Meet the Staff
Staff members of Brookwood Community Church enjoy serving the congregation and equipping attendees and members to grow as followers of Jesus. Here are brief biographical sketches of our staff. They would love to get to know you better.
Rob O’Neal, Senior Pastor
Rob and his wife, Tammi, moved to the Twin Cities in 2007 with their boys, James and Jo. Rob is a graduate of Stetson University (BA, ’92), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div., ’95), and Fuller Theological Seminary (D.Min., 2012).
The O’Neals are huge fans of game nights (particularly Settlers of Catan), the kids’ sports, movies, and hanging out with friends. Rob’s favorite things are running, Cities 97, dark roast coffee with cream, and Kohl’s.
Favorite Spot: Artist’s Point at Grand Marais
Restaurant Pick: Wildfire
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Rob O'Neal's FaithStory
When I was in the second grade, I went camping with a group of boys from my church. That night around the campfire, our leader told us that Jesus is God’s Son. He told us that we had all sinned, and that made perfect sense to me. I had two brothers, we fought all the time, and I could probably list a half dozen sins I had committed earlier that day. Then our leader told us that Jesus had died so that our sins could be forgiven, and that sounded like a great idea to me. But then our leader said, “Unless you ask Jesus into your life, and unless you ask Him to forgive you for your sins, you don’t have Jesus in your life.”
Up to that point, nothing our leader said had been a surprise to me. I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday. I had heard it all before. But until that day, I just assumed that God was with me and that He loved me. After all, what’s not to love about me? That night I discovered that God does indeed love me, that Jesus died for me and that God wanted to be a part of my life. Later that night when our leader asked if any of us wanted to invite Jesus to be our Savior, I raised my hand, because I didn’t want to spend one minute separated from God. I prayed with our leader, accepted God’s forgiveness, and began following Jesus.
When God is in charge, though, it seems that at every stage of your life there are new things that you have to turn over to God, and there are new ways that God shapes you. At each of these stages, you have the chance to know God better and see even more of how amazing He is. I remember it happened when I was a teenager. I was in junior high, and I was miserable . I remember clearly one night getting down on my knees by my bed and praying to God. I prayed, “God, if you want me to live, then something is going to have to change. I am going to have to live for you.” And I turned something more over to Him that night.
Here’s the amazing part. God put life into me. I am not saying that God made everything easy from that point forward. But I knew then that God was with me, so I could press on. Somehow I had found that I could live for God, and that thought helped me get through some dark days.
As an adult I keep trying to take my life back from God. When I was in junior high and miserable, it was kind of easy to turn my life over to God. He couldn’t make a worse mess out of it than I had. But as I became an adult and started to get good at a few things, I kept finding myself taking control and trying to do things myself. In college, I thought I was smarter than God. Well, maybe not smarter than God. But I certainly started to think that I understood the Bible better than the people who wrote it. That led me down some bad paths, and God had to shake me in order to get my attention and draw me back to Him.
When I started in ministry, I followed my agenda instead of asking God what He wanted me to do. God had to step into my life again, shake me and get my attention. Since then I’ve had to learn that God even has a plan for how I am supposed to be a husband and a father, and sometimes His plan is different from mine. But here’s the good thing—every time I let go and follow His plan, He shapes me and shows me how good He is.
Jason Maloney, Student Ministries Pastor
Jason and his beautiful wife, Kari, live in Eden Prairie, MN. He is a graduate of Crown College (BA, Pastoral Leadership) and is pursuing his Master of Divinity at Bethel Seminary. Jason likes dark roast coffee, reading, traveling, and cheering on the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Reds.
Favorite Spot: Howth Head in Dublin, Ireland
Restaurant Pick: Red Cow (or anywhere with a quality burger)
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:37-39: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jason Maloney's FaithStory
The process of refining metal has always fascinated me. I am intrigued that fire and heat can be used to melt away impurities in gold or silver, actually making it stronger, more valuable, and ultimately, more beautiful. I am also grateful that God refines us through the joys and difficulties of life.
