Throwing a curve-ball is a talent many professional baseball pitchers possess. It’s a skill that many may have but the timing has to be just right. In the life of Rev. Ken Murphy, a curve-ball came at a very decisive time in his life.
Aspiring to play professional baseball, Pastor Ken was just about to sign a professional contract. Playing professional baseball was within his grasp, but a critical injury set him on a different path. According to an article written by Danielle Brenon, Pastor Ken has “always felt a pull toward ministry.” It was just the right timing for the Lord to confirm his Call to ministry. Settling for college baseball provided the right atmosphere and opportunity for Pastor Ken to pursue his college degree. Having studied briefly at Indiana Wesleyan University, he transferred to Oral Roberts University on a scholarship to play baseball and he majored in Christian Ministries. Later attending Asbury Theological Seminary, he received his Masters in Divinity.
Pastor Ken grew up in a pastor’s home in Lexington, Kentucky and later he lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The first call to ministry was in Rice Lake, Wisconsin and in 1998 he planted a church, which grew from a small group to a thriving congregation of 500 in attendance. It was in 2000 that he was invited to become the Lead Pastor at Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. According to the church website, Ken is a teacher and “His heartbeat and passion lie in the unfathomable belief that a relationship with Jesus Christ can change a life, community, and the world.” He loves to tell stories and provide practical, everyday Truths that anyone can apply to daily lives.
Ken and Serena have three boys; Jackson, Mac, and Payton. Jackson is a student at IWU and plays basketball, recent National Championship victors at the NAIA DII level. All of his boys are athletic. He and Serena have been married for over 23 years.
Pastor Ken is the Leading Pastor at Cypress Wesleyan, which is a church that is situated on a 110 acre campus and boasts a daycare, preschool, and K-8 Christian school. The church has grown to over 4,000 weekend attendees under his leadership. Each year he provides a number of interns and pastors with residency from Indiana Wesleyan. This church has multiple site locations.
His ministry effectiveness is measured by his influence and recognition. He has spoken at many pastor’s conferences around the nation. He has spoken at the IWU Summit Week Chapel on several occasions. Students have always remarked with words of appreciation and complements. He was recognized by Houghton College as Pastor of the Year. (A 45-year tradition at Houghton College.) “I saw in Rev. Murphy someone who would bring all the best in the historic Christian faith in translated into the terms of 21st century society, where so many people have either not been part of the church at all, or have written it off as irrelevant to their lives,” said Sheryl Mullins, Houghton College president.
Pastor Ken loves to share his faith with people. His heart is all about evangelism. It makes sense that his life verse is John 3:16 & 17. He shared that “Riding my motorcycle all across the country, I often think of the many that don’t know a personal relationship with the Lord. It rejuvenates the mission of my ministry and the mission of Cypress.” When I asked him about his greatest joy, his face lit up with excitement as he shared, “Seeing people come to Christ and hearing their stories before being baptized is what excites me most.” His recent addition to his blog tells it best, recapping a recent evangelism and baptism event, “I loved hearing Debbie’s story this past weekend. If you missed it, be sure to listen Debbie’s Story.”
Pastor Ken loves stories. In his recent sermon series he and his staff shared Biblical stories that are making practical application for those that hear his messages.
Challenges are part of the ministry as a leader. When asking him about his personal challenges, Pastor Ken shared a question for me, “How do you systematize the movement of Christ in your church?” He posed the question because he loved to see the Lord work in every person’s life. He explained, “Everyone has a personal experience in the Lord but getting everyone’s personal experience to work as an entire group is the challenge.” He offered his personal challenge as well. “I want to continue to remain sharp spiritually,” he shared. “As a husband, father, leader and pastor I want to remain faithful,” he added. One way he demonstrates the importance of this is in his children. “I take walks with my kids and ask them the hard questions. Recently my son, Jackson changed his degree of study at IWU. He feels a Call to ministry and wants to study Christian Ministries,” he added. He admitted that “it isn’t easy to navigate it all.” He shared that he works at being sharp spiritually as foremost in this quest.
Pastor Ken is a role model and leader in the Wesleyan Church but also to other churches. His interns and resident pastors will remark that they have had a great experience at Pastor Ken’s church, Cypress Wesleyan Church. This is a hallmark to the ministry that Pastor Ken leads. We recognize Pastor Ken Murphy as Pastor of the Week.
Written by Rev. Rick Carder, Director of Alumni & Church Engagement at Indiana Wesleyan University.