Season 1 / Church & Upbringing: The Early Years - with Steve & Jane Warner

Editor: Ariana deVries
Mastered by: Joshua Snethlage with Mixed Media Studios

Steve and Jane Warner have been our long time friends, and we have had many great conversations with them. They have been on quite a journey over the last couple years.
In this first of four episodes with them, they begin their story on how the Church & Institution don’t mix. Plus, they share with us some of their history and the lead up to a defining moment in their relationship with each other and church.

Scott deVries

Yeah. So we have Steve and Jane on the podcast, which is kind of fun. Steve's finishing up his cookie.

Jane Warner

It's good to be here

Steve Warner

A great cookie by Ariana - we're enjoying.

Ariana deVries

You're allowed to laugh!

Scott deVries

It feels like a radio show.

Jane Warner

A radio talk show for like Jungle Jam and Friends.

Scott deVries

I've known you guys for 15 years. Ariana you've known them for...

Ariana deVries

My entire life.

Scott deVries

Your entire life!

Ariana deVries

I lived in their house when I was a baby.

Jane Warner

Oh, yes!

Scott deVries

That is kind of a weird thing.

Jane Warner

Yes. Wow.

Yes.

Scott deVries

How long did you live together?

Ariana deVries

Three months.

Scott deVries

And Ariana you were how old at the time?

Ariana deVries

I was a baby. I was as old as Felix. Two months.

Steve Warner

Wow.

We go way back.

Jane Warner

Yes.

Steve Warner

Yep. Started dating when we were 16.

Jane Warner

We like to tell our kids 17. We were almost 17. Yeah.

Scott deVries

So you're proof that relationships in high school always work out then.

Jane Warner

Yes.

Steve Warner

Perfectly. Of course.

Scott deVries

Did you know each other before high school, or that's when you met?

I mean, Steve, you've been at the church, you and Jane, for its whole lifetime? Basically?

Steve Warner

Almost. I think we missed the first three or four years till I moved to Waterloo to go to school. And connected right away.

Scott deVries

Nice. So we go. We go pretty well. Way back. We've had lots of discussions over the years; more so in recent times. Which is kind of fun. Tell us a bit about where you come from. What's like your from the own sound area? Both of you? Yeah. You met early on in your life?

Steve Warner

We are high school sweethearts, actually.

No, we we came from fairly different directions previous to that. But we ended up actually on the same school bus. So we knew each other from grade nine.

Jane Warner

Knew of each other.

Steve Warner

Knew of each other. Some music class crossing paths.

Jane Warner

Yes

Steve Warner

Definitely the school bus piece. Other pieces became...

Jane Warner

We were the bass section in the band class. I played baritone.

Steve Warner

I played tuba. So we were holding up the bottom.

Scott deVries

Sounds like a romantic comedy.

Jane Warner

A lot of stuff can happen back with music class.

Scott deVries

Oh, that's funny. Your church backgrounds were a bit different than each other. Right?

Steve Warner

Quite, quite different. I grew up in the Evangelical world. Most of my years in terms of what I remember are growing up in a Christian Missionary Alliance Church, in Owen Sound, which is where I was until I moved to Waterloo to go to school.

Scott deVries

So Jane. Yeah, you grew up in a similar church, or a little different?

Jane Warner

No, I grew up in the United Church, actually; until my mom realized that we didn't like going to church. And there was a youngish kind of pastor who was a great singer, and a great speaker, who was pastoring at a small United Church in the country, a little closer to us, and people seem to be liking it. So we went there. And that's when they got saved. When we were at that church. And I grew up in a farm, so I'm a farm girl - two older brothers. My parents lost the farm, but they found some faith in the losing of the farm. And yeah, after we moved from the farm, my parents ran a retirement home because my mom's a nurse. In a small village which put us ended up ended up going to the same high school on the same bus.

Steve Warner

Yeah, it's 'cause we lived just five minutes outside of that same village. And a later connection that we discovered was that as Jane mentioned, her mom is a nurse or was a nurse and so was my dad. And so they actually had crossed paths in their profession.

Jane Warner

And the other thing where they cross paths was even though my parents went to the United Church, his were Christian Missionary Alliance, they both went to Full Gospel Businessmen.

Steve Warner

Right. So it was a kind of common common connection, charismatic end of things there.

Jane Warner

We never crossed paths, and they never crossed paths in those settings, necessarily, till we met.

Scott deVries

So growing up, I mean, together in high school, did your church experiences, your different church experiences, was that an issue in any way? Or you felt both you were on the same page at that point, or wasn't even in the discussion? I mean, you're in high school at the time. So I'm curious how much you were thinking about church or the ways of...

