Get to know our Pastor, Ted Thornton, by reading a little about his journey:
I never wanted to be a pastor. I laugh at that now, but it's true!
I was saved at the young age of seven. I remember that night vividly. I was laying on the top bunk of the bed I shared with my brother, looking up at the ceiling fan I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to live in my heart. I loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him with all my heart. I was raised in church. We were there every Sunday and Wednesday. If there was anything special going on at church or with church we were there too. My mother is the most hospitable person I know, so if there were any missionaries or evangelist that were visiting they would always stay with us in our home. I played the drums in the praise band, was part of the drama team in youth group and went on mission trips. After me and my wife Kristen were married we served in church together. We volunteerd in the nursery, were youth pastors and college and career leaders. I even started leading praise and worship sometimes to help our worship leader get a break every once in a while. I say all of that to say this, "I knew how to do church!"
My wife told me before we got married she would never marry a pastor or a hunter and I was good with that, because I didn't have a desire to do either. You see, somewhere around my mid-teen years I had kicked it into cruise control. My walk with Jesus had become less of a relationship and more of just going through the motions. I didn't pick up my Bible anymore other than to take it to church. I stopped praying unless it was for something I wanted or a problem I needed God to fix. I started to play church and I was good at it, because I had been in it my whole life. On the outside everything looked great, but on the inside I had become spiritually dead. As a result everything in my life suffered; my marriage, my children, my work and my church. Then somewhere around 2012 I was at the end of myself spiritually. I can't describe it other than there was a growing uneasiness inside of me. It was at that point I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, "Are you done playing yet?". I responded with a resounding, "YES!".
It was then I surrendered everything to Jesus. I made Him the first priority in my life. I began to get up earlier in the morning to read my Bible and pray. I had to confess and deal with some sin in my life that I had been harboring for a long time. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart". I was seeking with all my heart and I found Him just like He promised. He completely changed me from the inside out. I was a different husband, father and employee. Then He did something I never would have dreamed of, He called me into the ministry. He gave me a burning desire to see others experience the same life changing power of Jesus through the Word of God that I had experienced. But there was one problem, my wife said she wouldn't marry a pastor! So I went to her and told her how I was feeling. I told her to pray about it and see what God was telling her. I knew if she was on board then I was hearing correctly. She came back shortly and said this is what we need to do. So we went to our pastor, which happened to be my father-in-law, and told him how we were feeling. He had been praying for a long time for an assistant pastor, because he had been handling all of the preaching for the last several years. He asked if we would be willing to take that position and we said yes. He took me under his wing and taught me how to study the Bible, how to prepare sermons and I could go on and on. We served as assistant pastors for about seven years and then in June of 2019 Pastor Rick retired from full ministry at the Courts of Praise and Kristen and I were placed as the senior pastors. It is definitely a place I can honestly say I never dreamed of being, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
When you surrender all to God, His plans become your plans, His will becomes your will and it's there that, you find real joy, peace and fulfillment. Seeing the lost get saved, leading people in their understanding of God's Word and seeing them grow in their relationship with Jesus is my greatest desire as the pastor of the Courts of Praise.