Jon Spellman’s love for Jesus and his church was forged very early in life. His earliest memories are of ministering in music in the local church setting as well as “on the road” traveling the length and breadth of the United States as drummer and singer with the “Spellman Family Singers.” During the late 1970’s through the early 1980’s they were all the rage on the smallish Pentecostal church circuit. His travels exposed him to some of the most bizarre of church culture and still, he finds himself in love with the church. Strange really… When reflecting on his life in the church, Jon is pretty amazed that even in the middle of all the weirdness, he holds a genuine place of love and affection for this thing and just wants to see it healthy and thriving. He thinks the best days are ahead.
Many people would have been turned off by some of the nonsense Jon was subjected to but for him, it has inspired curiosity, curiosity about these people and this God who created them. He wants to understand more about this organism called “church.” What makes it tick? In light of all the problems the church has experienced and caused, how has it been able to still accomplish so much good? And if it were to become even just a little bit more healthy, how much more good could it do? A whole lot!
Through all of Jon’s adult life, he has served alongside his wife of 24 years, Tina. They have three girls — Emily, Rachel and Allie. Tina also is an ordained Foursquare pastor/superintendent and together, they have served for over 22 years in some form of pastoral and executive leadership within the Foursquare church. The Living Way Network is the network of missional communities and community center they co-pastor.. For all of these years he has attempted to hold in tension two sometimes competing values: Love for this movement, which leads to pride and celebration when victories are won; and frustration, which leads to anger and sadness when institutional bone-headedness carries the day. This is likely true of all families. The ones that can bring the most joy can also cause the most pain.
After ten years of pastoral ministry, Jon engaged in graduate work at King’s Seminary (now, “King’s University”), culminating in a Master of Arts in Practical Theology, which is probably a little better that “Impractical Theology.” (Although some would argue that all theology is immensely impractical and those who pursue it are given to circular conversations, using very large words that ultimately lead nowhere helpful…) He tries, at every opportunity, to make things of a theological nature accessible to regular folk, he really is good at that! Jon possesses the ability to see the big picture and break difficult concepts down into small, manageable pieces. It has been said that Jon is one of the best “dot-connectors” around! One more thing you will find to be true about Jon, he writes way better than he talks! He has published two books (Organic Worship and The 50-Day Shift: A Practical, Pentecostal Theology For The Rest Of Us and regularly bloviates on his blog: jonspellman.com.
In addition to theology, he applies this knack for dot-connecting to leadership development. Jon is a coach to pastors, church planters and organizational leaders, and a consultant to leadership teams. For over 12 years, he served as a district leader and national team member for church planting in the Foursquare church. He is a certified Gospel Coach with Church Multiplication Ministries and currently is the executive director of the Atlanta Church Planting Alliance. The Alliance is a collection of network leaders ranging from sacramental/ancient denominations (Anglican, Lutheran) to more modern church planting networks such as Acts 29 and Stadia with just about every stripe in between (Foursquare, Assembly of God, Southern Baptist, Wesleyan, etc.) represented. The primary focus of the ACPA is to provide affirmation, support and relationship among significant network leaders in the Atlanta region.
In recent days, Jon has taken the plunge back into academia, pursuing doctoral work at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. His area of study is Leadership with Global Perspectives. Jon is particularly interested in understanding how organizational “centers” and “edges” dance together in their seemingly perpetual love/hate relationship. Why do they hold such animosity towards each other when their need for one another is so great? He is hoping to gain some clarity on this, clarity that will be helpful in expanding the missional footprints of ecclesial organizations all over the world!
That’s a lofty goal, right? So, just in case that crashes and burns, he and Tina recently repurposed their church buildings into a community center and opened a coffee shop there. (Coffee is very important to them…) Daily, people are stepping into authentic community, coming to know Jesus and following him. At the end of it all, that ’s really what Jon wants, more healthy followers of Jesus who are enjoying the journey through life together.