Troy Murphy, M.A.C.E. ’02
OCCUPATION: Guest Chaplain, Green Bay Packers; Founder, Launch137, Green Bay, Wisconsin
LESSON LEARNED: Don't try to define God or yourself.
MY STORY: Studies indicate that the average person makes approximately four to five vocational changes in a lifetime. Troy Murphy is ahead of the curve. His past endeavors include pastor, youth pastor, church planter, United States Marine, author, Starbucks barista, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He currently runs an innovation/creativity firm called Launch137, serves as guest chaplain for the Green Bay Packers, and oversees the Fresh Clay Society, a nonprofit organization. Yet, Troy knows there is much more he is meant to accomplish. "I have learned that trying to define yourself and/or God is dangerous because it limits where God will use you. Early on in my life, I thought I would be doing vocational pastoral work for the rest of my life, but then God took me in multiple directions that absolutely blew my mind and expectations. I've learned to just go where God leads."
At 18, Troy's high school football coach led him to a growing relationship with Christ, and from there he was propelled into youth ministry, which came naturally to him. Troy enjoyed successful youth ministry runs at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois; and Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, California, during which he grew the quality and number of the programs exponentially.
During his time at Coast Hills, Murphy received a phone call from Jon Wallace with whom he had become friends while both served at Willow Creek. Wallace extended a personal invitation to apply to the newly launched Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.) Program at Azusa Pacific University. Troy followed suit.
While in the M.A.C.E. Program, Troy learned much from professors that helped hone his years of practical ministry experience, while providing him with a solid grounding in basic biblical principles. "You are much more intent on learning when you are out there doing the ministry," said Troy. But what he valued most was the kinship that grew between him and his fellow M.A.C.E. students. "The great diversity among our cohort drew us even closer as a group – we developed a type of family. Most of us still keep in touch and encourage one another in our ministry work."
After graduation, Troy was directed to leave youth ministry and sink his energies into adult ministries at a young church in Orange County. With the tremendous growth track they were on, Troy felt God challenging him to grow a church with the home group he was leading in their neighborhood. He led a church plant in Mission Viejo from 2002-05, which proved to be an enormously challenging task. "Church planting is rough, especially in Southern California because there is such a consumer-driven attitude toward church going." Yet, true to his ministry history, Troy grew the community-grown church, which he and wife, Tricia, began.
To better understand the community in which he did his church plant, Troy worked as a barista in his local Starbucks for six months. Through serving triple shot lattes and venti soy mistoes, Murphy gained invaluable insight into people's lives as they candidly shared about their spiritual moorings, joys and sorrows, and ultimate life expectations. "As pastors or church leaders, it's easy for us to sit in our comfortable offices and theorize about what people need in their lives. Church and ministry work must be molded around people – not the pictures we have of them."
In the spring of 2005, Troy and Tricia sensed their Southern California church planting season was done and they moved their family half way across the United States to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where they bought a rambling home on a forest-lined acre-and-half parcel.
But Troy had little time to settle into rural life. While attending his new church, Green Bay Community Church, Troy was able to deepen his longtime relationship with Senior Pastor Joe Urcavich, who is one of the Green Bay Packer chaplains. Through this friendship, Urcavich asked Troy to lead a few devotions for the Green Bay Packers as a guest Protestant chaplain for the team.
Through this newest ministry venue, Troy developed friendships with many of the Packer players, one of which led to the initiation of the "What's Your Brew?" outreach, in which root beer bottles with "What's Your Brew?" were distributed throughout Green Bay. This innovative ministry outreach, housed in a downtown jazz club, ran for four weeks and encouraged more than 500 people to explore what they believe and why.
The "What's Your Brew?" project, as well as his ministry track record point to one of Murphy's key giftings: launching people and projects. "I finally figured out that I have a knack for initiating projects and resourcing people. Once something is off the ground and stabilized, I need to move on to where God needs me next."