Tony was born and raised in Hartford City, Indiana. He’s been the senior pastor at Lifehouse Church in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area for the past five years. As their lead follower of Christ, he’s been preaching Jesus and helping people discover and embrace their God-given purpose and potential.
He has an associate degree in broadcasting from Vincennes University and a bachelor’s in business marketing from Ball State University. He also obtained a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. Tony and his wife, Melissa, have three children: Magdalene, 13, Canaan, 11, and Jael, 6.
In his spare time, you can find Tony cheering on the Miami Dolphins or camping and fishing with his family. He prefers camping over luxury hotels, smoothies over coffee, and gets excited about winters more than summers—so bring on the Michigan winters!
What will your first year at 2|42 look like?
Obviously there will be many opportunities and adventures we will take in the first year, but the first 12 months will involve a lot of listening and a lot of learning. I think one of the most important things I can do in my first 12 months is to engross myself in the culture and the DNA of 2|42. In order to lead, I must know who and what I am leading.
What excites you and what scares you about this opportunity at 2|42?
The most exciting thing about this opportunity is the chance I have to collaborate with the amazing team at 2|42 and have such a significant impact together. The impact we will have for Jesus will be far greater together than anything I could ever do alone. The thing that scares me about this opportunity is the same thing that should always scare a leader and that is the weight and significance of the leadership role. There are great expectations for anyone who leads other people and in the church, the stakes are high. As a leader, you always fear failing those that you lead whether that is one person, a hundred people, or 10,000 people. However, it is that same fear that compels a Christian leader to lean heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit and motivates him/her to strive for excellence in all things.
Coming from a Methodist background, do you anticipate theological challenges being at 2|42?
I don’t. Throughout the process of discerning with the 2|42 search team we had a lot of conversations around theological alignment. The important and necessary things of our faith are held in unity and in non-essential elements of the faith, diversity of opinion can be a good and healthy part of a church as long as theological alignment is there.
What do you believe the primary role is for 2|42’s Senior Pastor?
I believe my primary role is to equip and empower the people of 2|42 to be the church where they live, work, and play. Whether through relevant and engaging messages, leading the staff, developing leaders, or casting vision, everything points to releasing the people of the church to take the message and love of Jesus into the world.
How do you think churches should go about discipling their people when it comes to topics like sexuality, politics, and racial tension?
Jesus came with grace and truth and we are called, as the Body of Christ, to do the same. If we are full of grace without truth we practice enablement. If we are full of truth without grace we are being judgmental and calling it religion. The role of the follower of Jesus is to both stand firm on truth and engage with one another with grace. The church must help everyone discover how to embrace the position of Jesus, regardless of where they stand. In order to do that, the church must embody that approach and lead by example, not shying away from the difficult topics and truths of Scripture, but doing so in a way that is bathed in the love and grace of Jesus.