After serving in the local church for our entire adult lives, God is doing something new in us. There are more amazing details than I can go into in a brief blog post, but I will try to capture the journey that Jenifer and I have been on in a few broad strokes.
For the past few years, God has placed a calling on our lives to equip and serve families in a more far-reaching way. Opportunities to teach, write, and coach have been falling in our laps. In particular, the burden of equipping parents to help their kids navigate their sexuality has weighed heavy on our hearts.
Several years ago, I heard a quote that we have visited over and over again: "Find that thing that God has called you to do, that if you don't do it, the body of Christ will suffer." While we have loved our time serving in the church (and we feel that God has used us for His glory), I feel that there are plenty of guys in ministry who can do my job as good as or even better than me. In contrast, we don't see hardly anyone stepping up to significantly address the issues our kids are facing as they encounter the culture. See more details on that below.
So what's the big news for Barrett and Jenifer?
Here's the bottom line: I have resigned from my position as the Minister to Young Marrieds and Families at Johnson Ferry, effective October 31. From that day forth, we will devote ourselves full-time to the ministry of I.N.F.O. for Families.
As we launch I.N.F.O. as a non-profit ministry (and our new full-time jobs), people have asked the simple question: “What will you do?” Here’s a summary of the calling that God has placed on us.
I.N.F.O. for Families was originally designed as a blog for regular people from Imperfect & Normal Families Only (get it?) who are striving to discover God's best in a culture that sometimes works against us. While none of our families are perfect, we serve a God who is. And He is willing to lead us if we will simply look to Him and His Word for direction. Our goal is to help families to do that.
We are launching I.N.F.O. with three key initiatives in mind.
*Navigating a Hyper-sexualized Culture – Equipping churches, schools and families with the information and tools they need to help the next generation make wise choices regarding their God-given sexuality. (God has showed Jenifer and me that there is a significant void in the faith community in this area. We feel called to step into the void.)
*Preparing for Marriage – Doing pre-marital counseling and leading workshops to help engaged couples get started on the right foundation.
*Building Strong Families – Helping create a culture of marriage and family health through conferences, resource development, and personal coaching.
What we will do to focus on these three initiatives.
We will SPEAK at churches and schools, offering challenging and relevant help for the marriage and parenting issues common to our families. We feel blessed that our calendar is already filling up with opportunities to serve the church and even public school PTO groups.
We will RESOURCE churches, creating practical tools to meet a variety of needs. In addition to The Talks, the book we released in early 2014, the I.N.F.O. blog has an archive of more than 300 posts with more than 40,000 monthly views. In the near future, we plan to film video resources for small groups, create audio discipleship tools for families to use on the go, and publish a few more books that we have in the works.
We will COACH families, offering pastoral counseling for couples and individuals. We plan to hang a shingle up in north Atlanta, but technology is making it easier to coach people from just about anywhere.
Our great big God-sized vision.
With regard to the “Navigating a Hyper-sexualized Culture” initiative, a good friend encouraged us to dream big. He said, “Since no ministry/organization is effectively addressing that topic, you should aim to become the 'Dave Ramsey' of that issue.” While it is certainly beyond my scope of comprehension, that is the mission that God has placed on our hearts. Our calling is to develop a ministry platform that can significantly shift the culture of our kids’ generation…for the strength of their future marriages and, more importantly, for the sake of the gospel.
What's going to happen in the immediate future?
As we transition away from the local church this Fall, we will be trusting in God to help us launch this new endeavor.
*A new and improved infoforfamilies.com is in the works. It will have an improved interface, more resources, some teaching videos, a speaking schedule, and full details about the scope of our ministry.
*We are looking to fill up our speaking calendar in 2015. If we can serve your church, school, or group in any way, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. A full list of potential "topics" that we teach will soon be available on the new website.
*I love to coach people toward Christ-focused solutions. Starting in November, my desire is to do pastoral counseling a few days a week. If I can come alongside your family (or a family you know) with honest-to-goodness Christian counseling, please reach out to me.
*We are trusting God to raise up our support. While we will have some sources of revenue as the ministry develops (speaking, counseling, etc.), we know that we will be dependent upon financial partners in the early years. The next few months will be spent building and shepherding that team. (Because we have spent the past 25 years pastoring others, our desire is to "shepherd" and minister to all those who invest in I.N.F.O.)
*Are we planning to move anytime soon? No, we don’t currently have any plans to move back to Texas. Maybe one day, but not in the immediate future. We have a grandson here! And a granddaughter on the way! Why would we move?
This is a whole new world for Jenifer and me. For our kids, as well. We have served in the local church for our entire married lives so this is strange but wonderful new territory. For several years we have been praying about taking this "leap of faith." We can't believe the time has finally come.
As we pursue Christ in this new endeavor, we value your prayers, support, and encouragement more than you will ever know. We also value you helping us to spread the word about I.N.F.O. for Families. If God has somehow worked in your life through our humble ministry and you know of opportunities where He might use us in the future, we would appreciate you being our ambassador.
We are trusting in God for amazing things and amazing days ahead!
Grace and Peace,
Barrett and Jenifer Johnson