Lenhart's Journal

The Church of San Damiano

April 2006

The final Bible study had 20 people. San Damiano had a town hall meeting the following week. Andrew was concerned about Setser, and I suggested to Greg that we do a four-week series taught by Greg, Setser, Amy, and me. When Greg rejected it, I taught a Bible study on prayer to 25 people. I met with Scott Laue and his wife who attended Christ the Rock. When we had over 150 people in attendance, I felt like God told me this was as big as San Damiano was ever going to get. I spoke at St Norbert CRU on faith and had another meeting with Scott Laue and his wife.

Jay showed up, and we had a small get-together in Andrew’s backyard. I met with Jay and Andrew the next morning at Galvan’s. Sundance recorded Jay both times he preached at San Damiano, and Jay mentioned me during both sermons.

August 2006

I did my first blog post. (The blog ended up lasting for seven years and had over 1500 posts.) San Damiano moves to the wedding chapel and Andrew preaches. He does so well, Scott says he sees Andrew as the pastor because he is frustrated with Greg. Greg asked me to preach the following week and I did.

Each week, Andrew hosted three distinct groups at his house in addition to screen porch. Nicki was getting upset and Greg told me to help Andrew. My wife and I spend the month visiting and hosting them as a family as well as going out to eat as a couple.

While teaching a group of women, Laura does a live demo of Modeletics to help a woman and Julie says she wants to teach Modeletics. Jason Nate has three questions he needs answers to so I meet with him.

John Hammen tells Andrew to set up a meeting with me because he wants to debate me. Nine people showed up in Andrew’s screen porch to watch me dismantle all eight arguments Hammen had in eight completely different ways. One time I switched sides and Hammen argued my point and his joy quickly turned to confusion when I said he was right. The response that everyone was quoting is when I ended an argument by holding my arms apart and leaning across the table showing him the only way he could be right by saying, “Say God is wrong. Just say God is wrong.”

December 2005

Greg read the rest of book one and ended up preaching on both graces. I talked Greg through the second book and then I spent the second half of the month moving the family back to Wisconsin from Las Vegas.

December 2006

Andrew, Chris, Nathan, Joel, and Simon all go to CTR. Jay’s series begins airing, and Bill Lenz asks Andrew during a meeting if I’m an elder and if I’m leaving. Freddy (a close friend of Greg’s) snubbed Andrew at a bowling alley.

VMI says they want to publish Modeling God now that the ARE information has been added. Joel asks for a manuscript.

On December 10, Greg once again refuses to come to the screen porch. However, Chris and Dan attack Andrew and prevent anyone from coming to his aid. Andrew and Chris become so upset that Andrew leaves after saying he will never come back. Wayne and I also leave and stand on the driveway talking with Andrew and waiting for Nathan. Andrew went to talk to Greg.

For the rest of the month, the screen porch members wrote emails, and despite Nicki vouching for me to Chris, Chris and Dan were done and we decided to step out and let Setser help Greg instead of splitting the church over Greg not choosing a side. Greg and Julie told everyone that now the church would be great because the troublemakers left. We began a home church.

Setser had created the template for dealing with me:

  • Refused to meet with me because he knew he would be proven wrong

  • Accuse me of doing to him what he was doing to me

  • Spread this false witness to others (mob) that were sympathetic to him as a person

Months later, Greg and Julie told people we ruined their church.

February 2006

Greg asked me to preach with him on Super Bowl Sunday. On Saturday night, we sat next to Greg and Julie at Water City Grill watching Cory Chisel. After I preached, Greg said there was a great response and a lot of interest in my manuscript. Greg and Julie met me for coffee and said they wanted Setser to get along with me, and Greg wanted me to do a six-week Bible study using my manuscript. The announcement was made the next Sunday, and thirty people showed up the following Sunday night.

The next day, Greg called to ask if I would be willing to mentor one of two people who had been mentored by Bill Lenz who were looking for a mentor. After I said yes, Greg called back later to give me Andrew Swokowski’s number. The other person was John Hammen. Andrew and I talked and met for the rest of the month. The goal was to mentor Andrew for one year to be a team with Greg. The second Bible study had 36 in attendance and Andrew told his dad he hadn’t ever learned this much in one week. His dad (Wayne) was excited. I also met with Jonah after Greg introduced us.

January 2006

San Damiano was steadily growing, and Greg’s mentor preached the first sermon I saw once I came back. John Setser preached a traditional sermon, and it was very different from Greg. Near the end of the month, Greg’s wife (Julie) said she and Greg wanted me to come over to talk and drink wine.

July 2006

Several people are having meetings with Bill Lenz, and Greg seems to respond by identifying elders and calling them elders. I recommend Scott Laue and Darryl. Andrew, Christopher, and Laura were the other elders. Three days later we find out Tom’s Garage is closing, and we need to find another building. Darryl tells Andrew he will be a pastor. Dan is now talking with Bill Lenz. Laura is teaching a women’s Bible study.

John Hammen calls Andrew. A week later, he calls Andrew twice looking for help interpreting a dream he had, and Andrew tells Hammen to call me. He calls, and I interpret his dream to his satisfaction.

I had lunch with Scott, and we discussed a person’s ARE. I meet with Jason Nate, and he helps me understand how to set up a blog.

Andrew says Greg is getting squeezed, and you can hear it in his voice. That Sunday, Greg admits during his sermon that he has been getting squeezed over the last two months

June 2006

Greg wanted to determine San Damiano’s mission and vision, so he created the mafia group at the end of the previous month. He named it “mafia” because he seemed to try to do the opposite of whatever Bill Lenz did. Calling it a “mafia” was the opposite of calling it a leadership group. The group came back with the mission of “Growth in grace, love, and uniqueness”. When Greg was pushed for the definitions, he stated uniqueness was not John’s definition, but wouldn’t define it. Greg said he was a Pharisee relative to mission/vision statements.