Jane Warner

Well, I was like, floored when I realized that they went Sunday morning and Sunday night.

Steve Warner

Floored in a good way?

Jane Warner

Sunday night church? Who goes to church on Sunday night? But that was where I heard him play the piano for the first time when I was like, whoa, he can play the piano. I didn't really know that before then. Because we were in band class, but he was just like, tuba.

Steve Warner

I wasn't pulling out the piano trump card just yet.

Scott deVries

Yeah, you want to save that for the big moment.

Steve Warner

Yeah, go for the big sell.

Jane Warner

Yeah.

Steve Warner

I think the thing is that, because when your parents had come to faith, it was in your high school. So by the time we met, the journeys were more similar than just in the United Church.

Jane Warner

Yeah. So he actually came and played at our United Church. Hired when I was in high school, which was very convenient for me.

Scott deVries

Yeah

Jane Warner

I'm not sure it's parents appreciated that too much.

Scott deVries

Was that your first time getting paid for doing Christian ministry then?

Steve Warner

Yeah, I think so. I mean, other than just, you know, weddings here and there. But as far as in a church setting. Yeah, I hadn't had anything previous to that. The setting I grew up in, which I still value for sure, was very encouraging. I mean, it there was a lot of music in that church and was very encouraging in terms of discovering and using your gifts there. So I had lots of opportunity from pretty much as far back as I can remember. We started that church when I was in grade five. I think. So.

Jane Warner

And you love church.

Steve Warner

I loved church, and it loved me.

Jane Warner

Yep

Scott deVries

I see.

Steve Warner

So because I was pretty gifted musically, even early on. So even when I was like that young, I was involved in helping productions of kids' musicals and Christmas musicals and playing and services and stuff. So, you know, early on, you can get some pretty nice accolades going on. And that's not all bad in terms of encouragement, but it sure can have another underbelly to it.

Scott deVries

Yeah

Jane Warner

Well, and even when you were finishing university, I had been working already for a couple years than we had our first baby. He's just finishing university, what are we going to do? What are you going to do?

Scott deVries

Right.

Jane Warner

And you would say things like...what he loves to do is just be at the church and do stuff for the church. So we weren't thinking working at the church, necessarily, because we didn't see how that would never be happening. But you just wanted to be able to spend a lot of time there and help because you loved doing that.

Steve Warner

I really liked the setting, I enjoyed the community. And certainly, I mean, not all churches will be the same, but that that particular setting was one that did have a fair bit of music going on. So for somebody who was gifted musically, it was a great spot to be. And I recognized for lots of people that don't have a church background that is not necessarily the case and can be hard sometimes to find a place to, as you're younger, to see those gifts sort of grow and flourish.

Scott deVries

Yeah. So, I mean, for the listeners, Steve's probably the best piano player you've never heard of.

But so for you with church sounds like your experience, you love church, because of that early sense of community you got and also that you felt like you could bring your musical gift to the table, and it could be appreciated. Yeah.

Steve Warner

Yeah. And I think the other side of it, too, or additionally, I guess would be just that because my parents were, you know, raising a Christian family or doing their best to that they were pushing, encouraging to be involved, right. So whether it was youth groups, and I did take Jane to some of those youth group events when we were in high school, or, you know, my involvement in services productions, that kind of stuff. Of course, they were full force behind that, because they love to see their kid using these gifts and being involved in the church. Of course, yeah, wasn't the same for everybody else in my family, because they didn't have maybe the same gifts that the church just loves to utilize. So, their experiences and their stories would be different than mine, for sure.

Scott deVries

Yeah.

Steve Warner

But for me, it was definitely a big, big, big, big part of my life all the way through.

Jane Warner

Not a big part of mine.

Scott deVries

Yeah

Jane Warner

Just kind of something we did on Sunday until he came along.

Scott deVries

So you pulled her in a little bit.

Jane Warner

And when we dated it was going to youth group, going skiing because I skied and he wanted to be with me. So he came skiing. We didn't kiss. No, we didn't kissed dating goodbye? But, we were good kids.

Scott deVries

You played by the rules.

Jane Warner

Played by the rules.

Scott deVries

Yeah, yeah. So. But going forward. I mean, obviously, you got married. Spoiler alert, you got married. And then early on in your marriage you showed up at our church. At that point., I was not there, of course.

Steve Warner

Actually, it would be the other order.

Scott deVries

Really?

