching; (2) consulting and coaching; and (3) building collaborative relationships between and among key leaders. My theme for this season in my life: Getting pastors into relationships with one another, and churches together leading efforts to transform our communities.


“Interim” Preaching.  I’m preaching regularly at LifePoint in San Tan Valley, a church we planted out of Word of Grace eight years ago. I’m their interim pastor as they seek leadership for their future. I greatly covet your prayers for this challenging transition for them.

I also had the privilege of preaching at Golden Harvest Church in Arizona City for a special dedication service for their new building. The pastor there, Jim Young, attended Word of Grace some years ago and planted this new church recently. And in December I spoke at Jesus Worship Center, an amazing Spanish language church in Miami, Florida. They have 2000 in attendance, and the church is only eight years old! Fantastico!

Above: Pastor Jim Young, his wife, and Marilyn in Arizona City.

Below: preaching the second of two crowded services at Jesus Worship Center, Miami, Florida

Radio ministry. I am on the radio weekly (KPXQ 1360 AM in Phoenix), with Tom Brown as a co-host on Koinonia, 2 to 3 pm Monday through Thursday. I interview local pastors about two things: (1) what they are doing to make a difference in our cities, and (2) how they are working together with other pastors and their churches. Here’s a link to one of our best shows:

Above: Interviewing Chad Moore, teaching pastor at Sun Valley in Gilbert.

Above: Lisa Jernigan (wife of Cal Jernigan, Central Christian) and Patty Wyatt of

Consulting and Coaching

Escuela de Liderazgo Eclesiastico (School of Church Leadership) for Hispanic Pastors.  My good friend and colleague Jose Gonzalez and I have have been leading a School of Church Leadership for Hispanic pastors in the Phoenix area, many of whom are undertrained. Phoenix Seminary is providing a meeting place for our monthly, morning-long meetings, and key pastors across the Valley are teaching on leadership and growing the local church.

Jose Gonzalez says, “Gary is a key person in my new effort to train Hispanic pastors. His role as a mentor and special collaborator has been of very special help. The new effort in training Hispanic pastors is called ‘School of Church Leadership,’ and our purpose is to get help from Anglo pastors of large churches to teach Hispanic pastors. This effort would not be possible without Gary’s partnership.”

Don Wilson, lead pastor at Christ Church of the Valley sharing in our School of Church Leadership for Spanish-speaking pastors.

Networking Leaders

My goal: and  Marilyn and I attended the Town of Gilbert annual community awards banquet, because my dear friend and colleague Jon McHatton received the Mayor’s Volunteer of the Year Award along with Pastors Tim Thompson (Fountain of Life Christian Fellowship) and Larry Schatt (Central Christian). I serve on the For Our City advisory council.

Gary, Larry Schatt, Tim Thompson, Jon McHatton, Gilbert Mayor John Lewis.

Immigration reform efforts.  Conservative Christian leaders across the country gathered in Washington DC the first week of December to have a conversation about changes in our immigration laws. Many key Republicans have changed their tune since the election, because they realize they have lost the Hispanic vote. Romney garnered only 27% compared to 47% for President Bush in 2004. Had Mitt Romney received 47% of the Hispanic vote, most of whom are pro-life and pro-family, he would have won the popular vote by 2 million—and would have won most if not all of the battleground states. The reason for reform, though, is not political. It’s humanitarian! So a delegation from Arizona attended the one day event and spent the following day meeting with congressional leaders from Arizona. Our new senator Jeff Flake told us he was “bullish” on solving the immigration problems.

With our new Senator Jeff Flake. Left to right: Tom Parker (Director of Fuller Seminary SW), Tyler Johnson (Lead Pastor, Redemption Church), Chris Schutte (Pastor, Christ Church Anglican), Galen Carey (National Association of Evangelicals), Gary and Marilyn, Senator-elect Flake, Ian Danley (Neighborhood Ministries), Warren Stewart (Senior Pastor, First Institutional Baptist Church), and Jim Tomberlin (Multi-site Solutions—and the good friend who coached Terry Crist and me through the leadership transition at Word of Grace).

After our meetings, Ian Danley wrote me this amazing email:  “What an amazing pastor, friend, leader, organizer, a dozen other roles, you are! Our meeting with Congressman Trent Franks turned out to be much more meaningful than I expected, and you were so crucial to that. I also really appreciated Marilyn being with us. She jumped right in and engaged in a hectic and loaded couple of days. Too many dudes without any ladies around is never a good thing. You have stood with us and with me so many times now. It feels good to know leaders like you exist in my city and I get to call you my friend. I don’t know what will come of all of this and ultimately it is in God’s hands. But we made this trip happen, and I think it was incredibly useful and strategic.”

Here’s an article about our visit to Washington DC that appeared in the Arizona State University State Press:


Almost all our children and grandchildren will be home for Christmas. Our Navy son, his wife and little boy, can’t get away this year. It’s one of those things that military families sacrifice to serve our county. We found that the whole extended family sacrifices. When our daughter said goodbye to Matt last summer, she cried bitterly, because she knew she wouldn’t seem him for another year.

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