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By Senior Pastor Martin Schlomer and Nate Champneys
This Sunday is a very important day in the life of Elim EFC. By now, everyone has heard that we are candidating Nate Champneys for the position of Associate Pastor. This full-time position will specialize in leading the Worship Arts and Children’s Ministries. While we have been discussing this position for more than three months, people continue to ask great questions. On Tuesday, a member asked some general questions regarding Nate’s background and training. In an effort to do our best at getting information out to the congregation, this edition of the Last Word is dedicated to allowing Nate to answer these specific questions. In addition, Nate’s resume will be posted on the Elim’s website.
1) Are you in complete agreement with Elim’s doctrinal statement? If not, are there any areas of reservation? I am in complete agreement. I started attending Elim when I was 16 years old. I learned a lot of my basic doctrine from Elim’s youth ministry program. I then attended New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI), and their doctrinal statement is very similar to the Evangelical Free Church doctrinal statement.
2) How did you come to faith in Christ and why do you want to serve in full-time ministry? God captured my heart at a very young age. I was just 6 when I understood my need for Him and made the decision to trust Jesus to forgive my sin. My dad prayed with me every night when I was young and on a particular night he and I had a very important conversation. He explained to me the problem of sin, who Jesus was, and how He died to pay for my sin. The Gospel is simple, and at 6, I fully understood it. Since that moment I always wanted to be in ministry.
If you look at my drawings as a child, it was of airplanes, but on the side of every airplane was the name “Mission Aviation Fellowship.” I always dreamed about being a missionary pilot. As I grew into a teen I thought I might pursue youth ministry. Since I wasn’t sure, Brian Sharpe recommended I go to NTBI.
I graduated NTBI in 2006, returned home to Washington and started serving at Elim. At NTBI I was surrounded by people who were passionate about the Gospel, yet this was in stark contrast to much of the American church. Because of this, I graduated NTBI with a very negative view of the Church. However, over the next five years at Elim, God moved in my heart and gave me a desire to serve His Church. He developed my gifts with worship and youth ministry and my heart for His Church, but as a family we were not yet ready to be in full-time ministry. God used circumstances with my career in insurance to work in the hearts of both my wife and I to bring us into full-time ministry. It has been a long road, but both Beck and I can see how God prepared us for ministry. We both have a desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the Church and the un-churched.
3) In your walk with God, what do you do to maintain spiritual vitality and health? As far as an official “quiet time,” I probably average four to five times a week of focused time with God. In addition there are other times during the week when, as I plan my sets, I have some of my most meaningful times with God. Worship is a safe and rejuvenating place for me.
During my quiet times I usually go to the park or just park my car somewhere. Because of my ADD, I have a hard time staying focused if I am anywhere near distractions. I have found my car to be the best place to focus. I also spend time with God after everyone is in bed so the distractions are minimal. Lastly, I listen to a lot of sermons. I have never been a big reader and learn a lot more from the spoken word. I listen to Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, and Greg Kockl, to name a few.
4) Where did you receive your formal ministry training? Did your education provide specific training in the ministry areas of worship and children? Do you have any additional experience that would qualify you for the potential ministry responsibilities at Elim? I have an Associate of Arts degree from Pierce College and an Associate of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from New Tribes Bible Institute. These degrees are not specific to worship and children. However, my biblical training gave me a good foundation in theology and hermeneutical study of the Scripture.
Regarding preparations for leading children’s ministry, most of my “education and training” has been hands-on. I was in AWANA from kindergarten to sixth grade. AWANA taught me the discipline of memorizing Scripture. Starting when I was 11, every summer my dad took me on a mission trip to Utah to do street evangelism to Mormons. This pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped establish an understanding of my own faith. When I was in junior high I attended Child Evangelism Fellowship’s “Christian Youth in Action” camp and learned how to teach 5-Day Clubs, which I continued to do throughout high school.
While serving in Munster I was the primary creator/ instigator of our new children’s church ministry that is just about to kick off. I saw the need for children’s ministry during the sermon and started meeting with other churches’ children’s leaders to come up with the foundation for this ministry. I then handed off my “brainchild” to the ministry leaders who are now running with it.
Regarding preparations for leading worship ministry, I started leading worship in high school with the youth band at Elim. Brian Sharpe fostered that gift throughout high school and had me lead worship for youth group. As I grew into an adult I continued to grow this gift. I started leading more often for church services and started leading the junior high program. When “The Gathering” service started at Elim, I was a primary leader.
My point in all of this is not to brag about myself but to help you understand that although I have only held a position in full-time ministry for one and a half years, I have been in ministry my whole life. Proverbs 16:9 says, “a man plans his course but Lord establishes his steps.” I look back at my life and I see that as I have sought Him, he has been preparing me to lead His Church.
5) Can you organize and lead choirs, bands, and small music groups? My primary experience is in developing and leading worship teams and developing musicians.
6) What experience do you have in training worship ministry staff and children’s ministry staff? As a worship leader, there are a lot of opportunities to train volunteers in music and worship. My first such experience was at Elim. I started working with some junior high students and teaching them how to play worship music. Those students are still leading today.
In the children’s area of ministry, my experience has focused on recruiting and training junior high leadership.
7) After you returned from New Tribes Bible Institute, in what ministry areas did you serve at Elim? I served as a worship leader and as a junior high youth leader. When the planning team was put together for “The Gathering” service, I served on this team and was also in charge of planning and leading worship. I have also preached and been involved with community group and men’s ministry.
8) In your current ministry position, what are your responsibilities? When I was hired at Munster Church, they had never had a full-time worship leader before. They had no idea what my position would turn into. My primary job is to plan and lead services, but because I am gifted technologically I have also been in charge of all video projection, sound, and technology. I replaced the entire sound system, the phone system, and church network.
My secondary role is to lead the junior high program and raise up and train junior high leaders. When I got to Munster, we had about five students total and usually three would show up. After seven months, I started making some strategic changes. We went from five total students to 25 total students.
9) Why are you interested in leaving after one year? I wouldn’t say that I am “interested in leaving” as that implies that I sought out leaving. When Becky and I left Washington three years ago, we imagined that we would come back after three years or so. We never planned on staying in Chicago. However, when God called us to leave American Income Life Insurance Company and pursue ministry we realized that our original timetable might not be realistic, and I came to the realization that we might never return to Washington.
When Elim decided to create this position, I never imagined being considered. I don’t think that my wife and I would consider leaving Munster Church under any other circumstance than this. We have always considered Elim to be our “home church.” Even in conversations with people in Indiana, we referred to Elim as our “home church.” I am absolutely blessed to have served at Munster and harbor no ill will against them. They too are happy to have served with me and wish me the best in my ministry.
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