Pastor Tyler was living a life for Jesus, or so he thought. In his mind he was focused on Jesus and following the right path, but his heart was far from invested. When God got a hold of his life and brought him back to life he finally found true freedom.
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Tyler [00:07:50] It doesn’t happen this way for everyone. But God kind of cured me of that. We put healthy boundaries in it. I had an honest conversation with God, which was hard. And then I had to have an honest conversation with my wife, which was even harder. And I shared with her that I was struggling with these things and I expected to be kicked out of the house or having to sleep on the couch. And what I was met with was a compassionate and forgiving grace and a depth of love that I didn’t expect and an embrace. As I said, we put some boundaries in place for that. But that temptation is one that has been not as prevalent as it has. Now, it’s everywhere so you’ve got to be careful what you put in your body, in your eyes especially. But that space was something that I was able to surrender. And we took that next step. We started coaching other group leaders, and before we knew it, we started another group, put a leader in place and started a third group. And my wife was like, “Hey, I want to know people and I want to love them and I want to spend time with them.” All the time. I’m still doing a business and trying to figure out how to be a dad and all the other things that are going on. And before we knew it that coaching became about 20 hours a week of volunteering and my wife and I were doing it together and we were excited to be serving together. And then that became a part time role within the church where we were serving. We were serving at 27 years old, we were serving 700 people in group. And I had never been in that high of a leadership capacity before, but all I was teaching them was to follow Jesus. And in most of these people were my parents and grandparents age. And so I was like, “What am I going to teach them about following Jesus when they follow Jesus longer than I’ve been alive?” But they were gracious with me and they saw the passion and the zeal that I had for following Jesus, and it inspired them to help their people do the same thing. Before we knew it, we got to interview to go full time in groups, which was exciting. But I still had this business that I was going for. I had a good amount of business debt. we had about $50,000 of business debt. This was about 2012. And it was my dad had loaned me the money to get involved in this business. I was afraid of letting him down. But I knew I was called to be involved more with the church.
Tyler [00:10:04] So we took the full time job and for about four months I did both. I did about 60 hours in my business and about 35 hours with the church. And the only way that it worked is my family was involved during the time that we were getting involved in church and we were praying and trying to sell the business, and God provided a buyer. It didn’t look like what I thought it was going to look like. I wanted a big check and I wanted to cash out and I was like, “Yes, let’s go.” And that’s not how I looked. We had just we got a check for just enough and then payments for a year and that buyer made every single payment and we walked away from that business debt free. It was a huge win for us that year.
Tyler [00:10:41] If you’re a business owner, you know, we take time off, you don’t get paid. And so we took a year off and we enjoyed vacation and we enjoyed a steady paycheck of consistency and seeing growth and fruit in the church that we were involved in. It was, you know, that church was figuring out how to how to operate, how to have momentum and making adjustments and reorganizations. And so they reorganized and we change everybody’s position and try to help figure out how to embrace the mission and go differently. And about a year in, my pastor came to me and said, “We think that you should get some more education and prepare yourself for ministry more.” And so I said, “Sure.” So I went to Northwest University and started doing their their pastoral studies degree and got a certificate in ministry and leadership, all the while work in ministry. And at this time we had our third kids, our third kid had joined us and figuring out how to balance school and life and that format really worked really well for us.
Tyler [00:11:41] But I learned not just how to love God with all my mind, I started to learn how to love Him with all my heart and how to love Him with all my life. Instead of having these compartments, I loved Jesus all throughout every area of my life so that when I’m in school, I’m representing Jesus. Well, when I’m working, I’m representing Jesus. Well, when I’m a dad, I’m representing Jesus well. And it was a really beautiful tie between like theology and how to live it out.