Steve Warner

Yeah, because I came to Waterloo to start at the local university, or one of them, in '87, the fall of 87. We weren't married till June of '89 years later. So in that first couple years, she would come and join me at some of the events that we were doing or services. But now we got married in '89. So for me, like I got involved right away and actually knew about this church. Ahead of that, my dad worked to find a church that I could be a part of when I moved to Waterloo. And largely, I think, because of those, as Jane mentioned, the full gospel connections, that was kind of where he pursued was connections he had there. And that's how we found out about where we were, I began to attend in September of that year.

Scott deVries

Wow.

Steve Warner

So yeah, so it was a couple years of me just being involved in Jane visiting. And then we got married and, and I still had two more years of school. So graduated April, May, whatever, of 1991.

Jane Warner

'91.

Steve Warner

Yeah.

Scott deVries

So your dad made a recommendation and then you just went for it.

Steve Warner

Yeah, we came and visited the church one time in the summer when I was still pursuing a place to live. And so we found out where it was - made a little bit of connection there. And then when September rolled around, moved down and started going and that was really the only place I ever attended the entire time that I've lived in Waterloo area. I mean, it was home the first summer between first and second year but then we got married the next summer and it's just been here and and there-involved there ever since.

Scott deVries

So did you do get married at the church?

Steve Warner

No. We got, I think, largely because of so much family connection, we got married in Owen Sound at the Alliance church.

Scott deVries

Okay.

Jane Warner

But the senior pastor from the church in Waterloo...

Steve Warner

Yeah, was part of the service. Kind of co-officiated.

Scott deVries

Oh, that's kind of interesting.

Steve Warner

Yeah.

Jane Warner

So we got double the marriage counselling because we had two pastors.

Ariana deVries

Did you really?

Jane Warner

Little bit. Little bit. Actually, we only met with him once when he realized he was taking part of the service and he wanted to make sure we were okay. Doing the same book, the that they still do now for marriage counselling, pre marriage councelling.

Ariana deVries

The book you guys did our marriage counselling with?

Jane Warner

Yes. That was one.

Scott deVries

Yeah we got marriage counselled by these folks, which has been amazing.

Ariana deVries

The book that we didn't follow?

Scott deVries

Don't tell anyone that.

How many years then since attending, the church we're going to now, how many years until you were on staff at the church? Was it early on, that you hopped on staff?

Steve Warner

Yeah, so I graduated in summer of '91. And then got approached about coming on part time staff late that year, like I think around November, and started basically the middle of January '92. So...

Jane Warner

So that conversation happened in our apartment with the senior pastor coming saying that he heard-he was at a conference and God told them to approach you about coming on staff.

Ariana deVries

That's kind of hard to question.

Steve Warner

And he came to kind of find out where we were at, where we're at, where I was, at that point, didn't really know what was next. Other than that, I was teaching some private lessons to just help the income, we were pregnant, and then actually...

Our oldest was born before that conversation. And our intent, our heart, we knew was that Jane wouldn't have to go back to work full time, but didn't have a big income stream in the future.

Scott deVries

So the prospect of a little career showing up is kind of enticing in a way.

Steve Warner

For sure.

Jane Warner

Especially at church, which is what he loved.

Scott deVries

Right! You loved doing music and helping out and teaching.

Jane Warner

It didn't involve a lot of music at that point. I mean, you are already involved in music but the job part...

Steve Warner

It was a door in.

Scott deVries

The church was small enough at the time were you couldn't have a full on music pastor.

Jane Warner

And the conversation as far as it related to me was like, "Jane, how do you feel about your husband being in pastoral ministry?" And I was like...what?

Scott deVries

Never thought about that.

Jane Warner

Yeah, is this a deal? Like what? So I had no frame of reference. I didn't grow up in Evangelical churches so that question was like totally out of left field for me. Like what, what does that even mean? So I probably answered like, 'No I don't have a problem with that,' because I have no clue what that means. Right?

Steve Warner

Yeah, it is a fair phenomenon of a more evangelical setting where you see churches that have multiple staff. I mean even reading a book recently from a British author she talks about in the UK context the idea of churches with multiple staff has been largely a foreign idea they didn't even know what it was. It was very much a North American Evangelical, almost a mega church, but definitely an evangelical kind of mentality that has this sort of thing. So that's what, for Jane, just to underscore that thought is, you have no idea what you're sort of saying yes to.

Scott deVries

Right. Because Jane, your church that you grew up in probably had one pastor, right?

Jane Warner

And an organist part time.

Steve Warner

Yeah, the secretary, maybe, if you're lucky. So quite different. So it was very, very part time at that point. I mean, I think I started with maybe 10 hours a week. And, you know, it was increased steadily. And that was helpful for us. It's just as far as the income.

Scott deVries

Plus at the same time, the church was growing decently fast. At the time.

