We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Toney Salva, founding and lead pastor, Discovery Christian Church in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
Five individuals have impacted my life in the most profound ways.
I grew up without a godly male role model until I met Scott Reinemeyer, my youth minister. He taught me what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and discipled me through my teen years in Colorado. He baptized me into Christ and was the first to tell me I could make a difference with my life. I developed my relationship with Jesus because of Scott.
Clifford Wert, Dan McGrew, and Don Witherspoon were the elders at Christ’s Church of Oronogo (Missouri), where I served as children and family minister, my first full-time ministry position. They modeled selfless leadership, godly wisdom, and faithfulness. At the time, I did not know the impact they were making on me as a young minister, but 20 years later, now as a senior pastor, I still draw on their example and my experiences serving with them. I owe much of what I believe about godly leadership to these incredible men.
Brent Storms was the first person who called me to step out of the boat. We planted Harbor of Hope Christian Church together north of Boston, Massachusetts. It was my first experience outside my comfort zone. After three years, he pushed me out of the boat a second time and encouraged me to plant Discovery Christian Church in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
As a friend, he has walked with me through many phases of ministry, and as president and CEO of Orchard Group, he continues to inspire me with his steady and strong leadership and vision. I owe a great deal to Brent, as do so many of us stepping out of the boat in church planting.