For Pastor Chuck Ryor, weaving in and out of California traffic on his motorcycle is a normal, daily activity. “Contrary to popular opinion that it’s because I’m in a full-blown mid-life crisis,” says Ryor, it’s “because my kids all drive now and there is never a car around.” Yet, the image of Pastor Ryor on a motorcycle fits with his desire to minister to youth. At age 46, Ryor can say that he is “one of those high school parents who likes noise.”
Ryor discovered early in life that he had been given a desire by God for ministry, but this realization didn’t come without a few faith challenges. In his book, Three Tips for Campus Survival, Ryor described his high school years as “filled with many regrets and spiritual failures.” It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he became involved in a nondenominational charismatic church and met others who were “energetic about their faith.” This experience taught him that he needed a strong Christian community in college and helped him turn away from his desire to be part of the “in crowd.”
His high school and college experiences gave him an insider perspective about the challenges young Christians face. After his college years as a journalism major at West Virginia University, he started mentoring youth at a church in Maryland while also working as a disc jockey at a Christian radio station.
After meeting his wife, Caroline, moving to Florida, attending seminary, and starting an FM Christian radio station, Ryor became a youth pastor at Wildwood Church (PCA) and served on the staff for eight years. During this time, Ryor came to fully realize that God had given him “a hunger and desire to minister to people, especially youth.”
This propelled him into the field of church planting. He served as the founding pastor of CenterPoint Church (PCA) for five years with the mission of developing one of the few multiracial churches in that area.
When Ryor moved to California to pastor an existing church, he realized that his area of talent was in church planting. He took a year sabbatical after working as the Adjunct Communications Professor at Providence Christian College and then planted Prism Church in October of 2010.
He has encountered many challenges while planting Prism Church. “Many people don’t realize how hard it is to be a church planter. In the beginning, there were seven people in our Bible study and now, Caroline and I are the only returning members in a whole new group of people,” Ryor reflects.
He has also faced the question of how to build community in a church where all the members have known each other for less than a year. Chuck has found that some people are attracted to church plants because people have not known each other long enough to develop deep relationships. However, Chuck explains that regular attendees inevitable end up developing deep relationships through their involvement in such a small, new church.
Above every other concern, the mission of Prism is to reach lost people. “We do what we do to make the church accessible to people who don’t have much theological background,” says Ryor.
During the summer, Ryor relocated the church to a more suitable building just south of Colorado Blvd and Hill. Now the church can meet at the Chapel of the Roses in the morning instead of just evenings and can still offer a traditional church environment with stained glass windows, melded with a more contemporary approach to worship.
Ryor has remained enthusiastic about his faith and looks for opportunities to minister to people. He still has a heart for college and high school age students and loves when his children have friends over. Ryor and his wife frequently open their home for Bible studies, youth gatherings, and Saturday pancake and football parties. He wrote Three Tips for Campus Survival to offer advice on how to keep the faith while in college and used is own experiences to illustrate possible struggles and successes in the Christian life.
God continues to present him with opportunities to reach out to the lost and hurting. The most important attribute of Ryor’s life does not come from himself. He is saved by grace and he seeks to share this revelation with others.