Steve Warner

That helped. Yeah, and I mean, in that point, I was really the only other. There was a second staff member, but he was kind of phasing out the same time that I was phasing in which I think probably allowed for some of the salary shifting to happen so they could increase my hours. Yeah, it was basically senior pastor, myself and a secretary.

Scott deVries

So those early years were they like...How excited were you at the time about what was going on? And I mean, the church was growing. There's always a nice feeling where, you know, things are happening in the early life of the church. It's kind of always fun. Yeah, everything's working. How did you feel the time? Did you feel any sense of, I wonder what I'm doing here? Or was it just kind of a, throw myself in - this is fun. I'm getting know people.

Steve Warner

I definitely would lean towards the side of we're launching on an adventure here, many unknowns. The one thing that was sort of a play was that, I think as Jane mentioned, in the early days, I wasn't doing a lot with music or worship.

There was a little bit of that in some administrative support. But I wasn't actually the person that oversaw the music department. One of the elders did; who was the main worship leader at that point. So I was doing some behind the scenes administration on it, but I was doing a lot of other people stuff. I mean, I was visiting and contacting people that were new to the church, visiting the church, meeting with them, talking with them. Other just sort of nitty gritty stuff that is going to happen when a church is very small. I remember cleaning bathrooms, and shovelling sidewalks, and, and for, oh, I don't know how long, probably a couple, three years anyways, I think I did a number of the deposit runs to the bank. Because everybody's doing everything, right?

You can't get too narrow, silo focused. And actually, like, I do think that's was a good thing, just in terms of getting a really broad spectrum of experience, right? But you had to have a little bit of a can't say no to any job. No job is too low. And I can't be, 'Oh I'm the music and worship guy. That's below me'. You just have to do it all and was all there. And I saw that, yeah, you're launching on this, this unknown great adventure. And we're, as you said, the church was young, growing lots of dreams and ideas and vision. And I mean, when I started coming the church was literally meeting in the original building that they had bought just that piece. Nothing had been it on.

Scott deVries

There was no additions.

Steve Warner

It was just the school, the original school which they had bought; a school house. Yeah. And it was actually the first addition that they put on happened between my first and second year of university when I'd gone home for the summer. So it kind of happened in my absence.

But every building project since then, I've been around and quite intensely involved in; in all them, whether it be in some design things, or certainly on the technology side - sound lighting, you know, computer, alarm systems.

Scott deVries

It's interesting, because a lot of people know you as the music guy, right, at church. And partly, because, I mean, I've only known you since 2005, your role at church has been that role. And so to hear the stories of you being involved in all areas, you know, especially a startup church where you have to wear all the hats all the time. It's interesting to see that piece that I hadn't seen before. Jane for you, Steve's, of course, getting a little more involved. You were used to - you go to church on Sunday and then you go home again - what was your involvement? Were you feeling a pull from the church to be more involved?

Jane Warner

We were asked to be care group leaders or small group leaders early on, which I had some reservations about. I probably had more hesitation because I didn't grow up loving church. Not that I didn't like it, but it took me a bit to trust people. You know, I had to get to know them. I didn't just trust them because they were there. I had to get to know them a bit before I trusted them.

There was another couple, young couple, that came on. There was a bunch of us that got married right within a few years of each other. One couple came on staff, and I'd had lots of conversations with her about how she was doing. More towards the end of their staff time. But, I can remember feeling very overwhelmed and going to the senior pastor's wife and sharing that I'm overwhelmed. That this is too much. I thought. I don't know how many little kids I had at home at that point.Two, three. He's gone, it felt like endless hours.

Steve Warner

Probably worth a little side note just that we have four kids, and they only have a six year span from oldest to youngest. So when they were all young, it was a very compacted beginning time.

Jane Warner

Right. So the expectation was, we're there when the church is open. Steve is gone before me all the time. Because he was looking after a lot of the music. So I showed up with my three little kids and my baby. Everybody ready, on time, sat in the front row. So, anyway, there were times when I felt overwhelmed.

Scott deVries

No doubt!

Jane Warner

In the expressing feeling overwhelmed, they did come and sit with us to help us chat through that. And one recommendation, which was kind of practical, was that I would drive Steve to work so that I could have the car so I could do all the shopping while he's at work. When he's home we don't have to do the shopping; which isn't the easiest thing with a whole bunch of little kids. Okay, well, I guess I can get some of that done. But the main thing that kind of shapes how you start thinking was to be told that I need to release my husband to do the ministry that he's called to. If I don't release him then he can't do what he's called to do. So, I guess at that point, we had an option, but if I wasn't willing to release them, that we pack it up and go do something else. But...

Ariana deVries

So basically it all came down to what you decided?

Jane Warner

Right.

