When we closed Advance Church in August 2015, we knew the setback had the potential to be one of the greatest set ups of our lives; we just didn’t know for what. God had cards he wasn’t showing, and that was okay. This is Las Vegas, after all.

Even so, there were days when it felt like he’d folded on us, tricked us, or both. But feelings are deceptive and, besides, we knew better.

God doesn’t gamble; he gets us home.


The backstory of our upcoming move to Phoenix could fill a book, but since this is a blog, I’ll fly you over at 10,000 ft.

1990 something:

Boy grows up in a Covenant church in Minnesota. His youth pastor is Brad Kindall.

Girl stumbles into a Covenant church in Santa Barbara eight months before starting college at ASU.


Boy takes a job as a youth pastor at an Episcopal church on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.

Brad moves to Chandler, AZ and becomes the associate pastor of Hope Covenant.

Girl has never seen a church in a strip mall, walks into Hope reluctantly.

Pastor Duane Cross and his wife, Sheri, buy Girl lunch. She keeps showing up.


Brad moves his family back to Minnesota, tells Boy to apply for his job in AZ.

Boy gets the job, parks his Pathfinder and NV license plates in the strip mall parking lot.

Girl meets Boy. Girl knows immediately where this is headed.


Pat and Karen Stark plant Genesis Church in North Phoenix.

Girl and Boy think that’s cool.


Boy and Girl blow through three life upheavals in rapid succession: Wedding at Hope. Baby. Cross country move to Minnesota.

Boy and Girl owe their marriage to AZ but announce they will never return to Phoenix because the desert is “Ew!”

God laughs, pees a little.


Seminary. Baby #2. Adoption paperwork.


Africa. Baby #3.

Boy and Girl visit Phoenix.

Duane asks Boy if he’s ever thought about planting a church.

Girl laughs, pees a little.


Boy and Girl wrestle with God.

God says, “Go.”


Boy puts NV plates on mini van, starts a church in Las Vegas.

Pat Stark becomes Boy’s church planting coach.

Boy and Girl think that’s cool.


Boy and Girl find a strip mall, grow Advance Church there.

Boy flies to Phoenix quarterly for meetings with Duane and Pat.


Boy and Girl close Advance Church.

Boy and Girl visit Hope Covenant for Duane and Sheri’s retirement celebration.

Girl cries a lot.


Boy and Girl heal at Verve Church, happily commit themselves to Las Vegas for the foreseeable future.

Pat leaves Genesis.

Duane becomes Genesis’ transition pastor.

Boy thinks this is interesting.

Girl thinks Boy should think about something else.

December 2016:

Superintendent of the Covenant’s Pacific Southwest Conference asks Boy if he can recommend him to two Phoenix churches that are searching for lead pastors.

One of the churches owns a strip mall.

Girl knows immediately where this is headed, pours wine.

January/February 2017:

Boy & Girl wrestle with God, seriously consider both churches, lose all the sleep.

God says, “Go.”

March 2017:

Boy candidates at Genesis Church. For the first time, he tells Advance Church’s story. “God isn’t finished with me,” he says. “And he isn’t finished with you.” People cry and clap. Boy and Girl’s kids are proud.

Girl knows: Boy is home. 

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished…”

Philippians 1:6