I gave my life to Jesus and started trusting him at a Father-Son camp with my Dad and brother at the age of 5. This was the start of an amazing journey with God that has included many opportunities to be purified. I grew up with loving parents that taught me the Bible and made it a priority to spend time with God. They were also involved in a loving Christian community, in which I was immersed. I grew up knowing all of the “answers” in Sunday school and summer camp. Life as I saw it was pretty good and strong, but I wasn’t prepared for the fires that would come.
Throughout high school, I underwent two different surgeries on my feet and one on my hand. This took me away from basketball and tennis – two sports that I have played since I could remember. At first I questioned God’s plan in this, but through the process of sitting out, God refined me in showing me that those sports and my athletic ability had become my identity. I had asked for God to reveal Himself to me during this time and he did through Scripture and a loving community. He surrounded me with people who encouraged and loved me through these trials and he began to put His Word into my life again. During this time, Job 23:8-10 rang true in my mind. It says, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” I realized through this passage and the book of Job that this life isn’t mine to live for myself, but rather a life to live for God. I was the gold that was being refined and am a precious metal to the refiner. The reasons for why these medical ailments were happening were not as important as the response I needed to have towards God in the refining process.
God was always with me during my time of pain and frustration. Knowing the truth of God’s Word helped me later when I suffered concussions each year from my junior year of high school to my freshman year of college, all from ultimate Frisbee! I didn’t know Frisbees could be so dangerous!! Though these times presented similar struggles to my surgeries in the past, I knew that God was with me and that through whatever circumstances, he would work for my best and ultimately, for his glory.
God has also refined me through the joys of life, including meeting my bride-to-be, Kari Nelson in the summer of 2012; we have been able to minister together since then, which has been an amazing gift and joy to me. God has also refined me through the preparation for ministry. Ever since eighth grade, I have wanted to be in ministry, and God has provided in every step of the way, laying before me ministry opportunities that would solidify my call. I am thankful for the many ways that God has refined me through the blessings He has given me.
In the fall of 2014, an unexpected refining moment occurred. I had just started seminary and was in the Kern Scholarship program. I loved my first month of seminary, knowing that this was where God wanted me to be. Then on October 14, I was hit from behind in my car by a driver who was not slowing down because he was looking at his phone. Kari rushed me to the hospital and I was diagnosed with my fourth concussion. I spent two and a half weeks lying in my bed in a dark room eating unsalted nuts and blueberries – a lifestyle similar more to a bear in hibernation than a 22 year old seminary student. I was completely out of work and school for 5 weeks and through this time, I sought the Lord – hadn’t God called me to seminary? Weren’t my medical struggles over? Hadn’t I gone through enough? But, as always, God gave me incredible peace through the process and provided all that I needed during that time, including many opportunities to trust in Him and opportunities to grow closer to Kari through this trial. About two years later, I am still in seminary, at an amazing new job, and am marrying the love of my life in 28 days. God is good and his refining process, while sometimes seemingly harmful, has been the most beautiful thing in my life. To God be the glory.
Holly Kapla, Children’s Ministry Director
Holly and her husband, Drew, moved to the Twin Cities in 2004 after college graduation. They currently live in Shakopee with their two children Addison and Zachary. Holly is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point.
Holly loves black coffee, running, spending time with family and friends, reading, and watching most TV series on HBO. The whole Kapla family are very big Green Bay Packers fans.
Favorite spot: Door County in the fall
Favorite Restaurant: Kona
Favorite Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Holly Kapla's FaithStory
I have considered myself a Christian for as long as I can remember. I have never doubted the existence of God or that Jesus Christ is his son, born of Mary and that he died on the cross for our sins, and rose again. These facts have always been undeniable to me, however, being a good person and doing the “right thing” was all I believed He required of me during my time on Earth and what I needed to do to go to Heaven.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I was a Christmas and Easter Christian… not even really. I was working 50-60 plus hours a week and I just didn’t have time for anything else I told myself. The whole “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian” thing was my excuse. It wasn’t until 2006 when I was pregnant with my first child, Addison, that I began to feel like it was important for us to join a church. I wanted my child to have a strong faith, and I was pretty sure that it was the church’s job to do that for me. We joined a church and stayed for about two years, but once our Addison was old enough to start going to Sunday school, I discovered that the program they offered was not what I was looking for, for my kids.
