Even in middle school, Mason Tanner loved Jesus and wanted to share Him with others. While still in college, he set his heart to run hard after God. Now, he’s the College and Young Adult Pastor at Riverstone Church in Kennesaw, Ga. His mission is to equip and empower people to go after their God-given dreams in the marketplace, government, arts or the ministry.
“I love serving and connecting people,” Mason said. “I love creating space for real heartfelt Jesus community to happen in order for people to see that the Church isn’t just four walls and a building, but that Christ is alive in people.”
Mason joined the Riverstone staff as the College and Young Adult Pastor in 2014, but Mason and his wife, Hannah already had a heart for college students. Prior to their official appointment, Mason and Hannah started the Dwelling Place ministry, targeting singles ages 18-35.
The Dwelling Place encourages young adults to encounter God in a fresh way through small groups, community events, weekly worship and ministry outreaches, both local and global. Mason and his wife have led mission trips to Scotland, Romania, India, Guatemala and Costa Rica. They also work with local ministries, such as the Salvation Army (Haven ATL) and Rescuing Hope to combat and prevent commercial sexual exploitation.
The Dwelling Place seeks to connect the younger generation to the larger body of Christ, resulting in community transformation. Through conversations and interaction, the older generation encourages and mentors the younger, passing on wisdom and insights.
“The hope is that by spending time and learning from older generations, Dwelling Place students would grow and that the older generations ceiling would be the younger generations floor when it comes to knowledge of and encounters with the Lord,” Mason said in a description of the ministry online.
Even as Mason leads, his heart is intent on following the ever-expanding mission of God. Mason and his team have been praying for new strategies to make the church a welcoming place, helping the un-churched find a sense of belonging even before they believe. Mason’s prayer was answered in an unexpected way.
On a Monday, a couple arrived at the church. Mason met them in the prayer room. Through tears, the man explained that he woke up that morning and realized that he’d never given his heart to Jesus. God prompted him to come to Riverstone Church to find redemption. After a three hour conversation, the man gave his heart to Jesus for the first time, and his wife rededicated her life to the Lord.
“This encounter was a direct answer to our prayer for those who don’t know God to find Him and belong even before they believe,” Mason said. “God does whatever he wants, and I just say yes and watch him work.”
In addition to full-time ministry, Mason is also pursuing a Master of Arts [Intercultural Studies] with a church planting emphasis at Asbury Seminary. He expects to graduate in May 2017.
“My heart is for launching and sending,” he said. “My dream is to plant churches and to help train and equip people to go out and plant more churches.”
As Mason juggles his family, ministry and school responsibilities, God has met him in the “in between.” Mason has often found that his papers and projects are an overflow of God’s heart and the on-campus weekends filled with God’s presence.
“The last two years that I’ve been in Seminary, I have realized there is such a grace when you choose your family and then your ministry,” Mason said. “I’ve learned lessons in Seminary that have prepared me for their real-life application.”
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