From time-to-time we profile leaders in Xenos, and this time we highlight elder candidate Brian Runk.
For the last seven years Brian has served as the director of the Junior High ministry, but also works as an adult home church coach and is also moving into the role of an adult sphere leader. He says his time working with middle-schoolers has been both a huge challenge but also a great joy. Brian says, “God has proven his greatness to me by seeing students I never thought would change, become completely transformed and others-centered.”
Brian himself came to Christ as a young person. “As a kid I was always fascinated with understanding how the world worked, and wondered about the Creator.” He didn’t grow up going to church, but had a God-fearing mother. Brian says he was a troubled and rebellious teen but says, looking back, it was mostly because he didn’t know why his life mattered and what his purpose was. “I was at rock bottom when I came to my first Bible study in high school. I had a lot of baggage, and I felt that church culture wouldn't be able to change me, so I was really cynical. I was amazed at the depth of teaching and people’s authenticity.” He says he quickly surrendered to the cross and was amazed that Christ's death was sufficient to bring him into security with God forever.
Since then, Brian says he quickly became a convinced Christian and wanted to let everyone know about Jesus. In fact he says God has blessed him with a gift of evangelism, and he loves sharing the good news with others. He says he’s seen many people come to Christ (including Xenos elders James Rochford and Chris Hearty), but really enjoys that 20 years later God is still teaching him. “Even though I have lots of answers to give people I still make mistakes, and realize I need God's love to be in me and moving through each and every time, and without that nothing can be accomplished.”
As for his involvement at Xenos he says he sees the emphasis on lay leadership as a two-edged sword: “It's so amazing that we equip and mobilize everyday believers to become teachers and pastors in their own right, but it can also be a weakness because people make mistakes. We need to be a church that is humble and will admit mistakes but at the same time continue to have high standards and improved equipping for volunteer leaders.”
Brian met his wife Amanda playing basketball on campus with some friends. He says she got hurt and he gave her a hard time about stepping out of the game, but he says it turns out she broke her foot. He asked her out and she said yes. “I guess my punishment for being a jerk was having to give her piggy back rides on our date nights that summer.”
They’ve been married for 10 years and have three kids. At one point all three were under the age of three and he says it was a crazy time. But he says God put great friends in their lives, and it became one of the best times of his life. He encourages parents with young kids to not ignore their own friendships. “It’s when people often can't find the time for relationships, but I think it's a time when we need it the most.”
In his spare time Brian and his family enjoy camping even if it’s close to home—he says it’s great quality time. He loves playing board games and strategy games but admits, “I’m probably way too competitive and I probably think I’m better that what I actually am.” He likes to learn how to fix and build things at his house, working from how-to videos.
And he says his wife converted him to the joy of thrift store shopping. “Now we enjoy doing that together even on our date nights!”
As for future plans Brian plans to start Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s seminary program at Xenos next year. He sees it as a great way to strengthen him as he moves into adult ministry leadership.
As a nominee for the position of elder, Brian is described as a tested leader with exceptional character and ministry, steadfast in his service to others. He’s known as someone who balances standing up for what he believes while also working in cooperation with others. He is eager to work with people from all kinds of backgrounds and is known for caring deeply about people. In the fall the Xenos Servant Team will vote on his confirmation as an elder.