Ministry Highlights September 2012

I believe 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.  This year, remarkably, I have a commitment to speak 42 Sundays. Increasingly, I’m preaching consecutive Sundays in a number of churches—to give their pastor extended time away:  to pray, to spend time with their families, and generally to refresh themselves for more and better ministry. Currently I’m doing a four week series on Galatians (Jesus+Nothing) for Mark Leuning (The Springs, Chandler).  At the end of September I’m filling in for David Friend (North Scottsdale Christian Church), and for multiple weekends in October through December, I will be speaking at LifePoint church in San Tan.

Interim Leadership for LifePoint in Transition. I am sad to announce that David Hinman, lead pastor at the LifePoint, has stepped aside after eight years of faithful, very fruitful ministry. We released David and Lissa to plant LifePoint in 2004, and circumstances have led them to prayerfully enter a new ministry season. I have spent manyhours with David, coaching and encouraging him. LifePoint has asked me to assist them by becoming their interim pastor for the next six months while they search for a new pastor.

Pinnacle Forum.Launched by Bill Bright and Jerry Colangelo, Pinnacle Forum is a national movement “to build a network of leaders committed to personal and cultural transformation centered on the values of Jesus.”  It’s been a delight to become friends with President and CEO, Steve Fedyski. In May and June taught God’s Word to a local Pinnacle Forum chapter of highly influential community leaders. Beginning this month I will be leading a similar weekly gathering of government leaders in the Capitol complex.

Radio ministry. As many of you know, 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.

This Is Our City. As I mentioned above, Christianity Today hosted a special celebration of God-stories in Phoenix, which they are highlighting in a cover article in their September issue. They invited me to be the keynote speaker for this by-invitation-only event on September 6.  See

Consulting and Coaching

Escuela de Liderazgo Eclesiastico (School of Church Leadership) for Hispanic Pastors.  My good friend and colleague Jose Gonzalez and I have organized 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.

Our school is featured in the most recent issue of Christianity Today. My interview with them for the special ministry challenges in the Hispanic community is at this link:

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 the Gary’s partnership.”

Networking Leaders

Movement Day. I’ve invited a dozen people—key leaders of kingdom efforts in the Valley—to participate in Movement Day in New York City September 27( and the Ten City Covenant meeting the day before, also in New York. Phoenix is one of ten cities participating in regular conversations about best practices in reaching our cities for Jesus—and transforming them.  Here’s our stellar Phoenix team:

UNDIVIDED: One Church Serving the Valley.  While still at Word of Grace, I launched 3K+, a quarterly gathering of pastors with churches of 3000 or more in attendance.  This grew into an annual Pastors of Influence Summit.  All but a couple pastors of the largest churches Arizona have participated.  In January, Don Wilson of Christ Church of the Valley (20,000 in attendance!), agreed to lead our “movement” and hosted a day-long meeting where we talked seriously about working together on specific challenges in our city and state, specifically children and youth. The pastors there agreed to meet quarterly for all day meetings to develop and implement a strategic plan for the transformation of our state. Our third meeting is in November.

State Denominational/Movement Leaders. This is amazing!  In August we had our third quarterly meeting with the denominational and church movement leaders in Arizona, who represent about 1000 churches! I’ve called them together for relationship and shared kingdom mission.

Steve Harris, state superintendent for the Assemblies of God wrote to me, “In May, several of us denominational leaders met at the Arizona District Office for fellowship and sharing. It was a particularly difficult time for me, as my youngest son had just had an accident in his car, and even though he wasn’t hurt, it was distressing to my wife and me because of his lifestyle. He had had a seizure while driving and caused his car to roll twice.  What I know now is that he could have been seriously hurt but came out without a scratch.  Also my father was to have a procedure on his heart in a few days.  The brothers who were there sensed my distress and lifted me up in prayer. That was a kind thing for them to do, but more than that, they were led by the Holy Spirit. I was so grateful for their prayers and concern for me. This what happens when men of faith who are leaders get together just to share their lives and build relationships” (emphasis mine).

You Support Us—We Give Too!

In the last month, Nothing But Grace has made substantial contributions to Community Ministries (Ben Sanders), For Our City (Jon McHatton), and BridgeBuilders (Hal and Cheryl Sacks).


Our Navy son Matt was home in Arizona on leave, his first time back here for a year and half. His brother and sister and their families invaded our home for the time Matt was here with his wife Katie and their little boy, Oliver, who has his first birthday this month.

Here’s what Matt does in the Navy

Our daughter Shari and her husband have moved from Colorado Springs to Denver, where Jeff was offered a teaching position at Valor High School, an incredible private Christian school.

As I write this report, Marilyn is in California for ten days staying with David’s three kids.  Dave is on a speaking tour in the three major cities of South Africa—Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. Jill went with him.

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