Rhett Barbour’s Story

I’ve been married for 7 years and have three children (Everett – 4, Titus – 2, Pia – 1). I currently own a business called Torch Prep, and we help high school students prepare for the ACT college entrance exam. I was a high school math teacher for nearly 10 years and have always had a passion for teaching. We live with and engage in a community of disciples just south of Cincinnati, OH.

I grew up so frustrated with God. Everything in my life that was designed to point me to Him instead left me with questions that no one wanted to answer. The answers I got from the people I trusted most were often weak and shallow. It seemed that everyone around me was going through the motions without understanding why . . . AND THEY WERE OKAY WITH THAT?!?! This led to me being an extremely jaded and dysfunctional 24-year-old believer who had trouble trusting God and anyone who spoke on His behalf.

So, at this point my wife and I had plans. We had lots of plans. We were each applying for international doctoral programs in our respective fields. We would travel the world. We would become professors. We would love every minute of it.

It’s crazy to remember that time in our life, because somehow we were fooled into believing that these pursuits were exactly what God wanted for us. As disheartened as we were with church and religion, we still served regularly, sought growth and maturity, and challenged brothers and sisters to seek the Lord more deeply. We found ourselves planning our lives and ignoring the reality that God might have better things in store for us.

It was in this state of frustration and selfishness that I was asked to partake in the secondever Story-Formed Life. In May of 2007, I walked into the Creation story. Within the first 15 minutes of discussing a passage I had read hundreds of times before, God spoke to me more clearly than I had ever experienced. For the next 2.5 hours I couldn’t focus on anything happening in the room other than my Father beckoning me to obedience. He pulled on THE thing I had most relied upon to control the outcome of our life and where we were headed. I fought it internally. I fought it externally. He won…on that issue…and my heart.

I think it’s important to clarify that SFL didn’t change my life. Maybe it’s cliché, but I believe it’s completely true—God changed my life. However, in our post-Christian culture, I’ve found that God really likes using SFL to unlock peoples’ hearts and shift how they understand Him. As a result, I regularly use SFL as a tool to set foundations for people who otherwise would continue living confused and unable to piece together the story God has been telling for centuries. I’ve been leading SFLs since early 2008. I love the group-driven revelation that comes from digging into the Scripture together weekly.

Typically, I will meet with new people for months and get a feel for their needs. Once 5-15 of them rise to the surface, I will start an SFL with them. From this, typically 2-3 people will show a desire for discipleship at a deeper level, and I will engage them in my family or direct them to another family to go deeper into the Lord’s heart.

I should also note that my immersion in the story has helped me understand parenting better. My ultimate goal as a father is to raise children who love the Lord and obey Him. As I’ve grown in submission to Jesus, I’ve recognized how imperative it is to train my children in this very principle. The language we use as a family is bent toward understanding the over-arching narrative and our role in God’s family and His Kingdom. So many of the weeks of SFL have direct implications for parenting, but the Adoption and the Church weeks most significantly impact our family narrative.


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