Steve Warner

No pressure.

Jane Warner

Yeah. So if I can suck it up and carry the load, then he can be released to do whatever it takes.

Ariana deVries

Yeah, crazy.

Jane Warner

And at the time, you know, you think about it, but you don't really understand what that's going to look like 25 years down the road. What that does to you as a person. What that does to your marriage. You just know that the church is that important. And probably by that time, I had been well informed of how important the building of this church is. That other things...

Ariana deVries

...Were secondary?

Jane Warner

Were never said that they were second day.

Scott deVries

They wouldn't have come out and said.

Jane Warner

But the walking out of it and the implications. Well, and same for you, right, be right around that time?

Steve Warner

Yeah, I remember a conversation that was...at that point, there was myself and one other staff member that we're kind of an assistant sort of, you know, roll under the senior pastor, and the comment was made to us that our time was not our own.

And of course, I don't have a recording to play back the exact words, but that definitely was the point of the statement. And, you know, you can interpreted different ways, but certainly one of the interpretations would be you don't own your time.

And you know, I was really, really young then. And working in that setting was my first full time job other than other than summer jobs. So you're pretty young, you're pretty impressionable, you've been brought in given this opportunity. And you don't really know any different because you don't even have a broader perspective to what it might be differently other places; whether that be true setting or other employment situations. And so you sort of assume that is just the best way it's supposed to be, and, you know, it combines with lots of other philosophies or theologies of submission and authority in this kind of stuff. So there isn't really much opportunity for question or pushback on that. And so that's, I guess that's just our MO. That's how we're going operate. But that certainly sets the stage up for just some challenges in terms of finding life balance. And, I mean, like Jane said, this idea of releasing your husband. I mean, I said to her recently, that's an interesting concept is kind of a made up idea.

Scott deVries

Right. Yep.

Steve Warner

I don't disagree with the idea of agreement. I don't think that one half of a couple should probably plow into something without there being good conversation and a good sense of agreement between the two people. But the idea of one releasing the other one into the real calling while thry sort of carry on the regular life with the rest of the family is a bit of a made up idea.

Scott deVries

It does have some repercussions down the road.

Steve Warner

Don't even find it very biblically supportive. But anyways, that's another digression. But I think that definitely plays into some of the setup for what became increasing difficulties later.

Jane Warner

And that other couple, the other staff person he's talking about, was this other young couple that was on staff, and we had kids all similar ages, and they hit a spot where it was really affecting their marriage. And I knew that she was really frustrated and upset, many conversations over a long period of time, until they approached the senior leaders, as well, about how this was affecting them in their marriage. And that did not go well. And they ended up leaving; which was probably the best thing for them.

But you tuck all those things in the back of your mind. Like the wife made a stink. She pushed back, she stood up and said, 'Enough'. And what happens? They're gone. Okay... I've got four little kids at home, and I'm carrying the load. But what you do with that?

There's no place to make boundaries. And still be doing what you're being told God has called you to do, right? What you're supposed to do. So all along, we always had the option to stop. But, the other side is, if you don't emotionally have the option to stop, because you've been taught how important this is.

Scott deVries

In many ways you're stuck, because, I mean, Steve this is your first big career, right. And so it's a double edged sword in many ways, in making money off of the church situation. Because, in order to pull out, you have to also take an emotional hit, but also the financial hit as well.

Steve Warner

You're really hit on almost every level because the potential to say no, and step away is, you're giving up on what you thought was kind of a dream, because you felt like you're supposed to be in some kind of music ministry or church ministry, there is a pay check involved when you have young kids that's a very significant consideration, right? And then there's this spiritual slash theological side, which is a, you know, a fair emphasis on spiritual authority and submitting to leaders. And often that is strong enough that it doesn't feel like there's really room for questioning that.

Ariana deVries

And if this was the call of God on your life. When does that all of a sudden end?

Scott deVries

Plus, again, a growing church, it's hard to step away from because obviously, God's in it, right? God's doing something, so to step away is...

Jane Warner

...and there's so much that needs to be done that we have to lead by example. So that's why we're there for everything.

Scott deVries

So it's interesting hearing that you felt a little bit that way early on, because of the pressure that you were experiencing. But then experiencing that trying to step away is harmful. Well, it can be harmful. And so you, you stuck at it, you kept going.

Steve Warner

I think it is so strong on you that I don't even remember in the early days having questions, like a conversational question between Jane and I, that would entertain the idea that we might exit.

