(note: I began writing this post yesterday, 2/26, hence the Friday reference)
It's Friday, and I know that it's usually light hearted on here because my A.D.D. is normally in high gear, but today I feel like my spirit's a little heavy. We are coming to an end of an era – an era that has seen many people place their faith in Jesus; an era that has seen a church exceed normal growth patterns; an era in which God has used a man to work towards HIS purposes in that man's generation. As I'm sure most of you are aware, tomorrow is Pastor Dennis' last Sunday as the Pastor of Hyde Park.
I knew that this day would come – all good things do eventually, one way or another, come to an end; For me, watching him remove the final articles from his office was a wake-up call; "this is REALLY happening – WOW!"
A few days ago I spoke about Pastor's influence over me (you can read that here) – I just had to say one more time how much I appreciate all that he has done in my life. As I've said this to him he is very quick to deflect the glory, and I praise God for his humility. I believe that, apart from the favor of God and the supernatural power of Jesus flowing through me and all around me, the foundation that Pastor Dennis laid before me was perhaps the most important part of my successes at hyde park.
What I'm saying is that I believe his leadership is a strong reason for 10+ years at Hyde Park. I have told him this personally – I express it to you because I want you to know that I truly understand how important his influence and leadership has been to my growth and stability.
What would you say to your Pastor as he completes his ministry with us tomorrow? (read that question again – ponder it)
What do you need to know about tomorrow?
- Tomorrow will be a celebration! Pastor is going to look back over the history of Hyde Park (not just "his" history). We will look at some of the founding members of HP and remember their heart for our community.
- Tomorrow will be inspirational! I believe that you will be reminded that we are not here for us, but rather God has placed us here for our city.
- Some of our former members will be with us tomorrow! I am looking forward to a big hug from some that have been an important part of the history of Hyde Park.
- Pastor Dennis will be baptizing in the morning! This is a last call; have you been baptized SINCE you believed? It's not too late (let me know – we will make this happen – on FB, inbox me)
- Some of Pastor's best friends will join us tomorrow nite (not to mention former staff members as well as some who have gone on to serve Jesus in ministry in other places).
- The, "what would you say to your Pastor" Question: There is a time built into tomorrow night's celebration for you to publicly share your appreciation to Pastor Dennis.
I hope that you will take time today to reflect upon what you will say to the Pastor God has used in a great way to faithfully inspire and encourage you.
We are in the process of thinking through what we hope will be a big initiative/project for our church to gather around during the month of March and leading us into the Easter season (Easter is on April 4th – we're planning a BIG one!).
I believe that as we enter March without a Pastor for the 1st time in 25 years the best thing that we can do is remember WHY we do WHAT we do – in other words, WHY Hyde Park is here: We are here to impact our community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do that by Loving God, Loving People (that includes one another) and Serving our World. Jesus said it best when He instructed us in Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
We would love to hear from you: Do you have any big ideas that you would suggest that we could do to serve our community over the month of March to "let our light shine" throughout this city and area. How would you do it? As you think/pray about that here are a couple of thoughts:
- What we are seeking are things that should be done OUTSIDE of the walls of the church. We want this to be about serving our world If we want to let our light shine it needs to be where the people who need to see that light are. The more contact we have with those who need to see a light shining into their darkness the better.
- Don't disqualify your suggestion in the "we could NEVER make that happen" category – I'm looking for some big ideas. 1John 4:4 says, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."
- Remember, this isn't about "inside the church" programs. People seldom come to churches to find God unless someone from that church has impacted their lives. Outside the walls.
You can reply in the comments section, hit me here or inbox me on facebook. However you submit your ideas I am definitely looking forward to hearing your ideas.
We had a really great Sunday today. Valentine's Day – must have been a lot of love in the air . It's pretty hard to believe that today marked the beginning of the last 3 weeks of Pastor Dennis' tenure as the leader of Hyde Park. This morning Pastor began his last series with us based on 2 Corinthians 13:11-14. As Pastor said in today's worship bulletin, "Today's message, 'Looking for a Pastor', is the first of my last series titled, "And Finally…". There are a lot of opinions about what a Pastor should be and do. To have a correct view you should always start with scripture and with what God wants in a Pastor. That way the church can call God's man."
- We had 2 really great services today. I enjoyed seeing, meeting with, loving on and worship Jesus with God's people this morning.
- The best way to meet new people at Hyde Park is in the parking lot. There is so much action out there – it's a little cold but there's plenty of coffee available to keep you warm. Just love to see the smiles as people are making their way in on Sunday mornings.
- As you can tell, I am very jealous of the iServe team.
A couple of thoughts I had from Pastor's message:
- "the average stay of a Pastor on a church field is about 3 years": Most people at Hyde Park were probably shocked by that number after a 25 year pastorate. What we have experienced at HP is not normal in any way when looking at today's church.
