In 2009, I moved from Colorado to start a new church in Kansas City Missouri. We didn’t know one person, had little money, yet faith in a Big God.
As you can imagine there were many days of uncertainty and times, I wanted to give up. While spiraling into a state of depression and confusion over the how’s and why’s of starting a church, someone came into my life. This someone was not a familiar face, and to this day, I’ve never met the man.
Call it Divine Providence, luck, or good timing… I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a church leaders conference. I’d hope this conference would give me some inspiration and direction into the future of our church. I can’t explain, or describe, what this one hour talk did inside of me, but I’ve never recovered.
A pastor named Dave Browning from Christ the King Church in Seattle made an impact on me that will last the rest of my days. It wasn’t his speaking style or charisma that drew me. It wasn’t how famous he was in Christian circles, or personality that caught my eye, he wasn’t a known commodity in church world.
Browning’s humility, and how he understood the realities of God, and the church are what grabbed me. He did ministry in a way that refused to buy into the hype, glitz, and glamour of many American churches today.
Dave gave pastors permission to be ordinary. He believed love and grace were the keys for true impact and a fruitful ministry. Dave wasn’t scared to preach hard truths from the Bible. Dave knew giant facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and big budgets were unnecessary for reaching people with the gospel.
Dave believed the heart and essence of life and ministry was love for God and loving people. And ministry was never meant to be complicated and cluttered. Keep the main thing, the main thing. He would often say, keep the main King, the main King (Jesus that is)..
My consternation in the early years of starting a new church revolved around expectations. Not to mention the insecurities of being a young pastor in an unfamiliar city. You needed a nice building, lots of money, fancy equipment, people, and good press in the community. If you could preach like Spurgeon, understand culture like Keller, and lead like Stanley, that would help too.
Yet, what I realized, and what Dave helped me see, was more is not better, hype does not equal effectiveness, and humility, love, and being the best version of you is the entire thing.
Dave Browning saved my life that day.
He had written a couple books, which I’ve since purchased, and offered a ton of helpful teaching on leadership, which I’ve gained much from over the years.
Fast forward a couple years. I looked up Dave to see how he was doing. What I saw was devastating. He had an inoperable brain tumor. Dave died at 52, in 2016.
My heart and prayers go out to his family and church. The lives he touched with the grace of Jesus are immeasurable.
Dave didn’t seem to care about the accolades and limelight that ministry can bring. Whenever you have a platform or stage the temptations of being something, or believing your something, are hard to fight. Especially when Dave had planted 50 congregations around the world in his short time on earth. People want to know the secret sauce.
Well the secret sauce Dave believed in his bones were simple. Love God, love your neighbor, and show the grace and love you’ve been given from Jesus. Do that and you’ll experience true life and success.
When I reflect on that day in 2009, and the impact of a man I never met. I found comfort.
Comfort that impact and effectiveness is not always big and bright and obvious. You never know how you’re impacting the lives of those around you, and for most of us mortals, it’s only a handful of lives if we’re lucky.
When we’re willing to be present to God and people and share what we’re learning along the way. You never know. Your YouTube video might change the life of a young pastor, dreamer, mom, dad, or a kid who wants to make a difference in their world, somehow, and someway.
Thanks, Dave. I’m eternally grateful.