Jane Warner

So this is a boundaries discussion, which we just had a week and a half ago with someone who is a current staff member now, who expressed that when he had his another job at another company, you know, he worked these hours and that hours, and okay, on and on it goes. But when you're working for a church, you're both hearing the same thing. So when your husband or your wife goes to work at a company and they come home, the other spouse is not being indoctrinated that this is the be all and the end all. But when you're at a church, you're both hearing how important this is, and how this is God's work, and all of these things. So there's how do you create boundaries, boundaries for your family and your marriage, when you're both being taught the same thing in the same place and how important it is God's plan.

Steve Warner

Because it's not just a job or an important job. It's a call of God, job. So how do you say no to that? Or to what the job is calling or demanding of you? Because it's not just a job with a job description. It's literally the spiritual call that God has apparently led you to. So how within that framework is there any room for really a no? No, this is too far. No, this is outside, right. Just the boundaries, or the potential for a discussion of boundaries, kind of gets erased.

Scott deVries

Wow.

Jane Warner

Yeah. And we, like everybody, we knew what the issues were in our marriage; which we tried to talk about now and then. But...

Scott deVries

The church seemed to consume a lot of your time and energy.

Jane Warner

You're just...you're just managing. You're managing home, you're managing kids, you're managing church, you're...you know? It's not like we didn't see each other. We would go for breakfast. Friday morning breakfast since our youngest was in kindergarten still.

Steve Warner

And nor would we ever say now, or then we ever had a bad marriage. I mean, you have your times of struggle, or whatever. But, I would never look back and say we ever had a period of a bad marriage. Now, there was things that we sort of kept in un-talked about corners.

But just generally speaking, we've always had a good friend relationship. And I think we've created a home that our kids don't look back on and resent. But certainly there was some dynamics at play.

Jane Warner

We were definitely missing each other in some areas. That we tried to stand up and get help about in a way that we could. But, again, some topics are not necessarily good ones to talk about; you're behavior managed, you're whatever.

Scott deVries

Especially if you're managing everything, you don't want to introduce yet another thing to deal with.

Jane Warner

Right, and you're supposed to lead by example. So you feel kind of caught. And you can't put words to it, anyway. I mean, this is, what we were kind of going to say this up front, is it's hard to talk about those days, from the perspective we see now. Because we've gone back and looked at all this stuff and dissected it and found out where things went wrong. And, you know, how we could have had help in different areas; care for us over care for what we did that could have landed us in a different spot.

Steve Warner

It's not a, we're not looking back with an intent to try to point fingers at someone or someones, in any way. It's just more of a, 'How can we learn? How could things have been done differently?' More importantly, how could they be done differently, you know, so that there wouldn't be others that would have to walk through similar difficulties and experience some of the same pain or similar. The point is that it's our challenge now, and even in doing this, sharing your story, is just that you look back on these things through the lens of a lot of unpacking, and the phrase, which I think is so true, that once you see you can't un-see. So once you look back and sort of dissect a lot of things - seen some problematic and systemic things - it's hard to just talk about them without some of that unpacking still being in there. You can rewind to the story or the setting and the circumstances. You can't undo your brain from what you now think, and try to turn all that off and rewind your brain back to there. Because your brain is what it is now; with all of its learnings and experience and unpacking and dialoguing and reading and growing and seeing and broadening our perspective in many, many ways.

Scott deVries

We can't rewind back to Steve Jane from when I first met you. I remember, at our church, there was a concert where Hillsong and Russell Fragar came.

That was, I don't know what year that was, probably around mid 90s, which is kind of hilarious. But I remember seeing you playing piano on stage, and here's this up and coming Hillsong music thing that we were all super excited about. And that's my earliest memory of you guys, and the church that we grew up in. We can't rewind to those days, even those days are kind of fun.

Steve Warner

And that's before you were at this church, right?

Scott deVries

That was that was many years ago. That was our first connection.

Ariana deVries

That was just a visit that you guys made.

Scott deVries

Which is kind of fun. I don't know if you guys remember that incident. Or...it wasn't really an incident.

Steve Warner

I remember the event. I didn't know that you guys were there. I hadn't met you at that point.

Scott deVries

So you were employed since the early 80s, right?

Steve Warner

Early '90s. '92.

Scott deVries

Perfect. So then going into mid 90s, late 90s, the church was still growing at the time, no big expansion plans. They put on a big addition, I think, 2001, I believe.

Steve Warner

Around 2000-2001. That was the first big one.

Scott deVries

Do those feel a bit like forgotten years to you, all those years, or were there big moments that you remember around then? I mean, expanding the church's building at that point was a big deal. You'd mentioned being a part of that the two of you. Were you there helping out? The kids must have been growing up.

