For more than 12 years, Phil Joel was the long-haired bass player with the contemporary Christian band, the Newsboys. In early 2007, Phil left the group to pursue a new ministry: deliberatePeople (www.deliberatePeople.com), an organization he and his wife, Heather, founded in 2004 to help people turn their passion for God into a plan to daily pursue him through prayer and Bible reading. MP talked with Phil and Heather about what the ministry means to them.
Your ministry encourages people to be intentional about pursuing a deeper relationship with god. what got you started?
Phil: We were living the American dream—a fantastic house, wonderful jobs, a new baby. But we realized our relationship with God wasn't what it should be. There wasn't any big sin or problem. We just saw that our pastor was far more passionate about God than we were. We wanted that passion.
Heather: We knew we could either choose to pursue that passion, or ignore it and continue on as we were. So we approached our pastor and said, "What do we do to really know God the way you know him?" He gave us a one-year Bible reading schedule, which we got excited about.
Do you do the readings together?
Phil: We do them at the same time in the morning, but we go to separate rooms to read, pray, and journal. At first the idea of regular Bible study terrified me—too much structure. But it's an accountability system that ensures we throw ourselves into God's presence every day.
Heather: Probably two out of every three days we meet together afterward. We'll say, "Hey, did you read that?" or "I wrote this down today—I really felt God speaking to me."
What are the benefits of reading and sharing together?
Phil: What's been fun and taken us by surprise is that, because we're married, because we're one, God will give me a certain part of the truth, a certain perspective on what I've read. But that's half the equation. When we come together to talk, Heather will have this other take on things that completes what I'm being shown.
Heather: It brings about a clarity and a broader understanding of what God's showing us. We've heard God speaking to us through the readings, showing us what we need to work on. We were so excited about the impact in our lives, we wanted to share it with others.
How has the ministry impacted your marriage?
Phil: I've learned I need to get affection, love, and affirmation primarily from God, not Heather. If we look to each other for those things, we're going to wear each other out. But if I'm getting them from God, I can serve my wife without wanting for myself.
Heather: We've become more of a team. Our lives aren't separate—Phil has his thing, I have mine, and we come together for dinner. We've got a unity of vision and purpose. We're on this adventure together.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.