After Zac was born, I had a very hard time adjusting to life with two kids. I felt so inadequate, yet refused for over a year to ask for help. These were MY children. This is what I signed up for. It was MY responsibility to take care of them, keep the house clean, and be happy doing it. The more and more I tried the harder and harder it was for me… I was in a downward spiral.
In 2009 I started attending MOPS at Wooddale Church and was introduced to a completely different side of Christianity. It was exactly what I needed in this difficult time of life. Through God’s word and the faithful love of my husband, Drew, I began to seek help and healing.
MOPS was such a blessing to me… I was learning so much. My relationship with Jesus could be personal? Jesus desired time alone with me? He has a purpose, and that purpose includes me in a very specific role? These were all completely new ideas and I began to desire to learn more about God. I wanted to study His word… I realized that His word, all of it, applied to my life and I very much wanted to know what his purpose for me was.
After starting to attend Brookwood in 2011 I began to feel like this was where God wanted me to be… for the first time in my life I didn’t want to rush into anything though. I wanted to slow down, look around, and listen. After about 6 months I felt like it was time to start volunteering, and like with my developing relationship with Jesus, I couldn’t get enough Brookwood. I was in love, head over heels, for Brookwood and I felt a strong pulling to be as involved as possible in helping my Church.
My life began to change, slowly at first, but then started picking up speed. I began to re-prioritize my time and things that had previously been very important to me suddenly became less important. I prayed often for God to show me what I should do for work when it became time for me to go back and a strange calm came over me when it came to this crisis… I couldn’t tell Drew what I was going to do, but I had a very strong feeling that I was supposed to just listen and wait and that God would show me… I just needed to keep my eyes and ears open. I am not a patient person, so this was a very strange situation for both me and Drew… he couldn’t understand this attitude of leaving it in God’s hands, and not actively pursuing something, but if he was frustrated with me, he kept it to himself. I believe that God was working on his heart as well, and working through me to show Drew what faith looked like.
When anyone would put me on the spot, and ask if I could do anything, what would it be? I would always say that I would like to work for Brookwood in some capacity… Being away from my family, for work, was hard to imagine, but I knew that whatever I did had to be something that was worthy of that time… and what better way than to work within my Church, serving my Church family and community?
When the Children’s Ministry position opening came to my attention I almost laughed out loud. “Ok God, I hear you loud and clear. This might not be “it” but You are definitely opening a door for me and it is my job to stand up and walk through it.”
When I look back at the last year and a half, and everything that has happened I see a blessed journey that had a clear purpose. Had I not re-prioritized my life, I would not have been ready to consider working outside the home, let alone been able to actually pursue it. Had a I gone back to school for teaching like I had told Drew I was going to starting this fall, there is no way I would have been able to take on anything else… I would have been stuck. I knew I was supposed to sit back and wait, and the fact that it was so uncharacteristic of me was how I know it was God’s wish.
I am so excited to be in a position where I can be doing great things and working with wonderful people as my job, is more than I could have ever hoped for.
David Dickman, Go Ministry Director
David and his wife, Krista, live in Shakopee along with their two daughters, Macy and Kate. David is currently employed by UnitedHealthcare in Minnetonka. In the Dickmans’ spare time they enjoy spending time up north at the cabin, hunting, fishing and watching the Packers.
Favorite Spot: “Up North”
Restaurant Pick: Fogo De Chao
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalms 56:4 “I trust in God, I praise his word. I trust in God. I will not be afraid. What can people do to me?”
David Dickman's FaithStory
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents came from different denominations, Catholic and Assembly of God. They compromised and my brothers, sister, and I were raised going to a Lutheran church where we learned all the traditional Bible stories and were confirmed. My family did devotions each morning and attended church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings. I was surrounded by church activity, community, and worship opportunities. My relationship with Jesus really started at a young age when my Dad asked if I wanted Jesus in my heart and prayed with me.
Some of my most meaningful experiences were when my grandpa would take me up to the altar to pray over me. My grandpa was an amazing Christian man. I loved his unadulterated devotion to Christ and his easy-going personality. Grandpa never seemed to worry or get mad as he always knew God was in control.
