Laying Hands on Chris Mitchell
On Sunday: June 27th we had the privilege of laying hands on Chris Mitchell as a pastor. We are super excited to have Chris join the plurality of pastors here at Mountain View. He has been a wonderful shepherd within our body for a number of years and we are thrilled to see him transitioning into the pastor role. He will function as a non-vocational pastor and will spend much of his time on missions.
If you don’t know Chris and Kelsey Mitchell (and their precious three kiddos) – 1. Can we highly recommend getting to know them? 2. Read this letter (from Chris) to learn more about their family and the work God has been doing.
Church Family of Mountain View Community Church,
The pastoral team at MVCC recently received some wise input that the body should know who their leaders are, especially as new elders are brought on the team. So, while I would much prefer to do this in person, this is a brief synopsis of my life and how the Lord has brought me to this position.
I grew up mostly in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a conservative Presbyterian church. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t consider Jesus a close and personal Savior to me. My mom has always been a believer and certainly played a major impact in laying a Christ-centered foundation in my life. I am the 2nd oldest of 6 kids. My parents are divorced now (when I was 22) and both remarried. My father is a trauma surgeon and was my introduction to the world of medicine.
Even as a young kid, I would take initiative myself to read my Bible and even talk to my friends about Jesus, because I truly believed Jesus wanted me to, and I wanted to know Him more. Whenever people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would say “doctor, pastor, or missionary”. I was the president of my high-school’s Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s chapter, went to Costa Rica as a high-school junior on a mission trip to perform Gospel dramas (way out of my comfort zone), and was part of a small-group Bible-study for 4 years in high-school led by a lawyer from my church. However, I mostly did these things because I was “supposed to” (I’ve always been a rule follower and often need to be reminded that the love of Christ is free to me by grace alone through faith alone… I cannot earn His love!) or because they were fun. I had zero insight into how God had saved me into a larger community or to a larger mission outside of myself.
I was a lone-ranger Christian—I knew God loved me and Jesus died for me and that I wanted to make good choices for Him… however, things like church, truly caring for people and their need for Jesus, and my role as a necessary body part in God’s community were negotiable or extras for Christians who needed or liked stuff like that. This ultimately caused me to be very ineffective and stagnant when I went away to college—my built-in support network was no longer accessible to me. God and I were always “good” and so I never really involved myself seriously in a church for much of college or medical school. Side note, I went to the University of Oklahoma, played tennis there for 4 seasons, was a zoology major, studied in Paris for a summer, almost minored in French (3 hours short but don’t ask me to speak it), decided to go to medical school (also at OU… Boomer Sooner!) and then become a general surgeon. I met my wife (Kelsey) when I was a surgical intern in Dallas. She had grown up in Stillwater, OK and went to Oklahoma State University which is in Stillwater… we are a house-divided when it comes to college football! Side-note to the side-note: Despite her Stillwater roots, Kelsey is the absolute coolest woman! She loves Jesus passionately, is an exceptional mother, and I highly recommend you get to know her… she just makes life better!
Kelsey and I were married in October 2009 and started to attend The Village Church in Dallas when God began to stir in our hearts the need to be actually involved in a local church. This didn’t amount to much initially, but the seeds were sown that we needed the church (eventually God would show us the church needed us too—so humbling that the sovereign God of the universe has unique roles for each of us to play in His church community). After 5 years of surgical residency in Dallas and a very isolated quick year in Fresno for my Trauma/Critical Care fellowship, we arrived in Fort Collins for my first real job. We knew nobody in town, connected with Mountain View somewhat randomly (other than that theological convictions aligned), and dove in. We were quickly involved in life group, then leading a life group for 4.5 years, then we were leaders in the college ministry for 2.5 years. During this time in Fort Collins we’ve had 3 children (Eli will be 7 in July, Ella 5, and Cooper 3). Parenting is both utterly awesome and rewarding yet incredibly difficult and exhausting! There is nothing quite so humbling as watching your kids exhibit the same sin patterns you recognize in yourself. Kelsey and I’s current parenting strategy: Focus on Kingdom building, not daily survival. As sweet as it is to lay our heads down on the pillow each night after “surviving” another day, there is significant Kingdom work to be done in all of the ordinary, mundane teaching moments each day.
I was part of the Pastor’s and Leaders Institute (PLI) class of 2017, with zero intentions of becoming a pastor when I signed up for it. It was the first time I had more formally “studied” Christianity. I have always been a good student and love learning… so this 2.5 years was pretty awesome for me. I grew a ton in character, solidified a lot of doctrine, and developed a heart for the people at MVCC. Out of PLI and my few years of ministry, I feel my spiritual gifts are discernment, giving, exhortation, wisdom, and pastoring. I scored highest on shepherding/teaching on APEST (Apostolic/Prophetic/Evangelist/Shepherd/Teaching) and have more of a guardian/nurturer voice than ccreative/pioneer voice. My doctrine aligns with MVCC’s statement of faith and Biblical Distinctives.
In the middle of PLI, I ended up cutting back my hours at the hospital to honor my family and ministry commitments. In 2018, Kevin asked me to start praying about joining the pastoral team. After laughing at his suggestion for a few weeks, my wife and I actually did start praying regularly about if He was leading us towards a pastoral role at MVCC. I preached a sermon on a Sunday almost 3 years ago (Acts 2 Pentecost), would periodically fill in teaching Tuesday night “Biblical Distinctives” classes, and was doing discipleship/teaching in College Ministry. While the idea of being a pastor seemed somewhat silly at the time, in hindsight God was pulling me closer to this role.
In 2018, Kelsey and I took the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course (highly recommend this to every Christian). This caused our hearts to be stirred up for people in the world who don’t have the same access to the Gospel that we do in this country. Through a vision trip to Puerto Escondido, Mexico and much prayer/counseling, Kelsey and I agreed to partner with another MVCC couple to help temporarily pastor the Crossway Church plant in Mexico. The strategy and plan was to raise up indigenous leaders who would take over leadership when they were ready. Very quickly (within the week) after we came to this conclusion, God clearly showed us this was not in His plans for us.
While humbling and confusing for us at the time, it helped open my eyes and heart to the possibility of a pastoral role at MVCC. After all, if I was willing to assume a pastoral role in a cross-cultural context, why did it seem silly in Fort Collins? So, after ongoing prayer and discussion with Kelsey, we submitted an application to the pastors. After multiple months in the interview process with the pastoral team, I joined the pastors in the Pastor-in-training process in October of 2020. This certainly has been a journey, but I have felt affirmed and more confident in each stage of the process. Even though I was admittedly recruited to a pastoral position at MVCC (and even was initially reluctant), I now feel called and even aspire to the position of bi-vocational pastor.
In this plurality of pastors, I see one of my major roles is to focus on missions—developing and maintaining international relationships, helping assess and send those called to go to the mission field, and mobilizing our body to care about the unreached people groups of the world who have yet to hear the good news about Jesus.
I do not take the pastor role lightly (maybe the biggest reason I kept suggesting to Kevin for several years that we just keep praying about it). MVCC is a special, special group of people and I intend to be on my knees frequently asking Jesus our Great Shepherd to lead us… and otherwise to be fully dressed in the armor of God—fighting back the darkness and extending His Kingdom together!
In the love of Christ, expectant that God will use MVCC to bless Fort Collins and the ends of the earth… let’s keep laboring for the Lord until all tribes and tongues have the Gospel proclaimed to them!
If you weren’t able to join us for service on Sunday: June 27th, you can watch they laying of hands on Chris Mitchell below.