An unusual road to christ

Mike Kennedy, who played baseball in college and is a baseball fan, is the new pastor at the 21st Street Church of Christ in Clovis. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Darrell Todd Maurina

Clovis’ second-largest Church of Christ congregation has received a new pastor — one from an unusual background.
“I spent 23 years of my life working as an engineer, so ministry is a second career for me,” said Mike Kennedy, preacher at the 21st Street Church of Christ. “My dad was a sergeant in the Air Force and my wife’s dad was as well, so we don’t really have a home.”
Rather than following his parents or in-laws into the military, Kennedy spent two decades of his adult life working as an engineer with Waste Management, eventually receiving a master’s degree in engineering and living in a number of different cities around the United States. That wasn’t the end of his education, however — by 1997, Kennedy said he “wanted a new career, a new direction in life” and returned to school, eventually receiving a second masters degree in Bible and history
The Clovis church is the third congregation Kennedy has served in full-time ministry, having previously served as an associate at Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock and later the Gatesville Church of Christ, both in Texas. Prior to that, Kennedy said he had served 15 years as a Church of Christ deacon.
“Having spent a great portion of my life in a non-ministerial capacity, relating faith to everyday life is an important thing to me,” Kennedy said. “Maybe I can relate to people a little easier.”
Kennedy said he hopes to apply his business background and educational interests to seeking further education on the doctoral level.
“I have long thought about doing a Ph.D. in a field like conflict resolution or family management,” Kennedy said. “I believe that when the church was established, the intent is to be God’s family, a called-out, separated group to have an encouraging effect on one another. Our community is a family, not perhaps naturally by blood, but by the blood of Christ.”
Those family-like ties need to be based on shared Christian commitments, not ethnicity, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he helped begin a Spanish-language service while at the Gatesville Church of Christ, and wants to help make the current Spanish language service at his church better.
“I’m currently studying Spanish because I have an interest in reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community,” he said. “The world is a changing place, and we need to learn new ways to reach out.”
Kennedy said the simple size of his church, which has about 370 attending on a typical Sunday, makes it easier in some ways to do ministry even as it becomes difficult to maintain a close personal relationship among the members.
“The size of the congregation afford us the opportunity to do some things that smaller churches couldn’t do,” Kennedy said. “We are able to reach out, and by our size we have a lot of senior citizens, middle-aged people, younger people, and families with children, and that makes a healthy church.”
While Kennedy wants to continue a focus on strong biblical faith, he also said he wants to become involved in the community.
“A lot of congregations of various groups have been really been responsible for a long time and have seen a reason to be involved in their communities,” Kennedy said. “Many churches of Christ have not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t in the future.”
“Faith is not a Sunday thing, faith is an important part of people’s lives,” he said.