In high school, God was still a part of my life but I did not live devoted to him. I applied to Bethel College (now University) in St. Paul because of their strong football program and how classes and activities centered on Christ. Little did I know that choice would change my life. Being surrounded by young men and women of faith would help me be accountable in my faith. The Bethel community helped me realize what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus – that it’s not just about knowing Bible and Christianity facts. I rededicated my life to Jesus while at Bethel and continue to build this relationship.
I know I am blessed to have been inundated with Christ-like role models and community my entire life. God’s presence throughout my life is evident when I reflect on my relationships with Christ, my family, wife, kids, and friends.
John Heckel, Operations Director
John and his wife Jonda have lived in Shakopee since 2001 along with their three daughters, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Sarah. John graduated from South Dakota State University with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Physics. He currently is employed by The Toro Company.
The Heckel family enjoys camping and time together as a family. In his spare time, John enjoys hunting, bicycling, and tackling home projects.
Favorite Spot: Sitting around a campfire.
Restaurant Pick: Cold Stone Creamery (although not a restaurant, its good J)
Favorite Verse: 1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
John Heckel's FaithStory
Our family moved to Shakopee in 2001 and started attending an evangelical church for the first time. It was also the first time we had heard what I would consider true biblical preaching. I was challenged to accept Christ as Lord of my life and to deepen my faith through studying God’s word. After a couple years of growing spiritually and personally, I was asked to manage the finances of the church. During the next 9 years, this small church plant went through growth and also decline. Obviously, during the decline, many difficult financial decisions were made. I remember carrying significant financial stress and burden of the church. Many times, I felt as if I had let the church down. However, during this difficult situation and eventual closing of the church, I was greatly humbled and realized it was outside of my control. Through the wise counsel of my pastor and bible study, I came to realize that as the church’s treasurer, I was entrusted to manage the financial provision given to the church, regardless if it was large or small. Likewise, the same lesson also carried over to my personal life. I am entrusted by God to manage the finances He has provided our family, however large or small. In addition, none of our possessions are really ours, everything we have is God’s. Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. 1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. This was profound for me. Once I realized I was managing someone else’s money, giving it away was much easier. You need to realize that before I accepted Christ, I felt obligated to give $20 each time we attended church, nothing more. I considered my frugalness was a way to help save more for retirement, but never as a means to glorify God or bless others. In fact, I was often resentful any time our church requested pledges for fundraising. However, as I began to dive deeper into scripture, I quickly realized we were blessed by God and in turn we can be a blessing to others as well as fulfill our responsibility to the local church. Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. These and other passages spoke directly to me. As a result, with the support of Jonda, we gradually progressed to the point of tithing. This was a big change from $20 a week. Most of you probably know, but tithing isn’t just another term for giving. Tithing, by definition, means giving one tenth of your income. Under Mosaic law, Jews were expected to give the first ten percent of their income or crops. Hence it was also called the first fruits. Why should I have expected anything less? Just as God wants my time and life to be prioritized for Him, he also wants my finances to be prioritized for Him. He expects more than just my leftovers. However, God wasn’t done changing the financial priorities in my life. In addition to tithing, we have been able to use his provision to fund the adoption of our daughter, give anonymous gifts to local families, sponsor children in 3rd world countries, and provide annual gifts to Christian organizations that minister to the poor and lost. The decision to put God as a priority in our financial life hasn’t always been easy or popular with our children. It has required discipline on our part. There are countless times that I have declined invitations to eat out with friends against the wishes of my children. In addition, we often need to resist envy, postpone purchases, and prioritize items in our budget. While difficult at times, I believe this has benefited my children in many ways such as 1) learning the difference between needs and wants and 2) seeing them put serving and giving as a priority in their own lives. In addition, as stated in Malachi, the Lord will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing”. I am not suggesting that God will reward my family financially for this change in priority. However, I do believe His blessing often comes in the joy we receive as we glorify God with our finances. I also find joy in knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of many. Take a second and imagine how Shakopee, the United States, and this world would change if all Christians tithed? According to a 2013 article in Relevant magazine, if just Christians in the United States tithed, there “would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal.” Here’s just a few things the Church could do with that kind of money: • $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years. • $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years. • $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day. • $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work. • Over $100 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion. • Those are some amazing numbers” Imagine the spiritual impact we would make? Imagine how the Christian faith would be viewed across the world. Imagine how God would be glorified? Over the days, weeks and months ahead, I ask you to prayerfully consider how God and the Holy Spirit may be prompting changes in your priorities. It may not be evident right away, but you may find challenging but rewarding changes in your future. John Heckel 03/08/2014
Matt Klein, Worship Arts Director
Matt moved to the Twin Cities in 2008. He is a classically trained pianist and cellist, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in piano from the University of Northern Iowa. Matt joined his first worship band in sophomore year of high school, and eventually served as a staff worship leader at two local churches before relocating to Minnesota.