Tyler [00:12:06] I ended up going finishing my undergraduate at Multnomah University, and we had made the decision to go drive down to Portland from the Puyallop area. And so I was like, well, I used to drive 600 miles a week for my business. It’s not a big deal for us to drive a little bit more. And so once a week I drove down there and and what’s incredible is over five times…I only drove to Portland five times before God had moved us into the Portland area, 30 minutes from the university where we were, where I was studying. And I took a youth pastor job at a very, very small church. We served faithfully down there and I finished my bachelor’s while I was working down there and it was a crazy busy time. But God use that time to teach us how to be faithful in ministry, how to suffer well. So when I finished my bachelor’s, I started looking for a different role. I loved working with youth, but I was more passionate about discipleship for adults and helping adults get into groups and adult discipleship more than kids discipleship. And don’t get me wrong, you know, especially having youth age kids now, it’s very important to invest in the youth. But for me I was feeling more called to the adult time. And so we started applying different places and God called us up to Auburn. And I served associate pastor up there for about three and a half years, helping in groups and discipleship and assimilation and that kind of thing. And then we ended up becoming an associate pastor at it’s a church in Tacoma, and this is right before COVID. They were looking for an executive kind of helping look to bring some systems and structures together. And so it was the most interviews that I’ve ever had for any job. They have never hired an outside church or an outside somebody outside their church in their position before. So there were seven interviews and they made a decision to do it to bring me on staff. And so I was like, “Great, let me arrange things where I’m at and then get things ready to go.” And so I took three weeks off between jobs just to kind of recover and and to rest and get ready. And those three weeks for the first three weeks of COVID lockdown.
Tyler [00:14:11] Now, I never expected to start at a church and build relationships by holding a phone in front of me or a camera in front of me, you know, sharing the message of the gospel with a camera in front of me all the time or meeting people over Zoom. Those were things that I just never really thought that that’s how you meet people. I love being with people and shaking their hands and being eyeball to eyeball, but COVID dind’t afford us that luxury. And so we went all online and they brought me on, and we figured out how to be flexible and fluid in ministry. In June or come about May when it was permissible, we started figuring out how we could meet. And so in June and July of 2020, we helped develop 90 volunteers in three campuses, one in Puyallop, one in Lakewood, and one in Tacoma. And to help the church meet in person again. Hebrews talks about not forsaking the gathering. And that was a passage that we all held close in COVID. But we got to live it out because there was so much fear about getting sick and what that looks like of being, you know, how do we still influence and be a part of this culture and do what we’re called to do?
Tyler [00:15:19] After we launched the third campus, my pastor came to me and said, “Hey, I think you’re a church planner.” And I said, “Well, maybe I’m not sure. I want to finish my my seminary degree.” I was about a year away from finishing it. I said, you know, but, you know, after that, sure let’s talk about it. So that was August and he comes back to me in November and he goes, “What’s the future of your campus? Are you going to be a church plant or are you going to be campus?” My wife and I prayed about it. We thought about it and we’re like, “We should be a campus.” We have a lot to learn. They do family in a really neat way in this church. And the hospitality was something that we wanted to learn from. They did church in a way that most of the churches that we had been been to hadn’t done. And the pastor says to me, “Well, you’re gonna need to raise 50% of your salary.” And I said, “Well, if that’s the case, then I think we’re planting.” I still wanted to hear from God to confirm that that’s what we were supposed to do. And so we had confirmed that that was what it is. I shared it with my wife. We had prayed and we had fasted about that. And Thursday we had said yes. And Saturday the Lord was like, “Okay, here’s what I have for you.” And I was like, “This is great, but how do I know this isn’t like a bad dinner last night?” Like, the burrito didn’t go bad in the stomach, right? So I read through most of the book of Acts and I couldn’t get past the passage that where the church asks for boldness to share the gospel even though things are difficult. And I started thinking about what’s keeping us from being bold with the gospel? It’s not COVID, it’s not regulations, it’s not people. It’s not politics. Our comfort zones are what are keeping us from being bold.
Tyler [00:16:57] So that’s what really confirmed for us to plant a church. And so in January, we started asking people to join us. We had a real clear picture that we wanted to share what biblical hospitality look like. Which means inviting people to your table and the table of the coffee shop or at your dining room table or even tables at church. And 50 people said, “Yes.” And so we launched April 2021. We had over 100 people that came all six feet apart, all masked. I preached masked, we sang masked, Everything was all masked. And we were just flexible to see what God was going to do in the space. That was an incredible celebration to reach some of the community in that first Easter. And then we’re back to reality. And that’s 33 people joined in going in the same mission. That’s how Table of Hope was born. That’s the name of our church. And our mission is to use our tables to share the gospel, which means that we share meals quite often to help lower the barriers, to help people to be able to connect and relationship. And so we’ve got a group of people that meet Sundays at five for dinner. Church is what we call it. And as a part of our gathering, we eat together and it helps model the kind of life that we want everybody to live, to be able to use their table to share the gospel.
