Phil & Diane Comer
When the Jesus Movement swept through California in the 1970’s, Phil was a drummer in a rock band called, The Chosen Few. Within days of hearing the Gospel for the first time, he surrendered his life to Jesus, stumbling his way to authentic faith for about four years before he chose, once and for all to follow Jesus and be baptized.
Not wanting to return to a lifestyle that kept pulling him away from real faith, he quit the band and began serving in the only way he new how- by playing drums. Which led to leading worship, which eventually led to full time ministry as a pastor on staff at one of California’s first mega-churches.
That’s where Diane and Phil met. Phil— a new believer, with scant background of biblical faith— and Diane— also a new believer— with even less background of faith. By the time they met and married, Phil had already been a pastor for three years. Diane spent the next years delighting in serving by his side, finding her niche in mentoring women and mothering their four children.
For seven of their 38 years of marriage and ministry together, Phil traveled full time with international evangelist Luis Palau, leading worship and preaching the gospel all over the United States and the world. While the Church has always been the focus of their vocational calling, the entire family felt called to and became involved in Phil’s years of serving with Luis Palau. Those were rich years that opened their hearts to what God was doing through His servant/leaders all around the world.
In the early part of these years, at the age of 26, Diane began, inexplicably, to lose her hearing. The shock of that initial diagnosis precipitated a crisis in her faith, causing her to question what she now calls her “good-girl faith”. The resulting story led her into a passionate desire to experience intimacy with God in a way she had never experienced before. That story, entitled He Speaks In The Silence was released by Zondervan on January of 2016. In it, Diane shares how that rough road of near rebellion, and eventual surrender, taught her how to listen to a God who delights in speaking to His people.
Diane now hears with the help of a cochlear implant, a device implanted in her head that allows her to experience the sounds and understand the words that her ears fail to register. A medical miracle of grand proportions! From the moment Phil and Diane held their first-born son, John Mark, in their arms, they were shaken by the realization that they had no idea how to raise their children to know and love Jesus. The only thing they knew for sure was that they didn’t want their kids to only know about God. More than anything, Phil and Diane wanted their children to experience God as they had.
They searched the Scriptures for every hint of how to make disciples of their own children. They investigated the families of children who were obviously walking with God, trying to learn what they had done to entice their children to be lovers of God. And they read everything they could find that might help them in this life-long quest to learn how to create a family that honored and sought God wholeheartedly.
This became their highest calling, their top priority, their most important task: to raise their own children to become passionate Jesus followers who would in turn raise the next generation of all-in Jesus followers.
With deep, life-guiding conviction, Phil and Diane believed that more than anything else they might accomplish, it would be what God might do through their children that would make the highest impact on the Kingdom of God.
Those four children are grown now, with spouses and children of their own. Phil and Diane count as their greatest joy that John Mark and Tammy, Rebekah and Steve, Elizabeth and Brook, and Matthew and Simona have each chosen to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Their two sons have followed their father into pastoral ministry, one of their daughters is married to a pastor, and the other daughter and her husband are living on mission to their friends and fellow designers in the heart of Hollywood and around the world.
And now Phil and Diane have the unprecedented joy of watching their six grandchildren being raised up in a rich heritage of life changing faith.
In 2004, Phil and Diane planted Solid Rock, a Jesus church (now known as Westside: a Jesus church), in Portland, Oregon. Their son, John Mark, and his wife, Tammy, partnered them from the very beginning, in what became a clear move of God in and through the thousands of people who came each week. With half of the 6000 or more people being under the age of 30, Phil and Diane have been privileged to learn to adapt the way they communicate to a generation longing for truth expressed in their own language.
This movement has now become a network of churches that are similar but with their own distinct leadership and vision. In 2011, Phil passed the lead role on to John Mark’s capable leadership and expanding vision. Phil and Diane began to focus their sights on developing a ministry to the next generation of parents who were asking many of the same questions that had perplexed them all those years ago.
Thus was born, INTENTIONAL: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers as a way of teaching and training the hundreds of young people in their church who were now just beginning to raise children of their own. The elders of their church asked Phil and Diane to put together a conference for this purpose, both for the AJC family of churches, and for any other churches that might share the need and desire to enable parents to train their own children to love and follow Jesus.
Their own church embraced this conference with such enthusiasm that they filled the first session with hundreds of parents, turning people away and quickly rescheduling a second event to accommodate all who wanted to listen and learn. Phil and Diane recognized the pressing need for focused teaching in the spiritual training of children. They have decided to completely dedicate the next season of their lives to focus on this task of training parents.
While remaining embedded in Westside: a Jesus church, Phil and Diane have, thus far, accepted invitations to five countries on five continents and to numerous churches around the United States in order to teach Intentional: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers.
The Apostle John said this: “I have no greater joy than this; to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Phil and Diane believe that the joy they have experienced in seeing all four of their kids passionately follow Jesus is possible for every family. They want to help as many parents as possible experience this great joy of seeing their own children go after the truth found only in Jesus.
Combining forty years of pastoral experience, Biblical instruction, and lessons learned in their own story, Phil and Diane bring parents hope and the practical help they need to accomplish their God-given task of raising children who will walk with God in vibrant faith.