Matt enjoys songwriting, playing video games, and hanging out with his wife, Megan, and dog, Jack. Matt is also a political and sports
nerd, cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Vikings, and Cleveland Indians.
Favorite Spot: Golfo de Nicoya, Costa Rica
Restaurant Pick: Fat Lorenzo’s
Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Matt Klein's FaithStory
My faith journey could easily be called “A Tale of Two Lives.” There is the surface image: a staff worship leader for nearly six years, a volunteer member of worship bands for five years prior, and a lifelong follower of Jesus. That is the version of which most people are aware. For several years, however, there was a less desirable story lurking underneath.
I committed my life to Christ when I was 12 years old, while attending a church in Oskaloosa, Iowa. I had (and have) always been taught the standard, valuable life lessons by my parents: love God, respect others, and always put family and friends first. It was a natural and wholehearted progression to follow Christ myself, as I had learned from watching my family throughout my entire life. As I began to uncover what gifts and strengths God had blessed me with, I felt drawn to worship music; I joined my first worship band as a sophomore in high school. Ideally, the story would paint a rosy portrait from here; unfortunately, that is not the case.
During my junior year of high school, I took a course which discussed the origin of man, the universe, and human life in general. While taking this course, I became convinced that human life existed by chance, that no deity was present in our world, and that (most laughably) I was too intelligent to be a Christian. I remember how much easier that path seemed to be – my actions were only accountable to myself – and how empty church felt each Sunday as a result of my decision.
Several months later, during a sermon regarding the courageous stories of former believers, I came to an abrupt realization: far smarter people than me believed in God, and were committed followers of Christ. This reality check, simple as it was, prompted my return to following Jesus. Over the next year, another thing became abundantly clear: God was, and had been, calling me into worship ministry. After two additional years of volunteer worship service, I accepted my first staff worship calling in 2003, as a junior in college.
That is not to say, however, that my life has been perfect since then. While studying piano at the University of Northern Iowa, I fell intermittently to the same temptations that knock at the door of other young men – selfishness, women, alcohol and other things of that nature. Overcoming these burdens was a gradual, but necessary, process that ultimately left me more prepared to encounter nonbelievers in daily life, and defeat additional temptations as they arise.
In the past few years, God has revealed Himself to me in some amazing ways. Following completion of my music degree in 2005, I continued to serve at a local church in Iowa, and began an additional career in the client service industry. During this time, I began to sense that God was calling me out of my home state. There was just one issue: where? I was immediately drawn to the ocean climate of San Diego; I was so convinced of that as my destination, I gave away most of my winter coats and warm clothing. However, God had a different idea, and my calling to the Twin Cities eventually became clear.
At first, the new location bordered on difficult. I had only lived in Iowa, and had never been more than a short drive from home on an extended basis. I was renting a one bedroom apartment, living without roommates for the first time in several years. And, to top it off, I hadn’t found God’s role for me in this new setting. It was at the pinnacle of my worry and homesickness that I was advised of Brookwood Community Church’s launch, and the open position for Worship Arts Director. Weeks later, God’s calling became clear.
Today, I find myself encountering further uncharted territory: I am feeling very much at home in the Twin Cities, I am engaged to a wonderful Christian woman, I am ministering to the nonbelievers in my workplace and in my life, and I am part of an incredible church plant here in Shakopee. All of these are new and magnificent events for me, and I am excited about what God has in store for my life.