Brian Sauvé and his wife, Lexy (Deeply Rooted’s Contributing Editor and Submissions Manager) live in Ogden, Utah, with two young boys and a tight, flourishing church body. Brian is a regular contributor to Deeply Rooted, and we’re thrilled to have him speaking at The Deeply Rooted Retreat this year. Here’s a chance for retreat attendees to get to know Brian before October.
My dad led me to faith in Christ when I was very young. I’m thankful for the grace God showed me in giving me two parents who both love Jesus. My dad served in the US Air Force, which led to many moves growing up. I think that experience has given me a soft spot for all kinds of churches and church cultures, as we experienced a wide spectrum of church communities growing up. Our last move, from England to Utah in 1998, has so far proved permanent. A lot of the highlights of my life have happened here in the Beehive state. I met my wife in Layton, Utah at the (trust me, terrible) Jr. High we both attended. We courted in the halls of Northridge High School, got married before we could rent a car, and had our two boys by the time we could rent one. Utah is the place where God called me to ministry and first allowed me to serve in a church, and also the place where he called me to the church plant that we serve in to this day.
The best advice anyone has ever given me in knowing and growing in Christ is from the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:23:
“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
The “things” he’s referring to (from Colossians 2:16–22) are laws and regulations and hyper-spiritual, religious experiences. And according to Paul, they are of no value in bringing us closer to God. None. Instead, Paul urges the Christian in verse 19 to hold fast to the Head, to Jesus. This reality, what you could call Gospel-centrality, is absolutely everything in knowing Jesus.
Want to know Jesus? Lift your hands empty to the God who delights to fill emptiness. Don’t raise up hands full of works and law-keeping to God to give him a gift. You and I have no gift to offer God but expectant emptiness. That changes everything, I think.
Utah has this way of grabbing onto Christians and keeping them, which is what it’s done with our little family. It’s a strange state. Many know Utah as the state with the Mormons, but don’t know that only 2–3% of the population identifies as Evangelical Christian. That kind of spiritual culture has a very marked effect on the local church. There isn’t much of what you would call “cultural Christianity.”
This forced me early on in my teenage years to really have to decide, “Am I going to follow Jesus? If so, what does that mean?” I realized quickly that it meant being ready to offer the hope of the Gospel to the 98 out of 100 people I’d meet every day who had no solid hope. God used that experience to draw me into ministry.
I first remember feeling the call to pastoral ministry at 15. At that time, my youth pastor invited me to lead a worship team for the youth group and also to teach occasionally. It was basically a train wreck, and I cringe every time I think of my first “sermon,” which was just terrible.
But God was patient, and as I grew out of the youth group, worship leading led to opportunities to serve on staff at that same church for the adult service. It was in this time that I really became passionate about teaching the Bible. God led my wife and I to a small church plant that was committed to Gospel-centered, verse-by-verse teaching from Scripture, and we joined the core group. It was at this church that I first served as a pastor, and now as the teaching pastor.
That’s right, pastors are not a separate class of Christian in the body of Christ. We are prone to wander and sin, dependent on the same grace as the newest Christian sitting in the pew. The hardest challenge, I think, is the temptation to pretend that this isn’t true. People don’t want fallible pastors. They don’t want pastors who sin. But that’s the only type of pastor there is! So the temptation is to pretend as if you don’t sin, to hide behind a façade of perfection. I’m grateful for an elder team at Refuge Church that doesn’t expect this of me.
We’ll be opening the Bible together in the hopes of seeing the utter centrality and glory of the Gospel. My prayer is that we would see every part of our lives orbit around the Gospel of grace and the God of the Gospel, setting aside anything else that would compete for our affections.
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