Perry Timeline

So here’s a look at my life and family – timeline below.  Places we’ve lived.  Kids, parents, weddings.  School (a big deal with the Perrys).  And work.

perrys may 2017

Cheryl and I met in college – I first saw her and heard that delightful, raspy St. Pierre voice at a prayer meeting of all places!  We were in InterVarsity together but didn’t know it till we went to the same meeting (IV was a big group spread out all over Illinois’ huge campus).  I kept hearing that “Cheryl St. Pierre is moving to our side of the campus.”  Intrigued!  I must confess I don’t remember a thing that we prayed for that day in the meeting.  But I remember Cheryl!  No one who meets this lady ever forgets her incredible smile.  After 29 years of marriage to me – she still has that same incredible smile.  “She smiles so much, with so much of her face… even her eyes smile.”  That’s what my mom said after meeting Cheryl.

Perry Timeline

Perry Timeline

State Farm or Mutual of Omaha?

“Just like a good neighbor… State Farm is there.”  Remember that one?  The two towns my family has spent the most time in are home to these two insurance giants.  If you ask someone “Hey, what city is home to the insurance company Mutual of Omaha?” its a bad joke – like “What date is the 4th of July celebrated on?”  But far fewer people know that Bloomington Illinois is home to State Farm Insurance.  Cheryl and I spent 14 years of our child-raising life in Normal, Illinois (twin city to Bloomington).  22 Briarwood was home to the Perry kids as well as Dawntreader Academy.  Dawntreader was the name we gave Cheryl’s homeschool.  Cheryl graduated her first student about 6 months after we moved to Omaha.  Perry kids graduating from Dawntreader went straight to Omaha Central High School, one of Omaha’s biggest, oldest, most diverse schools.  Aaron and Phoebe loved Central.  Central loved my kids well, investing in their gifts for learning.  Phoebe just graduated from UMKC in Dance.  Aaron and Savannah are graduates of University of Illinois.  Aaron is currently working on his PhD in Aerospace Engineering.  Silas just finished his first year at Central High – the third Perry to have Mr. Wilson for Honors US History (a very big deal believe me).

The guild or the factory?

I’ve done two kinds of ministry work.  If you compare ministry to guitar-making (bear with me here) there are luthier guilds, and then there are guitar factories.  InterVarsity is a ministry guild.  Christ Community (and other large, commercial-esque churches) are ministry factories. 


A craftsman’s guild is a network of individual builders.  Here’s a brief list you’ll find at the Guild of American Luthiers  Plenty of them!  Probably not many names even most guitar players would recognize.  All of them, incredible artists with mad skills!  Of course factory employees are also skilled – machines can’t do everything.  But on the whole, a custom built guitar will have multiple times the energy, creativity, skill, attention to detail, and dare I say passion invested in it.  The materials used will be painstakingly hand-selected.  

I once got the chance to meet a world-class builder in Holland, Michigan – Del Langenjans.  At the time I was putting together an instrument from a kit – an Appalachian lap dulcimer.  It was so inspiring to have this guy show me an instrument he was working on and give me a couple of random scraps of advice.  Del would produce incredible guitars – just a handful of them a year.  Very, very expensive.  North of $4K on the lower end.

FA-100 AcousticBy comparison, you can have this starter guitar made by “Fender” in a factory in Guangzhou, China for $119.  Your average guitar factory worker in China makes roughly $1,000 per year (yup, per YEAR) and works on a production floor that makes hundreds of guitars per shift.  If you’re as much of a guitar freak as me, you’ll find these two articles on the global starter guitar market of interest: 

Guitar making in China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan by George Gruhn

Are guitars made in China of comparable quality?

From my 3 decades of ministry experience, guild ministry versus commercial ministry is just about as stark a comparison.  Mega-churches can be a matter of 3,000 to 10,000 or more people in a single ministry environment per week.  The guild… could be a tiny church of barely 100 participants or a parachurch group working with 3,000 people spread out over three states at 75 different locations.  Numbers, budgets, and goals are important to smaller churches and parachurch organizations to be sure.  But the guild will just never be economically driven the way the mega church typically is.  Great people with mad skills lead commercial churches.  Great people with mad skills also lead guild ministries.

