by Dale Reeves
Chad Barnett was born and raised in Milford, Ohio, with strong family connections in the area. After graduation from high school, he attended the University of Cincinnati. He moved to the Mason area fourteen years ago. He grew up in a good home that taught respect and responsibility, but one that didn’t have a strong spiritual focus. Consequently, Chad did not grow up attending church services or aligning himself with a particular belief system. His great grandparents were active in a Baptist church, and he has some good memories of the faith they had. But Chad says, “I would label myself as a non-believer.”
Chad has had his share of challenges in life. With three children, ages thirteen, eleven, and nine, Chad and his wife recently went through a divorce after fifteen years of marriage. He says, “We fell into some common relationship pitfalls of two working parents whose focus was on work and our kids, and we were unable to overcome infidelity she brought into our marriage.”
Chad and his ex-wife now share joint custody of the three children. His youngest, Kyle, has Down syndrome, and was born with a heart defect and other challenges. He had heart surgery when he was only six months old, with a very challenging recovery that included over a week on life support after crashing during a procedure. But Chad is very pleased that today Kyle is an active, healthy nine-year-old boy who attends Christ’s Church with him.
Moments That Matter
As Chad adjusts his routine in this post-divorce phase of life, he has reconnected with some old friends, made new ones, and explored some outdoor activities such as kayaking and bike riding. More than anything he says, “As much as possible I deprioritize work after hours so I can spend quality time making memories with my kids and others.” Before attending Christ’s Church, Chad would typically stay at home on Sundays, clean the house, and do laundry. Chad’s ex-wife is a Christ follower who had attended Christ’s Church. During their marital breakup, Chad says, “She shared with me that she was lonely going to church by herself and that she longed for me to go. She had always said that the church was very accepting, and she thought it would fit me. Learning this broke my heart as I never wanted her to feel lonely. I joined her at church the very next Sunday, which was early 2018, and have been a regular attender at the 9:00 am service since that day.”
After attending Christ’s Church for a while, Chad connected with lead pastor Trevor DeVage because he wanted to know where he should begin in his spiritual journey. He met with him in his office for over an hour, seeking some clarity concerning what might be next for him. Chad says, “I resonate with Trevor’s messages each Sunday and find them to be relevant in my life. They allow me to feel I’m leading a better life as I try to live out the messages.” Not too long after that, Chad heard about the discipleship experience known as Rooted, and he decided it was a good place for him to hear from other people concerning their spiritual lives.
Adrian Williams was Chad’s Rooted facilitator. Adrian states, “What I loved the most about Chad during the Rooted experience was his honesty. His straightforwardness was off the charts. He shared with the group that he was new to the whole Christianity thing, but when he spoke, there were things that everyone in the group benefited from. He knew how to question some things without coming across as negative. I loved the diversity and interaction he brought to others who had been believers in Christ for a long time.”
When reflecting on the ten-week Rooted experience, Chad says, “The format with group discussion was nice as I was able to hear other people’s experiences and the messages they connected with. It really helped in my understanding. Everyone was supportive of where I’m at spiritually and never made me feel bad as I talked and questioned in the discussions.” He continues, “I learned that God wants a relationship with me and is trying to communicate with me. This replaced my view of an angry God dictating an impossible life. I’m imperfect but God wants to help me.”
Adrian Williams recalls, “Often in Rooted, we help people ‘unlearn’ some things they grew up believing—what some would call the need to ‘dechurch.’ But during Rooted, Chad wasn’t unlearning, but really learning for the first time.” And Adrian affirms Chad’s ultimate desire with this statement: “Chad wanted to know the truth, and that’s what we all live for!”
When asked what his next steps in his spiritual journey might be, Chad replies, “I can’t say that I’m fully a believer now, but I’m seeking deeper understanding and knowledge. I’m probably my toughest critic, so when I make a commitment it needs to mean something—it can’t be half-hearted. Eventually, I want to be baptized but I want to make sure I’m in a good place and it’s for the right reasons. This would be a major step from where I started. Following through with this step would be shedding my old self and fully immersing myself in him.”
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT).