Page 6 of 9
Thinking for yourself. In an example from 1 Chronicles involving King David making a dumb decision, Johnston says, "David is getting ready to do another battle, and he starts thinking with human logic instead of spiritual wisdom, and I want to tell you that'll take you down every time. There's many of us in here today that are thinking with human logic right now."
By the end of the November 14 sermon, it was hard not to be scared of Deceiver. Leaving the church that day, my heart felt a burden -- and it wasn't because, as I left the sanctuary-gymnasium with hundreds of other people to make room for the hundreds waiting to get in, no one had stopped to invite me back. For that, I was grateful. But something else troubled me, until I remembered another thing that Pastor Jerry had said.
"I know how quickly life comes and goes. They were getting me ready in the back this morning, and I looked in the mirror and I thought, 'My gosh, I've got wrinkles everywhere.' ... Thank God for makeup."
Perhaps there was a little bit of Deceiver in Jerry Johnston, too.
Johnston has said that he wants to build "a prevailing church that will impact this city."
Before establishing First Family Church in 1996, he was a traveling preacher. "I could go speak two or three times a month and be fine for the rest of my month," he said in a January sermon. "And then the Holy Spirit began to deal with me and said, 'You know, that little blond-haired girl who's captain of the cheerleading squad over there at Blue Valley North? Jerry, it [her relationship with God] could be a lot deeper if you'd be willing to start a church.... I wanted all three of my kids to go in the ministry, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, 'Pay the price. Start a church.'"
Since we're stuck with him, I wanted to get to know him a little better. Hoping to do an in-depth profile of the man, we asked in early January for interviews. But Johnston's son Jeremy, minister of the media, turned us down. The church was unhappy with last summer's "Ministers Hate Fags Too" story, he told us, and disappointed that Kendrick Blackwood's article didn't include a reference to First Family's outreach to homosexuals. (If you're gay and don't want to be, and a conversion ministry turns you straight and this gives you peace, God bless you. We just feel those sorts of stories are best covered by papers such as The Johnson County Sun, which on January 20 gave lots of ink to that other, less-well-known side of Johnston's special love for gay people.)
Besides, the younger Johnston told us that his father was having misgivings about all of the attention he was getting and was trying to limit his interviews to those discussions about his ministry. "He's worried it's becoming 'The Jerry Johnston Show,'" Jeremy told us.
That same day, though, Johnston was giving plenty of interviews to local TV news stations from the anti-gay-marriage rally at the Capitol in Topeka.