From Evangelical to Lutheran: Meet the Nunninks

Levi Nunnink is the newly elected Administrator for the congregation, who will begin in July. Suzanne helps with fellowship, altar guild, and the Higher Things youth group. They are joined by their children: Jack, Lily, Sam, Jane, Lucy, and Charlie.

Levi Nunnink is the newly elected Administrator for the congregation, who will begin in July. Suzanne helps with fellowship, altar guild, and the Higher Things youth group. They are joined by their children: Jack, Lily, Sam, Jane, Lucy, and Charlie.

My Dad was raised Catholic and my Mom was raised Pentecostal. Somehow this led them to Calvary Chapel, and that’s the tradition I grew up in and also where I met and married my wife, Suzanne. I was an “on- fire” evangelical in my teens and an exhausted evangelical in my twenties. It seemed the Christianity I knew was a mile wide and an inch deep. There were a million ideas and trends to chase after but nothing to rest in. It got even worse when I realized that I had very little “faith” to pass on to our children. There were a lot of catchy songs, intense emotional experiences, and some interesting ideas, but no core confession that would last from generation to generation. By my late twenties I was desperate and was seriously considering converting to Roman Catholicism, which seemed to have the sobriety, reverence, and tradition that my Christian experience had lacked up to that point. It was only through God’s grace that I stumbled across Lutheranism, and I discovered a church that seemed to be a miraculous answer to my search.

Holy Cross is a Lutheran Church in the best sense of the word. Early on in our transition to Lutheranism we moved a lot and had the opportunity to attend a number of Lutheran churches in a relatively short amount of time. Our experience was positive compared to our evangelical background, but also a little disappointing. Many of the churches seemed to be trying to adopt the evangelical style that we were fleeing; and maybe seemed even slightly embarrassed by their Lutheran identity. Holy Cross, on the other hand, is a church that knows who it is. It’s proud of our sacramental faith and piety. It embodies the best of Lutheran tradition, doctrine, and worship, therefore firmly rooting it in the great catholic tradition of the Christian faith. The people here care about theology and the Bible; they debate, discuss, and study our history and our confessions. From liturgy, to sermons, to catechism class, to pastoral counseling this church is not confused; it’s confident and speaks and worships with a clear, articulate voice.

C.S. Lewis once compared the different confessions of the Christian faith to “rooms” branching off from a large “hall”. The room that Holy Cross inhabitants with our fellow Lutherans is small compared to churches like Rome or Evangelicalism, but it is an incredibly joyful place where I am happy to raise my children and grow old. The secret of our little room is that we know Jesus is with us: he’s at the center of our worship, he’s the point of the sermons, he gives us his body and blood at the altar, and his promises his forgiveness in baptism. Holy Cross, in its corner of Rocklin, with our church members young and old, is one of the happiest places I can be.

On a final note, there’s an ironic result to approaching worship and faith with sobriety and reverence, making Christ the center of all that we do: we take ourselves less seriously. The saints at Holy Cross have an amazing ability to carry out the mundane tasks of church life (Sunday school, choir, organ, school board, member meetings, snacks and refreshments, planning council, painting, altar guild, etc.) with humility and humor. We don’t have to baptize everything we do in pious language (“I have the spiritual ministry of changing the coffee filters”) because we are already baptized by Christ himself. Some people have different words for this but I think the Bible calls it “speaking the truth in love”. I suspect it’s one of those things that naturally happens to people who take the forgiveness of sins seriously. Whatever it is, we’re grateful to be here with all of you.


- Levi Nunnink