- Pastor went on to talk why most pastorates last less than 3 years (1st year = honeymoon, 2nd year = people begin to see flaws in pastor, pastor see's true issues in body, 3rd year = pastor seeks a new start/honeymoon). As I pondered this I thought how most in the church today believe it's easier to "break-up" than it is to work out our issues. Sad.
- Good thing we don't use the same logic in our marital counseling, huh?
- "The staff member with the shortest tenure is 5 years – that speaks well of you as a church body": I can speak for myself in the fact that, through over 10 years of ministry with you, as opportunities/inquiries would come I would always think of HP as my home.
- Pastor spoke about his experience with the ordination committee when a Pastor questioned what he would do if they didn't ordain him; I had a very similar experience going through my ordination counsel – one of the older pastor's in our association said to me, "Mike, what are you going to do if we choose not to ordain you?" My answer: "this is just a formality for me that I have to go through – your ordination is 'man's ordination' – Jesus is the One who has ordained me to the ministry."
A couple of other things that took place today:
- Lots of new faces today! Always look forward to meeting new people. If you have brought a new friend, PLEASE introduce them to me.
- Music today: "That's Why We Praise Him" – Tommy Walker, "To God be the Glory", "Mighty to Save" and "The Stand" (Hillsong)
- Reminded everyone that we will be baptizing on Sunday, February 28th – Pastor will be baptizing, if you need to follow the Lord in new believer's baptism let us know.
Remember this week WHO we represent – represent Jesus well.
It's hard to believe that this time next month my Pastor, friend and mentor, Dennis Harrell, will no longer be the Pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church. Over 10 years ago our paths unexpectedly crossed and the truth is I will never be the same. I have learned so much by serving under this man of God, so much that I will lean on through my years in the ministry. There is so much that I could thank him for but I'm going to share a few with you off the top of my head:
- I thank Pastor Dennis for letting me become the man that God was creating me to be. Pastor had the position and the influence to mold me into his image instead of God's – he never wanted to do that. As I was growing Pastor encouraged me to grow, learn and take in new experiences. Pastor often encouraged me to check out what it happening outside of our little church bubble – to learn from other leaders and churches – and in the process greatly influenced me to see bigger visions and dream bigger dreams.
- Pastor let me make mistakes. Pastor Dennis believes in taking risks for the glory of God – he's not afraid of new things and breaking new ground. He also understood that the only way to NEVER make mistakes is to never try anything new. So we tried stuff – some of it paid off greatly, others not so much. I'm so thankful for a man of courage who knew that if we didn't try big stuff with God we were already failures.
- Pastor trusted my knowledge and my heart. I'll never forget a very early conversation we had; as I consulted him on something that fell under my leadership he said something to the effect of, "Mike, I don't know the answer to that. The way that I look at this is that in your area you're the "expert", if I was an "expert" in music and worship I wouldn't need you". Now, I know that I wasn't an expert (and still am not one) but the point was taken and well received. He freed me up to lead.
- Pastor took shots for me and never told me. How do I know this if he never told me? I guess I don't, but… Because there is NO WAY POSSIBLE that in 10 years of ministry with me and my edginess and with all the change that we've seen that he didn't have to defend me to people. Instead of coming to me and letting me "have it" because of the abuse he took he instead took it upon himself and saving me the anguish. Kind of reminds me of something Someone else once did for me over 2,000 years ago.
These are just 4 things but how HUGE are they? These four things helped shape me into the servant of the Lord I am today and for that I am so thankful. My prayer is that as I grow as a leader that I will exhibit and demonstrate these excellent traits to raise up Godly men and women for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Thank you Preacher – you may be retiring as the pastor of Hyde Park but you will always be my pastor.
(By the way, this weekend marks the 1st of Preacher's final 3 weeks – He will share his final series with us, "…and Finally" as he talks about hyde park, our next pastor, our role as the church and our exciting future – I'm sure there will be some reminiscing about where we've been as well as we look towards the future)
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." (2 Cor 13:11)
As I was looking over some notes I came across this thought that I had written in my journal based upon Luke 9:1-6
Jesus, called His 12 disciples to Himself and prepares them to go on a missionary trip:
1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
He tells them not to take anything with them (guess this was a faith journey), to stay in one place the whole time they are in a town. Jesus then tells them that if the people don't welcome them they are to "shake the dust off your feet as you leave as a testimony against those people" (v.5).
Jesus came to preach, to make known the Kingdom of God, to heal, to bless and yet some wouldn't receive it… isn't it sad for the Kingdom of God to be so close – in this case right before them – yet a person doesn't have eyes to see what is plainly right in front of them. Imagine, the God of the universe is literally trying to invade your world yet you totally deny what is right in front of you. Why is he doing it? Because He loves, cares and longs for you to know the truth about Him and what His Son has done on your behalf. This didn't just happen in Jesus' life – it happens in this world everyday?
Do you see the modern implications that this statement holds? How often do we fail to see the things God plainly puts before us? How many times have I missed something that is so easy to see? Maybe it's just me. Or maybe you're just as convicted as I…