Tim Wright knew he wanted to be a pastor at age seven. He was influenced by his grandfather, Rev. Ernest Klawitter, a Lutheran Pastor who headed up the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement in Minneapolis, MN. Tim would listen as his grandpa preached at evening camp meetings—presenting the gospel and giving alter calls. It was watching people go forward for prayer that was most meaningful to young Tim. He wanted to have that kind of impact on people!
Knowing he wanted to attend a Christian college to further his Bible knowledge and nurture his calling, Tim applied to Oral Roberts University. Unfortunately, due to academic performance, a rejection letter soon followed. Tim was disappointed, angry, and scared.
His mom suggested LBI. She had attended for a year when she was younger—along with her brother, sister, and multiple cousins. Tim's uncle sealed the deal, explaining that LBI had just started a 4-year program. For someone going into full-time ministry, there couldn't have been a better place.
Tim started at LBI Seattle in 1976. It was a small community where deep connections were made. Together students took part in an intensive study of the Bible, worship, and personally experienced the "Jesus Movement." It was a spiritual awakening sweeping the country, and Tim and his friends seemed to be right in the middle of it. As Tim puts it, "It was like a mountain top experience you never want to leave." But Tim did leave.
He returned to Minneapolis for two-years of liberal arts study, but most importantly to marry the love of his life, Jan. Newly married and pregnant with their first child, Tim and Jan returned to LBI in 1980. Now located on a new campus, LBI had expanded its offerings to bring in a more diverse group of students. Campus life was quite different, and the LBI experience was morphing. "We studied spiritual movements and all of them seem to have a shelf-life. It was time for the next chapter in all of our lives."
Tim's life journey speaks to the "…unwritten story of the impact LBI has had on the church." Following graduation, he attended seminary for one year at Bethel in St. Paul, MN, and then finished at Luther Seminary. His Pastoral internship at Community Church of Joy in Phoenix, AZ, turned into a 22-year Associate Pastor position with responsibility for the worship life of the church. In 2004 he felt called to plant a church out of Community Church of Joy, and with the Senior Pastor's blessing, Community of Grace became a reality in 2005.
The first thing you'll notice about the website for Community of Grace is the unique URL: www.boldrecklacegrace.org. When asked about this, Tim speaks passionately about the tragic fact that men and boys have left and are leaving the church. Most church congregations are 70% female. Tim has worked to integrate masculine language that invites men to understand the grace that "…splashes everywhere." Today Community of Grace is about 45% male because of his focused efforts to bring men back to church.
Tim has authored six books, has a podcast with New York Times best-selling author Michael Gurian, trains pastors and leaders throughout the world, and continues to Pastor. He and Jan have one daughter, Alycia, and one son, Mike. Both of their kids live near them, and their five grandchildren keep Tim and Jan young at heart.
Key Learning at LBI: The Bible is God's living word, and it's as fresh today is it was when it was first written. Through the words on the page, God speaks love and grace to us personally.
Advice to students: Take advantage of all that the college experience offers to you. Don't miss the relationships, the moments of life that will happen. You'll never get this time in your life back. Make sure you find a place to keep your faith alive. Your faith will be challenged in college. It's not a bad thing to be open to life philosophy and other religions, but find a place to keep your soul secure.