Hearing Scott speak on a regular basis, it can be easy to take for granted what a gifted communicator he is. When Scott teaches It’s as if what is in black and white comes alive in 3D-color. Scott has a unique way of engaging and captivating his audience that truly makes him stand out.
I worked side by side with Scott Jones for over a decade. I have been following his work closely for the last decade. Foremost, I love Scott's authentic relationship with God. It's honest and real. If you're super "churchy" and like religious clichés, he may not work for you; if you are looking for some real answers to real life issues not only will Scott's teaching help you but his personal walk with God will instruct you. He is committed to being a great husband to Donita, continues to disciple his two kids, Morgan and Noah, in The Way and actually knows and loves his neighbors. He is a teacher, leader, innovator, evangelist. His main fault? He doesn't live in San Antonio with me so I can hang with him and enjoy what God is doing in and through him daily.
My very good friend Scott Jones has a vibrant, personal relationship with God and a passion for God's kingdom and His people. For the last decade, he's served the Phoenix area as a prominent pastor and community leader. Scott has a solid family and excellent relationships with other pastors in our area. Perhaps his best gift is his ability to teach he truth of the Bible thoughtfully, with humor and relevance. Scott is a great communicator!
After knowing Scott for nearly 10 years I’ve learned much about him. I count him among my “favorite people on the planet”. He is a true friend. I admire his fun loving yet deeply intentional approach to life as a husband, father, pastor, teacher and creator. His astute awareness of a shifting culture keeps him on the razors edge of relevancy as a potent Biblical teacher, innovator, influencer, leader and connector of any generation. In an age where millennials are leaving the churches in mass, the church needs more people like Scott at the healm! His years of church experience, love for God and people, and cool demeanor leave him well equipped to lead, teach and pastor a forward thinking- intergenerational church
I was raised in Orlando, Florida, the middle child with two younger and two older sisters. I had loving parents and my sisters and I got along as well as most kids do except when I was losing in monopoly. My dad was a boat dealer and we spent most weekends on the St. Johns River. This is where I developed my love for anything that has to do with the water. That passion has never left me.
I grew up around sports—water skiing, sailing, football and baseball. These activities were great for building leadership, my understanding of team and gave me a great competitive outlet. When I was 15 I found soccer and played it competitively throughout college and into my adult life. Golf has replaced that now though. It’s better for conversation and easier on my shins!
I was raised in an unchurched home and by the time I was in high school I was heavily involved in drugs and alcohol and had become estranged from my family. One evening on the way home from Daytona Beach I was nearly killed in a car accident, which got me thinking about eternity. This set me on a search for meaning and purpose which led me to trust Christ as my Savior at the age of 19. I sought mentoring from the pastor that led me to Christ and soon gained a deep desire to lead others and teach God’s word. From the moment I taught my first 5th grade boys class I was hooked and I knew that God was calling me into the ministry.
To begin my preparation for ministry, I attended Bryan College where I received a bachelor’s degree in Greek to give me confidence in working with the original languages of Scripture. One of the highlights of this season was connecting with a group of guys who had marginalized God and leading them into a passionate relationship with Christ.
Following my undergraduate work I moved to Texas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary for further ministry training. It was then that I came in contact with Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas. This is not only where I cut my teeth in ministry but also met Donita (yes, in the singles ministry) and we were married in May of 1991. We have had an incredible journey together growing in our relationship with God and one another. We’ve had lots of laughs, deep moments of love and some pain that caused us to trust God at the deepest levels. Losing two children through miscarriage forced us to find God and love him more than the babies we would only see in heaven. But when we look into the eyes of our daughter Morgan and our son Noah, we give God thanks and are grateful for what he has given and taken away.
In the same year we were married, I began my ministry at Pantego. Senior Pastor Randy Frazee invited me to join his leadership team. Randy and I formed a partnership in ministry that allowed us to experience God’s blessing in our personal and professional lives that lasts to this day. One of our most meaningful partnering efforts was the development of the vision for community and spiritual formation put forth in Randy’s book, The Connecting Church. This vision included a new discipleship model based on the 30 Core Competencies of a follower of Christ. This model and the accompanying assessment tool, The Christian Life Profile©, has been recognized by Dallas Willard as “one of the most substantive approaches to discipleship he has seen in the modern context.”
Over a 15-year period, I played numerous roles in the development and growth of Pantego Bible Church serving as a lay leader, Pastor of Outreach & Community and Teaching/Executive Pastor. Progressive growth caused Pantego to look at its future. I had the adventure of being the point leader in the relocation from the 7-acre central Arlington campus to its 76-acre campus, off Interstate 30, in Fort Worth in 2001. In this role I worked with architects in design, led the stewardship campaigns, marketed the move to the community and planned the special move-in services. Pantego’s Easter services had over 5000 in attendance.
In May 2001, Donita and I began to sense God’s leading for another ministry role. The calling became clear. It was time for the next season—not because we were unhappy or tired. It was a matter of stewardship. I believed, and Donita confirmed, that God was calling me to be a Lead Pastor. I shared my conviction and leading with my partner and best friend Randy, and we both agreed that it was my time to lead. Though we would both miss the partnership, we believed it was better for the kingdom of God. We have stayed connected ever since and worked on various projects together over the years.