Steve Warner

The kids are starting to get more involved as they get older. You know, in those years, too. I should mention, there was a fair transition that happened in the 90s, which is where the leadership of the music and worship department did shift to me. So the mantle, quote on quote, of that was was shifted to me. So I wasn't now just an administrative support. I was actually the leader. So that was a big change. In those early years, actually, fairly early on, we ended up becoming assistant home group or care group leaders and then became care group leaders ourselves. Kind of all under the volunteer umbrella, which is an interesting discussion, too.

Scott deVries

So you didn't get paid to hang out with people.

Steve Warner

No, no. And, you know, the church's young, they need lots of people to do lots of things, but it can kind of add just to the overall load. For sure. And it's not that we would ever look back and resent the connecting with people. I think that happens in community. It's more the responsibility side of the leading; a lot of contacting people, that kind of stuff in addition to a staff roll that can definitely be a challenge. But yeah, as you said, like that was, that was a still big growth years for the church. And obviously, you know, growth, if it's going to keep happening in one setting is probably going to precipitate a building addition. Which is the next big one that happened with the new auditorium. So yeah, involved in lots with that.

Scott deVries

And Jane with you, at this point, Steve's been employed for a couple of years, and I've heard the phrase, it's lonely, it can be lonely at the top. Did you feel that you've grown up a little bit in the sense of community, smaller community in the Owen Sound area? And here you are in a bigger town, and then this church now is growing bigger. Did you feel like you were building a community around church or even outside of church at the time? Or was it kind of you're still in managing mode and just kind of getting to church on time.

Jane Warner

Probably a little bit of both, I mean, you're just kind of managing getting yourself to church. But, there were so many of us they got married right around that and so many of us had little kids that there was a lot of connecting I guess...

Steve Warner

But community was hundred percent within the church setting.

Jane Warner

Community was hundred percent within the church setting. Totally.

That was our friend circle and that's who we did stuff with.

Ariana deVries

That's all I knew - where your kids and all the other kids that age.

Jane Warner

So as mom's we got together, probably more than as complete families.

Ariana deVries

Yes. Mom and kids.

Jane Warner

Mom and kids. Yeah. Which was great. You know, you get to a point where kids are in school, and you're not getting together with people quite as much. And the whole building phase needs money, too. So I took an extra job to put more money into the breakthrough offering, because I didn't see from the budget we had how that was going to happen; that we're going to put more money into the breakthrough offering.

Steve Warner

Can I underscore that? She actually took another job to make money for a specific offering.

Ariana deVries

Just to give more money.

Scott deVries

Wow, that must have been 100 fold back to you.

Steve Warner

That's a fair signifiant investment.

Scott deVries

Yes. Especially because you still had kids maybe they were still at home or just at school.

Jane Warner

So they would have all been in, at that point, probably were all in school.

Scott deVries

And I should say that was a Christian school, run by the church. Which is interesting.

Ariana deVries

Church was everything.

Jane Warner

Yeah, church was everything. And again, at that point, my parents are living an hour and a half away. They start to need more help. So you're kind of caught a little bit there.

Ariana deVries

Did you ever feel, Jane, that what Steve was doing was more important than what you were doing?

Jane Warner

Oh, it always was more important than what I was doing. I mean, I made some money on the side. But it wasn't too far in - maybe, 5, 7, 10 years into his working there - that we were told there's no retirement plan. So you got to figure out what you're going to do.

And we were young, so we're not even thinking retirement. Now we're thinking retirement. But, we didn't like investing, so we kind of fell into vacation rental properties. Which made us busier. But it worked for us. So we were away Friday, Saturday, a lot trying to do this. But during that time, he would always be getting emails or texts and responding to people and taking a half hour, an hour here, which was very frustrating to me, because we have limited time, we have deadlines to get, and you already work pretty much every evening. If you talk to our kids, they would say that their Dad worked constantly, and sat at the table and not much communication from him during dinner. All of these things that kids know are happening.

Ariana deVries

Kids are very intuitive about these things.

Jane Warner

Very intuitive.

Steve Warner

The brain space is not on the family.

Jane Warner

The brain space. Yes. So we made our lives crazier, but you don't feel like you have an option because you can't work forever. So you need to have something set up. This was working for us. So probably when my kids were little and the moms were getting together, I had more community. As the kids are in school, and I'm working more and we're carrying more, you have less community.

Steve Warner

It's an impossible challenge for what community you do have to not feel like, Oh this is yet another thing to get into our calendar.

Scott deVries

Right. It's a check the box situation.

Steve Warner

Yeah, you want it and you know it would be good. But, wow, it's hard to fit something else. Because getting together with people takes time. And this is yet another thing to get into our calendar. And then we're supposed to also just meet with new people and keep expanding the circle. And that just can get really...

