A church plant differs from an established church in many ways.

Marlan Mincks

Director of Starting

  • Church planting & multiplication

A new church offers a way that you get to know people well. This beginning allows you to have a unique closeness with unbelievers. As you build something from nothing, it forces you to dive deep into relationships and personal discipleship. I had that opportunity with one such person at our Iron Ridge Church. His name was DJ Scholtes. I got to walk beside him almost every day and got to disciple him through many of life’s trials and struggles. This recent Facebook post to our church tells the story:

I knew a young man named DJ Scholtes. My perspective was unique since I was his pastor and also a mentor to him. I knew DJ, before he knew Jesus. Some of our first conversations were about faith and what it meant to be a “Christian”. In my relationship with DJ, he was able to examine how he looked at things both spiritually and humanly. I was able to give him things to think about that challenged his viewpoint.

DJ was intelligent. He always surprised me with his depth of knowledge and his willingness to learn new things. He was not “set in his ways” but rather quite able to examine his own thoughts and motives.

His views originated from a traditional church mindset, tempered with his new involvement at our church while he was in college. Suffice to say, he carried the label of faith, rather than a deep relationship with his Lord. This type of faith is typical in our world today and is often mixed with components from other faiths and mystical practices.

One day I said to DJ. “You don’t know what you believe. You change like the wind, and you make God fit you, and He is not doing that.”

Over the next few years, I saw DJ grow. He not only grew in knowledge of his faith but also in his ability to apply it and walk in faith. This capacity was unparalleled in our circle of friends. He moved from someone was not allowed speak in a Sunday service to someone we trusted thoroughly.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Many people have knowledge. But they don’t learn how to apply it. Our egos and the need to be acknowledged keeps us from learning. To grow we must acknowledge we have much to learn. DJ often acknowledged that he didn’t know something and then was able to not only hear and learn, but to then immediately apply it. Gaining both knowledge then wisdom.

DJ was a disciple, and that gave me the opportunity to teach him the things of Christ. In my time as a pastor, I have never seen anyone change so much, so fast and so completely. His discipleship caused him to give up the things of the world and totally devote himself to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Many people watched DJ on stage at church leading worship. He was talented, he could sing and play guitar. He had a welcoming personality and let’s be honest. Everyone liked him. While many people appreciated what he did as a worship leader, they couldn’t really put their finger on what it was that made him so appealing on stage. It was not his talent or his kind demeanor. It was not DJ himself but what the spirit of God did through him. He worshiped in “Spirit and truth” as John 4:23-24 says: But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

You might miss the fact that God worked through DJ and instead place your worship on DJ. But my brother would be disappointed in you if you did that. In his wisdom he knew that he was not worthy of the gift of salvation that God gave him. He never looked at himself as deserving grace, but only as a sinner who was redeemed by Christ. He was humble not because he was great. But because God is great!

In his suffering with cancer in the last months he trusted that God had a plan and if God’s plan was for him to die at 33, then so be it. He would not only accept it but welcome it. DJ had the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. A faith that caused them to walk in the fire. A faith that said “O king, God will save us. But even if he doesn’t, we will not bow down to you.”

Through all the difficult years of cancer and life he lived out what Paul said in Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” To press toward the mark is to faithfully continue the “straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life” with our Savior and our Father in Heaven.

Now here is the hard truth. So many of us loved DJ. He impacted our lives in so many ways. His funeral showed the widespread impact that he had on so many people.

However, this life is not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about DJ. It is about Jesus. Anything good you saw in DJ was only because of Christ. I know DJ believes this. That’s right. He STILL believes this.

Nicholas Ludwig, Count Von Zinzendorf in talking to missionaries and pastors said; your calling is to “Preach the Gospel, die, and be forgotten.” My challenge to you is to bring young people close. Disciple them, let them lead and see what God does with them.

Marlan Mincks, Director of Starting

Director of Starting

Additional articles by Marlan Mincks