John Turnipseed used to lead a gang of 300 or more in Minneapolis, a gang with a reputation big enough and bad enough to have the National Guard called in against them. Now, he’s living a completely different story. The campus pastor and executive vice president at Urban Ventures, John takes his passion for fathering and uses it to minister to men and their families.

Who is John Turnipseed? John Turnipseed is a former gang leader turned campus pastor. After living a life of crime and violence, John faced sentencing for a number of felonies. When God intervened, leaving him with only probation instead of life in prison, John found mentors and the education on fatherhood he so desperately needed at Art Erickson’s Urban Ventures in downtown Minneapolis. John nows serves as Urban Ventures’ Campus Pastor and Executive Vice President, has co-authored his biography titled Bloodline, has given a TED Talk on fathering, and served on the Volunteers of America – Minnesota board. 

Having experienced an absent father in his own childhood, John had no idea how to father his own children until they were well into their teens. Since walking away from what should of been a lengthy prison sentence and out onto the streets, he has served with Urban Ventures to help education young men on how to be present in their own children’s lives, hoping to break the cycle of absent fathers and the wreckage of families left behind.


“I see the father as the roof of the family. If the roof is not well, life becomes miserable and sooner or later, the elements get in and ruin everything.” — John

“We were taught to pray and things would get better. When things didn’t get better, our prayers changed.” — John

“A lot of guys are disconnected from their kids. If you’re disconnected long enough, it starts to feel natural.” — John

“It doesn’t matter what happens in life. That doesn’t determine your fatherhood. A child that knows they have a father in life will do so much better in life.” — John

Action Steps:

  • It’s important to have identity in our roles. Own the role you have been chosen to play, whether that’s pastor or parent or child.
  • You cannot take your own experience with your father and copy and paste it on to God.
  • When you think about the father-son relationship between God and Jesus, you recognize that the Father sacrificed his Son for others because He loved us as much as His own child.
  • As men and fathers, we are needed. We are also vulnerable, regardless of what kind of family we grew up in. We cannot stray from the Truth, no matter our situation.
  • We are not finished, even if we are done raising our kids. Our story continues until our last breath, and we must keep the faith until that day.

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