Ariana deVries

Basically no time to rest.

Steve Warner

...Wearying. Yeah.

Scott deVries

Oh, wow. So going forward, I'm just trying to think of how the schedule gets busier. Right? But you also have a community of either staff or people around you that are also probably doing the same sort of thing as you, right? Where everyone else, there's no retirement plan. So everyone's starting second jobs or other businesses. Plus, the culture of the time was, you know, a very prosperity focused belief system where, you know, God wants us all to do well. And so all that I think comes together and a little bit of a concoction which makes you feel like, again, you don't have any out or any say and in changing things. Which must have been tough at the time.

Jane Warner

Yeah, but you don't even notice at the time. And even people who weren't on staff were super busy. Like Ariana's parents. They were working and they were doing the church thing too, right.

Ariana deVries

They were fully volunteer.

Jane Warner

Yeah, that was fully. Yeah. The difference is we just didn't have an option in our volunteering. We didn't have an option to go to Christmas Eve service or not. You had to. The option wasn't there. Although, most people never opted out, even volunteers, because that was look down on. You're not all in if you're opting out.

Scott deVries

Right. So there's a moment in the church, and maybe that was close to time when we came around, where the church stopped growing. I think that would have been 2006, 2007. When we showed up. You can read into that. Huh. Interesting.

You'd been on staff for quite a few years after that. Was that noticeable from a staff or church perspective or it was just kind of...keep going?

Steve Warner

I don't think it was a big thing on my radar, at least initially. Probably because there is a distinction between no growth and no net growth.

Right? No growth is there's nobody new coming at all. No net growth is where you have almost as many people out of the back doors are coming in the front door. So it feels like you are growing because you have new faces all the time but you're not actually noticing the people that are not around anymore. And that is a for sure a challenge of a larger church is people can drift off, and nobody notices this for a long time. It could be the dynamic of two services. They don't see people at the other service. They don't even know they're not around. Or just the general numbers. It can happen.

I mean, I think some other things that played in for us in that same time period you referred to, personally, was, for me, in my church work, I was also in in that latter part of the '90s and into the 2000s, getting quite bit more involved in citywide type of stuff that was going on. Which I loved. It actually is probably one of the favourite things I've ever done.

Yeah, because I think to me It totally represents the heart that the church is not a given setting. We are a church of a region; the body of Christ. And how I think that that really should be as important as anything else. But that was, again, sort of a catch 22 because I love to do it, but you sort of have to fit it in on top of everything else you're doing. So, I mean, the early years it was some of the March for Jesus events and we started doing these lead up rallies to them where we have these really great nights of worship. So I was really super intensely involved in all that. The rallies on the day of and then they head off on the march. And people in the city loved the the rallies as much as the march. So there was a real push to continue those on so that was out of that what came the Arise for Jesus which was the predecessor to one of the Waterloo Regional Worship, WRW, and that was just churches getting together to worship on an evening and then that kind of hit an end and we just recognized it was time to stop and then a few years later came back in a new form as WRW which still carries on.

And I still really resonate with a lot of that because it to me as I said it just represents the larger the larger body of Christ but there is a cost of it because it takes a lot of administration a lot of organizing to do and it typically is on top of whatever responsibilities you already have in your right in your home church setting because you can't really put it under the banner of work for your own church because it's not really supporting the home church in any way No sir well least that's one way to see it I mean right i think it kind of can if we keep a broader view absolutely but even just from a logistical standpoint you know I'm Sunday services probably midweek service on Wednesday, Thursday night rehearsal, what if there was going to be rehearsal for a citywide event, that's yet another night again, right. The whatever it takes, the you don't own your time.

Jane Warner

That building this church is the most important thing. That's what it comes down to. And I don't think it is, in hindsight, it's actually not the most important thing.

But if your marriage can't come before that, if your family can't come before that, if your relationships with your senior leaders; if you don't feel that they care more about us than building the church, then how do we care for the people that we're trying to lead? How do we care about them, except that we need them to build the church? And that's to me where it all...

Steve Warner

It's not that you don't care about them, or you don't want to care about them. It's just that their contribution matters a lot. It matters a lot. So it becomes a lot of the focus, and you will invest your time into the people that are going to bring the contribution you need into your department.

Jane Warner

Which is where, over the years, we could point to a number of different spots where we just needed help. We needed somebody to care more about us than more about what we were bringing to the table, or how we looked at other people, or all of those things. We needed somebody to care about us. And when you don't have that, again, this is our stories from our perspective, I'm sure the person on the other side felt they were, and you know, that's okay, because what you don't know, you don't know. But now we can talk about it because we can look back and see it. That's what brought us to a breaking point.