Tyler [00:18:04] Another space that we’ve developed in how to reach our community has been this youth football league called the Junior Vikings. My son got involved and then the next year I’m coaching and then we’re getting on the board and now I’m coaching more and we’re seeing over 100 families that need the influence of Jesus in their lives. And some of them know Jesus and some of them don’t. And it’s incredible how God uses a coach to be able to speak into the life and how parents let coaches speak in their life. So we’ve stepped in that spot to model excellent character, to be able to love on each other. And one of the ways that we use our table to share the gospel is by coaching football and cheer.
Tyler [00:18:44] And so my family’s gone all in with it. I’ve got a football player and two cheerleaders. My wife’s a team mom and becoming a cheer coach, and if you asked my wife, she’d say she never would have thought that she was going to be a cheer coach. She didn’t do cheer, but her mom did, her aunt did. She had it in the family. But my kids are well suited for it. And my kids are a big part. We talk about that. We call it we call our family Team Clark and Team Clark is on mission together. And so when we’re out there playing that game, we’re serving Jesus. We talk about serving Jesus where we live, work, learn and play. All four of those places are places that we can bring the gospel influence. All places of those have tables, too. And that’s how we use the table to share the gospel. It’s kind of crazy that being brought back to life would mean that I’d go all in, but I don’t see how else I could live. And so when I talk with other people about what their story looks like in the fight for them to follow Jesus, sometimes that’s a part of helping us develop the who we are and to become all in people.
Tyler [00:19:43] Now, you don’t have to plan a church to be all in with Jesus. You can be a faithful worker at Boeing. You can be a faithful worker making sheet metal, whatever the thing is that you do. We’ve got EMTs, we’ve got glass builders. We got all kinds of different people from all walks of life that learn how to go all in with Jesus. And that’s a big value of ours, is to help people go all in with Jesus. But it starts with turning away and coming back to life from the sin that ensnares.
Luke [00:20:15] I can’t thank you enough for being on the show to talk about your spiritual death, because without it, you couldn’t be brought back to life. Now, here’s a powerful testimonial from our sponsor, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
Narrator [00:20:31] Helping the lost become found. With Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission doesn’t just provide food and shelter. They offer a path out of homelessness, giving men and women a safe place to recover from addiction and start on the path toward a new life.
SUGM Testimonial [00:20:50] I was an alcoholic and drug addict for 49 years. The only time I didn’t drink or do drugs was when I was pregnant. One day I was evicted from my house for an unpaid water bill. It was the first time in my life I was homeless. My family didn’t want anything to do with me. I was being abused heavily and I knew I hit rock bottom. But also I knew God was with me. My ex-husband told me about the Mission, and when I walked through those doors, the women there hugged me and said, “Welcome home.” I am a different woman today because of them. Thank God for the Mission. They saved my life.
Narrator [00:21:31] Even when it seems impossible to see. Hope can be found. Local men and women in our area desperately need a fresh start. And that’s what they find at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. From learning to trust again, to that first hot meal, to a recovery program, and then job training. The Mission’s recovery programs offer counseling, case management, chemical dependency classes, and so much more. To hear more volunteer or donate, visit UGM.org.
Host [00:22:00] Jesus said in the Bible, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live even though they die. And whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” Do you believe this? We are telling these stories of transformation so you can know and understand the power of Jesus in your own life. If you’d like to learn more about Jesus and how He can bring you back to life, visit us at onpurpose.com/whoisjesus. And if you like, Brought Back to Life, please give us a five star rating and a review. You can follow Brought Back to Life on Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, or wherever you’re listening right now. You can also just tell your smart speaker play Brought Back to Life podcast.