8 Lessons in 8 Years


2016 marked 8 years at Harvest Indy West for me. Wow these eight years have flown by. So much has changed. My family has changed. Our church has changed. And I have changed. I thank the Lord for Harvest and the privilege of serving here for an extended period of time.

Looking back there was one day I thought I was going to be fired.

It was a beautiful Easter Sunday in the theater. I was teaching in the 2nd-5th classroom. My lesson was on the resurrection and I was trying to illustrate the difference between a magic trick and a miracle. I brought with me some intense waterproof matches. These aren’t your ordinary grocery store matches. These are Bear Grylls extreme outdoor matches so you can survive in a monsoon. You can actually submerge these matches underwater and they will still work. In fact you can light the match and then hold the match underwater until the flame goes out… and then when you pull the match out of water somehow the flame will reignite. Like I said it’s magic. So with a packed worship service next door, I was teaching the difference between magic and miracles, because the resurrection is a miracle. Halfway through the flaming match I realized… wow that’s a lot of smoke. So quickly I ran to open the exterior doors. The adult teachers and a handful of kids joined me and were scrambling to use their Bibles to fan the smoke away from the smoke detectors and out the emergency doors. For about 3 minutes I had this sick feeling that this is it! Any second and the alarms will go off. Everyone will have to evacuate the building and I just ruined Easter! What was I thinking? Please Lord, HELP!

I remember hearing Pastor Doug preaching next door and all the eyes of the children looking at me. Kids have an extraordinary sense of knowing when somebody is about to get in trouble. They knew this was a problem. Amazingly no alarm, no fire trucks, and none of the parents had a clue what just happened. The fire marshal really needs to check theater #8, because there’s no way those smoke alarms are working properly. Thank you Lord! Eventually the smoke cleared and I learned a valuable lesson... hopefully the kids did too.

Eight years later, I am still here and I’ve learned a few more lessons along the way. Here are 8 things I have learned over the last 8 years of ministry.

1. Worship is not a prelude.

Growing up I thought worship was a warm up for the preaching. Boy was I dead wrong. Harvest has taught me how to participate in worship by singing to God and I love lifting high the name of Jesus with my faith-family. 

2. I have a spiritual gift.

The fact that God has given me a spiritual gift means that He chose to not give me every gift. Whew! This means, I’m not supposed to be gifted at everything.

3. Programs don’t make disciples, people do.

The Great Commission is not an assembly line. It takes real people having meaningful conversations and engaging in everyday life. Discipleship is way less complicated than we think. I've had a front row seat of watching lives changed through discipleship.

4. Uncommon Community really is uncommon.

I’ve been encouraged, challenged, prayed for, held accountable, and accepted by lots of people. I pray my children see the importance of pursuing intentional relationships and living out the one-anothers of Scripture.

5. More than working for God, this is where God is working in me.

The day I realized that God is more interested in working in me than the work I do for Him was a day that changed everything. This is a place that I want to be serving with my family because I know God is at work.

6. I didn’t learn that in seminary.

Some of my best experiences have come from things not in my job description. I’m thankful for Pastor Doug and the many opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow. I'm given the permission to try things out and I don’t have to be afraid of failure.

7. Unity is a big deal.

Our elders embody servant leadership. Let’s never assume this or take their humility for granted. I know the elders have my back and I am so thankful to follow and learn from them.

8. "You are loved" is more than a motto.

You know it’s coming at the end of every service, but this church really does manifest a spirit of genuine love unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen. Thanks for loving me as one of your pastors.


I love my church.

Pastor Eric Carlson