After much prayer and exploration God led Donita and me to Grace Community Church in Tempe, Arizona. Grace was a flagship church in the city of Tempe with a tremendous legacy. Early innovations, visionary pastoral leadership, and a location in the heart of explosive housing development were used by God to position Grace as the first mega church in the East Valley of Phoenix. Grace had fallen into decline and desired to prepare itself for more effective ministry to a changing world. I felt my experience had prepared me for such a calling and I began the role of Senior Pastor in June 2002.
I entered the church as the third Senior Pastor in its 35-year history. The church’s leadership was looking to the future and desired pastoral leadership that would lead Grace through a change process to effectively position them for a renewed season of outreach and disciple making.
There was great excitement and energy in the church as we began to look to the future. During the first 18 months I taught God’s Word, got to know the church and lead the elders, staff and key lay leadership through a visioning process for outreach, spiritual formation and community. I then began to teach the congregation about the kind of life Jesus lived, the culture we would need to create and the changes that we would need to make in order to effectively reach people in an ever-changing society.
People began to look at their spiritual life holistically, started groups in their neighborhoods, became open to “outsiders,” and reached out to those who didn’t know God. These efforts resulted in 60% of the congregation connecting in community. Group life was centered on spiritual formation, reaching out to the unchurched, leadership development, volunteerism, global outreach and community compassion. It was refreshing move of God’s Spirit among us.
The worship services took on a new look and feel as well. We got very clear on our purpose for gathering. A new emphasis on outreach was put in place as well as a plan for deepening the journey of those whose faith was strong. Our commitment to the arts was reinvigorated; we began to experience greater ethnic diversity, a more casual environment, and a huge influx of seekers. People were finding Grace to be a safe place to test the waters, to try God or try God again and to reconnect with the faith they had abandoned.
We saw God do amazing things—from people giving $1 million annually to global and local outreach to 800 people placing their faith in Christ—and many things in between. We feel we had a great 5-year journey at Grace. Our faith was stretched beyond belief and our experience with God and his people was inspiring. But we wanted more. And God wanted more for us. We sensed that God was leading us to an ever-increasing emphasis on outreach and a passion to reach people far from God. In our asking, God made it clear to us that our time at Grace had been fulfilled. So we made our transition in June 2007.
After Grace I took some time to re-focus and get clear about who I was and what God had called me to do. I had a great time connecting with some great churches around the country and exploring the opportunity to lead them into the future. God showed me in this process the incredible diversity of people and styles of ministry that he is using around the country.
As we were also exploring the possibility of planting a church I came in contact with New Life as they were hosting a church-planting event. This connection led the leadership of New Life to invite me to lead their team. The Senior Pastor offered his job to me because he knew the church needed a new and different leader to take the church forward into the future.
I wasn’t sure if this was God’s will because I was still in the process of discernment. So we tried an experiment. They had just transitioned their teaching pastor so I came on as the interim teaching pastor and led from the side for about 6 months. This allowed me to get to know the church and for them to get to know me. There were questions that Donita and I had about whether or not I would be a good fit for the culture of New Life. But after multiple conversations with advisers and with New Life about what they wanted the future to look like, we sensed that this is what God wanted us to do.
We saw immediate growth in the church and a new excitement from the congregation about inviting others to church. We capitalized on the church’s heritage of being a church for the community and utilized creative outreach series to reach out to people who were not a part of New Life. Two that stand out were “Fuel” where we gave away free gas during the gasoline price hike in Arizona and “The Bucket List” where we granted bucket list wishes for people in our surrounding community.
I had the privilege of leading the church through a process to re-define our mission, vision and strategy that honored the past and allowed us to look toward the future with new eyes and language that connected culturally. This was a collaborate process that engaged elders, and staff and culminated in a series called “Divine Conspiracy” that catalyzed the congregation in the church’s future mission.
During my time at New Life we had the opportunity to serve the community in multiple ways. From the City of Peoria’s “Neighborhood Pride”, being the lead church in the American Cancer Society’s “Peoria Relay for Life” with 6000 in attendance, to public school outreaches like “Embrace Teachers”, to partnering to eliminate sex trafficking with Streetlight Phoenix – all of this was our way of expressing our vision “to light up our community with the presence of Jesus.”
This was a great season of ministry for me. I grew as a leader, a communicator, a visionary and a pastor. My time at New Life has shaped me, allowed me to make one of my greatest impacts in ministry and make some life-long friends. God is honored in so many ways.
I believe we are entering our finest season of ministry. I am a seasoned leader with a wealth of experience and tremendous energy to create, shape and lead a church into her place in God’s Story. In this next season of ministry Donita and I are looking very intentionally to connect with a community that is passionate about reaching people far from God, and investing in a community of Christ followers who want to change their world. We believe our greatest win will be to connect with a church that shares our spiritual DNA, values, style, culture and approach to ministry. Our heart is to bring love and passionate leadership as we offer ourselves “to inspire people to join God in transforming the world.”
May God bring us together for many years of life and service in his Kingdom!