Pastor urges audience to take risks in God’s service
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
The pastor of a Gilbert-based megachurch challenged his Chapel listeners on Monday to step out of their comfort zone and into a life that trusts God for provision and direction.
Scott Ridout of Sun Valley Community Church, a congregation of about 5,000 worshippers across three campuses, used examples from his life and from the life of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. He encouraged his Grand Canyon University Arena audience to “leave the comfort of what is, and embrace the discomfort of what could be and should be if God was in charge.”
Ridout recalled times when he stepped out in faith. One was as an engineering major at Virginia Tech University, when he suddenly realized — even though he was a pastor’s son — that “I had to make my own decision (to accept Christ).” Later, faced with choosing between youth pastor positions at a thriving church in Philadelphia and a struggling one in Arizona, he chose the latter destination.
“There was something about the people here,” he said. “They didn’t have it together, but they knew they needed Jesus. God was calling me to get a little uncomfortable for Him.”
A third occasion came in mid-1998, when Sun Valley needed a new lead pastor and turned to him after five years as its youth pastor. Ridout, then enjoying his work with the youth, said he turned down the church’s overtures twice before committing the decision to prayer — and saying yes.
He subsequently took the church from 400 members down to 200, he said.
“It was the dumb leadership of an arrogant young punk,” Ridout said of his rocky start. “But there were people who believed in me. I took a risk on God, and people took a risk on me.”
Similarly, he said, Nehemiah left a comfortable position as an assistant to the king of Persia to return to Jerusalem for a massive rebuilding of the city.
“He believed that God had gone before him,” Ridout said, “and he earned the favor of a pagan king.”
Christians always should ask themselves the hard questions about where they’re going in life, he said, and who they are trusting to get there.
“A lot of times when we get comfortable, we forget about God,” he said. “It’s so easy to coast in life…. What risks are you taking (for Him)? Now is always the best time to follow Jesus.”
Chapel will move next Monday to Antelope Gym as work begins to expand the Arena’s seating capacity. It will meet in the gym weekly through April 7, with the exception of March 17 (spring break).
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.