I'm happy that Dave Johnson will be joining us this Sunday. Dave pastors Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, MN. Even though I just met Dave a few months ago we "go way back". Let me explain.
Back in the 70's I came to faith in an upbeat contemporary church in Minneapolis. It grew and grew but then fell apart when the lead pastor was exposed in adultery. The church didn't handle it well. It got ugly and the majority of the people left the church...hundreds. (I learned many lessons on how NOT to do church through that era).
I heard that a lot of the people were ending up in a small church in North Minneapolis called Church of the Open Door. Some young guy had just taken it over...was preaching the Bible with clarity and life...and lives were being changed. His name was Dave Johnson. He seemed to have a heart for not just preaching the Bible but seeing the Bible impact lives for good...especially healing emotional wounds.
I lived in South Minneapolis so I never visited the church...just heard the reports...and they were good. C.O.D. kept growing. They had to move out of their church building into the old Robbinsdale High School where they continued to grow...up to 5000 people at one point. Dave published a timely book with one of his co-pastors...The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. I personally found it very helpful having seen my share of pastoral craziness...pastors wielding way too much control in their churches and hurting hundreds in the process.
I finally made it up to see Dave preach but he was on vacation and got a guest speaker. It took a few more years before I actually saw him speak. But I wasn't disappointed when I did. He was full of passion. He was sincere. And he was real. He had a bookstore full of his teachings on cassette. I picked up two series that were profound...The Pain of Porneia...a look at how mishandling sex has hurt so many...and Women in Ministry...Dave's teaching on 1 Timothy and why he felt women should have equal right to ministry. Both teachings had a powerful impact on me...Dave's word was probably what opened me up to my current belief in women in ministry.
Finally, I heard that Dave did a teaching on the Beatitudes that changed his church. He converted some of that teaching into a book called Joy Comes in the Mourning. It was the best teaching on the Beatitudes I had ever read...very practical. It really helped me to get a picture of what it means for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven. I told Dave recently the impact the book had on me and he was shocked because he wasn't happy with the book and it never sold well. I guess the book was written just for me because I really liked it!
So now, 30 years after watching Dave from a far, I met him at a conference and we struck up a friendship, hence his visiting Cedarbrook on Sunday. I have a ton of respect for anyone who commits themselves to pastor their church for 30 years, let alone keeps it together and even manages to grow it. Since Cedarbrook is still young (eight years) I have a lot to learn from Dave.
I hope you'll join us on Sunday and invite a friend to hear Dave. He gave me a sneak preview of his message. It will start in Colossians...travel around the Bible (as is his style) and encourage us about the hope of the gospel...that is, what makes it good news for you and me today.