How Things Got Started!
Michael and his wife, Kim, began full-time Christian ministry
in 1979. Michael resigned his position as a Shelby County Deputy Sheriff in Memphis, Tennessee and moved his family
to Tulsa, Oklahoma. While Kim worked for Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association in Tulsa, Michael obtained a Bachelor
of Arts Degree from Oral Roberts University. He double-majored in Christian Education and Biblical Literature.
A member of the National Honor Society, he graduated with high honors and was voted "1983 Outstanding Student
in Christian Education" by the faculty of ORU. Additional educational accomplishments include: Administrative
and Clerical Specialist School, U.S. Naval Air Reserves, New Orleans, LA.; FBI Crime Scene and Fingerprint Training,
Donelson Police Academy, Nashville, TN.; Multiple Staff Church Training Seminar, Charles E. Fuller Institute of
Evangelism and Church Growth, Pasadena, CA.; Personnel and Volunteer Management Training, Christian Management
Institute, Dallas, TX. Michael is a church growth consultant, who specializes in evangelism, discipleship, and
leadership training. He has served in denominational and non-denominational churches in the areas of church growth,
administration, Christian education, and youth ministries.
Michael has developed and/or coordinated area-wide Christian seminars, concerts, retreats, and conferences in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama; in addition, he was the organizer of the Tennessee Valley Area-Wide March For Jesus, one of the top-ten largest marches (out of 625 cities per capita) in the United States. He is the founder/executive director of CEDAR, Inc. (Christian Educational Development And Research, founded in 1986), a non-profit educational/research organization. He has served on the executive committees for The Coming Together On Common Ground Celebrations, CSR/Mid-South Coalition For Prayer and Revival, Feed the Children Campaign, and the Tony Evans Crusade.
He presently serves on the board of directors of SAMM (Shoals Association of Ministers/Musicians), a non-profit organization that serves the needs of people who aspire or are presently serving in various aspects of music ministry. Michael and Kim are the originators of The Powerlife Project, a major impact strategy for the evangelization of youth and young adults in the Shoals. The Powelife Project produced Powerlife '99 (Christian music festival), which put together over 250 volunteers (representing 14 local churches) for a two-day, evangelistic event that harvested 60 young people who decided to follow Christ. At present Mike and Kim are planting a new ministry in the Shoals known as Shoals New Life, a "cell church" dedicated to the building of meaningful relationships, evangelism, and discipleship. Michael and his wife, Kim, have three children and one grandchild.
A New Testimony!
"You gave up your secular career to follow me. Now I want you to give up your religious career as well." These words from the Lord changed Kim and my course in history, something that began taking shape in June 1998. At that time Kim and I were given a wonderful opportunity to travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado for a Christian conference at New Life Church where Ted Haggard is the senior pastor. Our traveling companions included Jim Bevis, Hillard and Charlotte Matthews. We all had a wonderful experience and were impacted in our lives. Going to this conference represented a "hallmark experience" in my life.
Prior to our going, I had somehow come to the conclusion that my many years in Christian ministry yielded very little success. I was quite frustrated and tired of thinking and talking about Spirit-empowered ministry; I truly needed to see action! I had spent years in study and research at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I wanted to be "prepared" to carry out Christ's Great Commission, and I wanted to work as a team player, partnering with others who shared this same passion. I left ORU with great hope and expectation only to have much of my ministry aspirations burned up in the fires of competitive denominationalism, religious power struggles, and Christian rhetoric. Several years later, the "trappings" of traditional American church with all of its talk and no action left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Now don't get me wrong, Kim and I did find Christians in churches who really "walked what they talked;" unfortunately, this was more of an exception to the rule.
I remember walking into New Life Church in Colorado Springs with a feeling of loneliness, afraid of the future. I remember thinking, "Why am I here? The things we will hear will be more of the same things that I have heard for years." I didn't want to hear any more testimonies of a small pocket of successful ministries that are now writing book on the "secrets of revival." Kim and I wanted a new testimony of our own as to God's leading in our lives. "Had all these years of ministry taken us down a road of unfulfilled dreams and painful circumstances?" I thought. Then something happened to me that changed the course of our lives. One morning at the conference came the distinct voice of the Holy Spirit into my heart. "What you see and hear at this conference is all true. The things that you have learned in the past number of years are all true, especially concerning church growth, leadership, and unity within the Body of Christ. You are not crazy, misguided, or stupid as immature Christians have made you feel. Your passions and desires for ministry are quite valid." At that point the whole conference took on deeper meaning for Kim and me. We returned from Colorado with fresh fires of revelation and passion burning within our souls. Little did we know what God was now going to ask of us.
Over the course of the next couple of years God began transforming our lives. It was though a season in our life was coming to an end; a new one was about to be unveiled. Our desire to completely follow Christ and His example was paramount in our minds. We knew that the "Second Coming of Christ" was upon the horizon, and we wanted to completely "be about the Father's business" no matter what it took! Then God told us what it would take. I'll never forget His words. "You gave up your secular career to follow me. Now I want you to give up your religious career as well. I want your house and your paycheck!" Kim and I were blown-away at His request; after all, we had been in full-time, Christian ministry for years. Why did we have to give up these benefits afforded to ministers? I truly struggled with this for some time.
Slowly it became apparent what the Lord was asking. Kim and I were unaware that many years in ministry had left us weary. We had fallen into "maintenance religion" the kind that simply survives and not grows. We had allowed a "religious career" with all of its resources become our source of life. We had also fallen into "spiritual lethargy." We needed revival in our hearts. The Lord knew what it would take to set us free and revive our hearts once again. We knew that obedience to His calling was the best and only thing for us to do. So we did it!
In December of 1999 we resigned our position at a church here in Florence, and set our sails for God's divine purposes for our lives. Our longings to be involved in evangelism and discipleship in the community developed into the founding of a new ministry work in Florence. Kim and I launched Shoals New Life, a cell-based ministry reflecting principles found in "cell churches," the fastest growing, most explosive evangelistic churches in the world today. Our ministry design is modeled after the 1st Century, New Testament Church (Acts 2:42-47) - God's original design for evangelism, discipleship, and pastoral care. Each week small groups of people (6-12 members in a cell) gather together in homes to develop meaningful relationships and share the gospel with people who do not know Jesus. Each cell serves as a dynamic, "Koinonia" environment where people actually feel God's love, experience new life in Christ, and encounter the awesome power of the Holy Spirit! To maximize our cell-based ministry, people gather together in cells for nurture and pastoral care; then once a week, all cells corporately gather together for a time of celebration, to give praise and worship to God our Creator and Heavenly Father. Our main mission is Christ's Great Commission, to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
We want to impact the Shoals for Christ! This will happen only when Christians move beyond "self-interest" into synergism - the advancement of the Kingdom of God through the true essence of the Body of Christ. We have decided to join together in celebration on Sunday mornings with another new work in the Shoals known as New Song, founded by Cecil and Jane Denton. New Song meets in the newly acquired facilities of CSR Ministries located on Hatch Blvd. in Sheffield. What a testimony! Two new ministries separated by the Tennessee River coming together on common ground.
Kim and I now have a new testimony, one that is fresh and alive in Christ Jesus! God is doing a deep work in our lives. Our marriage is stronger than it ever has been. We spend more quality time together. Our kids are growing up and maturing. Our relationship with God is growing in leaps and bounds!
This new millennium is seeing the birth of new ministry works and new powerful testimonies, all of which we want to be part of. We pray that God will breathe new life into the heart of the Shoals, and let it begin in me. Perhaps this could be your prayer as well.