Commercial churches do “make a good product” if you want to put it in those terms – the volume of good quality is undeniable.  I wouldn’t say that if it weren’t my own experience from the past 10+ years.  Yet, the mega-church alone isn’t enough.  The mission of Jesus will move ahead best with church and parachurch working well together.  As I return to the environment of the ministry guild, I’m eager to regain a sense of artisan camaraderie in my work.  We’ll see how this chapter plays out.  Time to dig out all those sharp knives and clamps I used to be so familiar with.

31% w. 17 Giving Partnerships!

I’m so grateful I have a terrific wife and brilliant kids.  Silas – thanks for helping me find Piktochart!  I knew infographs weren’t exactly rocket science, but was having a lot of trouble finding a free tool I could use.  Silas uses Piktochart all the time in school.

I’ll let the graphs do the talking.  The update at the bottom is also in this post below the graph.  I’ll post more about my work later, but for now to the uninitiated, I am a new (not really) staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  I began my provisional appointment with GFM (Graduate Faculty Ministries) back in March.  Before I can fully engage my job description as a staff manager, I need to recruit the resources for my first year’s budget.  Here’s how it’s going so far.

june-update_22873569_c2db96d005137e8cf7a2c0b06fa26136cedd1f9dWhen I first applied for InterVarsity staff last August, the application process required me to submit an initial prospect list of 100 giving units – individuals, couples, families or churches.  My MPD coach (Ministry Partner Development) urged me to expand my list and prioritize it.  I plunged into contact work starting the second week of March.

As of today (June 9th) after 37 asks I’ve been able to raise $30,517.  17 giving partners have sent donations and or pledged monthly amounts.  Another 17 are in process – looking at their budget to see how they can help.  The strategy is to find a combination of monthly, sustaining gifts as well as larger, annual or one-time donations.

I’ve been extremely encouraged with the response.  Progress is being made toward full budget at about 10% per month!  Thank you so much for your incredible partnership.  InterVarsity will allow me to begin using funds for salary when I’m at 70%.  Pray for me to keep making progress – my hope is  to be at 70% by October and at full budget by year’s end!  Stay tuned via on WordPress!

Need the link that goes to my support page at InterVarsity?


The Perry Boiler Room

My family and I live in an incredible 1929 arts & crafts brick home in Dundee.  It’s a small castle.  Eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, the booth, the computer room, the DDR room (don’t ask), the creepy room (I said, don’t ask) and the boiler room.  The boiler room is where I hang out with our water heater and our Peerless Cast Iron whole-house boiler.  It’s a space that’s 8 ft X 14 ft.  Its also home to my desk and a few bookshelves.

Boilers are great because they’re always tucked away in the basement where they burn like a blast-furnace.  Bertha (my name for our Peerless unit) ignites on cold winter mornings, bossed to life by the thermostat on the main floor.  The sound is a deep whooosh capped off by a polite explosion.  “Nice!  Bertha’s awake- everything’s going warm up in 15 minutes.”

File Jun 08, 5 39 58 PMMy hope is that perryboilerroom (PBR) will become like Bertha to its reader.  Maybe not exactly where you want to be sitting when she ignites, but a source of much needed heat in an otherwise cold, lifeless space.  I don’t mean warm in a sentimental way.  Sentimental warmth comes from things like vanilla sugar candles, your pet cat warming your chair up for you or (dare I mention) a freshly filled diaper!  Try heating your house with any of those things on a Midwest winter day!  Sentimentality isn’t what boiler rooms deliver.  I want PBR to bring some heat!  Too hot to touch at its source, but just right once it bathes the innards of your cast iron radiators.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out…”

This summer my plan is to give you some back story on my life and family.  I’ve also started a new job – details in the next post.  I’m currently recruiting sponsors for my work.  My hope is that each one will track with their investment here at PBR.  Let’s light this thing and see what happens!