Voices of faith: Energetic pastor blends humor, common sense with spiritual messages

Tony McCollum is the pastor of Fusion Church, formerly known as Mill Creek Community Church. His down-to-earth and sometimes humorous approach to spiritual understanding have earned him a reputation for being both energetic and profound.

Since the first Mill Creek Community Church service was held in September 2002 in a Mall of Georgia movie theater, attendance has grown from 200 to 350. When the church moved from the theater to North Gwinnett High School, Fusion Church became the church's new name. It just seemed to fit the vision, McCollum said.

At age 41, married and the father of four children, it turns out "energetic" is a perfect adjective for this progressive-thinking pastor.

Q: How long have you been a pastor? How long at this church?

A: I've been in the ministry for around 20 years. I've been pastor of Fusion Church for a little over five years.

Q: How and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do as your life's work?

A: I received a call to the ministry while in college. I started my first church when I was very young. I eventually left the ministry for a while. I tried doing some other things, but I realized that there's nothing quite like being a pastor.

Q: Did you ever consider a different career?

A: For a few years, I owned my own consulting company. I did a lot of I.T. training around the U.S. for other companies.

Q: Who would you say was the greatest influence on you and your choice?

A: While in college, I spent some time abroad on a missions trip. I think that hanging around with the missionaries and seeing what they were doing has probably impacted me more than anything else.

Q: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your job?

A: It's often challenging to get people to really connect with each other in our fast-paced society.

Q: What's the most rewarding thing?

A: Teaching people the Bible in ways that they can understand and seeing God use that to change lives. Also, seeing people's faces when they understand something about God or the Bible for the first time is very rewarding.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a young person considering entering the ministry, what would it be?

A: I was told once that if you can do anything else other than go into the ministry you should not go into the ministry. I thought that was horrible advice then, but now I understand it.

Being in the ministry can be very stressful at times, and during those hard times you need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're called.

If you're not called, or if you're not sure, don't jump into the ministry. On the other hand, if you know that God is leading you into the ministry, then give it all you've got and never look back.

Q: What are your long-term goals as pastor of this church?

A: I hope to be at Fusion Church for the rest of my life. God has given me a great love for Fusion Church and for our community.

Q: Who would you most like to meet, and why?

A: Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Community Church and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." I've enjoyed all his books and writings tremendously, and his ministry has had a huge impact on my life.

Q: If you had to name one thing that's changed the most in Gwinnett's worship and religious trends over the years, what would it be?

A: I've only lived in Gwinnett for eight years, so I don't know if I've seen enough to answer this question accurately. I will say, however, that people seem to be wanting a more relaxed worship experience.

Q: What is your favorite Scripture?

A: Two Corinthians 5:19. "In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."

In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn't hold people's faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.

Fusion Church meets at North Gwinnett High School. To learn more, call 770-614-6152, or visit www.createfusion.com.

Each week, the Daily Post profiles a different religious leader in Gwinnett. If you have a suggestion on who we should profile next, e-mail features@gwinnettdailypost.com.