This year I will travel more than 100,000 miles on 80+ plane flights. TSA Pre-check is wonderful but it can only help so much. By many standards, this year should be one of the most painful years of my life. Ironically, it is shaping up to be one of the most rewarding.
This year, Intentional Churches (IC) will work on Intentional Growth Plans with more than 35 churches (and growing!), and facilitate 18 LifePlans for church leaders. The majority of these churches are experiencing unprecedented growth and an increase in unique impact. We look forward to telling you more of those stories in the coming months. But none of that is the reason I do this. I’m motivated by the story of my own past, and the idea that millions of other “Doug Parks” still need to come to know Christ.
I grew up in the hills of Southeastern Ohio. This was a blue collar, hard working small town. In my area, men worked hard, but were often distant and disengaged from their families.
My family was no different. My dad worked many hours in the oil fields. And as hard as he worked, he took his downtime equally as seriously. You can just imagine the habits he formed to release the tension of those difficult days – habits shared by most of my friends and family members.
Life was tough inside my home. When I was young, Dad was a heavy drinker and big time brawler. As he aged, he became isolated and depressed. Drinking was simply a way of life. I literally grew up with a Schlitz beer tap in my family room. It even had the branded tap handle, just like you would see at the local bar! As weird as it may seem to you, this was my ‘normal.’
You get the picture, right? This was life. This was my pattern and my example. And all things being equal, this should still be my life today. But it’s not.
In my teen years, Dale Harlow, the youth pastor from First Church of Christ Caldwell, came into my life. Dale intentionally showed up at our high school to connect with students at lunchtime. By God’s grace, he befriended me. He connected me to the youth group, and introduced me to what healthy relationships looked like. I’m forever indebted to Dale.
My life not only changed for the good; it took on a whole new direction. As Tom Paterson would say in his LifePlanning process, Dale Harlow and the First Church of Christ Caldwell were a “Life Gate” for me. Life Gates are life-changing moments or experiences where nothing is ever the same again.
In the years following, I became deeply involved in my youth ministry, and decided to go on to Bible college. For a season, I thought business was the best path for me, and I became an owner-operator of Chick-Fil-A of Eastgate Mall. I did well, winning awards and progressing through the ranks…but it didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t my true calling.
I walked away from business and jumped into ministry in the local church. I moved to Las Vegas to join the team of a church plant. Eventually, I became the Executive Pastor at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. And today I’m at the helm of Intentional Churches, alongside Bart Rendel, casting a vision to see thousands of churches double their Kingdom Impact.
So why would I do this? Why would I leave a business career with a bright future and move to a crazy place like Las Vegas? Why would I leave Canyon Ridge and start IC? Why would I get on so many airplanes and spend so many nights in a strange bed throughout the course of this year?
For me, the answer is simple. It’s my new ‘normal.’ I deeply believe that within the evangelistic vision of your church there could be hundreds, or even thousands, of “Doug Parks”– kids and adults trapped in a lost pattern they are destined to repeat if something doesn’t change. These people desperately need a holy intersection where they can meet Jesus, and become part of a local church that cares about them.
Imagine if each church could be as intentional as Dale Harlow and First Church of Christ Caldwell. Imagine if each church could craft a unique vision to double its Kingdom impact. The course of generations would be changed. Families would be transformed. Communities would be impacted for good. And destinies would truly be redirected.
THIS is why I do this.
Ministry is a challenge, no matter how you slice it. Why do you do what you do?