As for screen porch, Christopher got married, and Nathaniel was available because he was done recording his album. Andrew continued to reach out to and meet with Bill Lenz.

Amy and Wes were leaving to start their own church and they were taking Jackie and Riley with them. I told Andrew that July would be his pastoring internship, and two days later, Greg told Andrew he would be preaching a sermon.

March 2006

Andrew spent each week reading a chapter in the manuscript and we would discuss it at Galvan’s each Saturday morning, and then he would teach it to his dad. Greg and I decided the Bible study was leadership training. I spoke at UW-Green Bay CRU on Faith. During a meeting with Greg and Julie, she said that one John (Setser) is jealous of the other John in Greg’s life. By the end of the month, the manuscript was making people uncomfortable. Andrew decided to side with the manuscript and see the mentoring to the end. Andrew knew Jay Baker and announced that Sundance would be coming to San Damiano to film Jay during his visit.

May 2006

Dan Wessel and Christopher Gold went off the rails during Jay’s visit and Greg realized mentoring helped Andrew come out on top. Jay gave Andrew’s name to a church in Dayton and I helped Andrew put his resume together and interview.

Andrew was in a group with Dan, Christopher, Wayne, and Nathaniel. Andrew was the one suffering the most and everyone looked down on him. Now, he was doing great and Dan and Christopher were trying to get him to stop being mentored. Andrew invites everyone to a meeting with me in attendance. When they block it during the week, Andrew drops out of the group the next week and begins his own group that will meet in his screen porch the following week. He invites everyone including me and everyone attends except Nathaniel who is recording an album.

Andrew is talking to Bill Lenz. When Greg didn’t have a Sunday night event, I went to CTR. Scott and his wife hosted the San Damiano Memorial Day party where Scott told me stories about Bill Lenz because Bill used to live next door to Scott. He said he believed everything was coming full circle for Bill Lenz with San Damiano.

I met with Bee Vang who said he liked the manuscript and said his belief was halfway between the manuscript and Calvinism. Jason Nate reached out and we met at Galvan’s. I have a 2 ½ hour lunch with Greg to discuss a leadership group he was creating.

November 2005

I met Greg Sampson for two hours at The Grounds Keeper and then attended San Damiano every Sunday that month. Two weeks after our first meeting, I had lunch with Greg and he read the first five chapters of the manuscript and wanted to teach on grace.

November 2006

We are back at Tom’s Garage and Greg declares us a church. Greg is given an open invitation to the screen porch and says he will show up but doesn’t. Chris and Dan want to know their ARE. Andrew and I completed Modeling God, but he wanted to continue to be mentored for a full year, so I gave him Atlas Shrugged to read. I helped Chris write a letter to his dad to begin reconciliation.

I read Setser’s book against spiritual abuse and realized he is doing to me everything that he said not to do in his book. When I tell Greg about this, he says that there is a reason Setser wrote the book. I shake Setser’s hand and thank him for writing the book.

While everyone was talking about the women being done with San Damiano, I gave Robbie a check for the album and marketing supplies. Nicki and Andrew discuss a coed small group. Andrew goes off on Greg. Andrew meets with Dave Vande Hey and he says we are onto something and asks Andrew for a manuscript.

October 2006

Amy and Wes are actively recruiting people from San Damiano to their church. John Setser’s wife shows up at a women’s group led by Laura and hijacks the group. Andrew calls Greg to tell him to get Setser off of me. Jason Nate is on Setser’s side. Julie says Setser says I’m cultish. Greg is talking to everyone about their ARE. I add the ARE to the manuscript and resubmit it to VMI. We invite Greg to the screen porch, and he keeps having an excuse. Greg preaches against people judging each other. Darryl’s wife tried to teach Modeling God to Jonah’s wife, and Setser stopped it.

I got $35,000 for the work I did. I told Robbie I would fund his album Long Gone. I pay for Christopher’s recording studio. We have Christopher’s birthday at Red Robin and present him with a hummingbird guitar. He says it is the happiest day of his life.

Greg has a meeting at Copper Rock led by Chris Bauer to come up with strategies for outreach. Setser and his wife attend, and they won’t talk to me. Nicki becomes upset at the amount of time Andrew is spending on the church, and Andrew wants to quit as an elder as he says the church is splitting. Christopher’s wife says she’s done with church. Christopher won’t attend Greg’s Halloween party. Christopher helps me go to the party as him.

September 2006

The day after the Hammen argument, everyone heard about it, especially from Nathan, Jonah, Christopher, and Darryl. Nicki told Andrew to stop talking about the manuscript and Christopher got mad. I hosted the Labor Day party without any manuscript talk, so Christopher refused to attend. Julie explains the power of the manuscript to Nicki to the point Andrew calls the next day to say Nicki is now supportive. Greg even plugs Modeling God during his sermon.

It was the one-year anniversary of San Damiano and people were realizing, as Jason Nate said, they weren’t getting anything out of church, however, Modeling God was able to answer their questions. Darryl, Julie, etc. were bringing their questions to me and getting answers.

Everyone is aware that Amy and Wes’ church was beginning to meet at Anduzzi’s. Greg began sitting next to me at church. Jason said we need to get Modeling God to theologians. Jason said he had three questions. Our meeting went over an hour and he said he was overwhelmed. Later, he calls to say he read the first half of Modeling God too fast.

People are saying Greg is a pioneer, not a settler. Greg says his mission is to understand what church is.