This blog installment comes on the occasion of the 10th anniversary as pastor of my church. This is a very personal piece and if you are one of my readers who is not associated with my church, I wanted you to know the personal nature of what I write here. My approach to ministry is hands-on, and it is invested in personal relationships. Some pastors lead large churches. They are more like corporate executives. I am a leader, but I am also a member of a family - a church family. It is an approach to ministry that has been a blessing and it is the approach I believe God has mandated for me.
I began as pastor of HillSong Church on September 17, 2006. Dina Sit had started as our ministry assistant one month before I began. I was father to just one child, 4-year-old Igor. I had just started a Facebook account. George W. Bush was president. No one knew who Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin were. ISIS did not exist. No one used the phrase “Arab Spring.” HillSong Church had one pastoral staff member.
Since then, our family has added Henry and Merone. Heather Folliard got married, became our associate pastor, had three children, and is about to welcome number 4 into the world. Our church has had 3 wonderful youth pastors (4 if we include Jen Moss, and we should include Jen Moss for the simple reason that she’s awesome). I miss Jonathan & Krystal, love that Emily B. is still in the church as an elder and worship leader, and am happy for Nathan as he and his new wife Emily W-H start their life together. I am excited about our new youth pastor Enam and her husband Carlin.
As I think about the changes and the journey our church is on, I am grateful we are on it together. In 2006, none of us knew where Kombolcha, Ethiopia or Puerta Plata, DR were. Now, we’ve been to those places and the people there are as much a part of our church as the people here. I am grateful for HillSong.
I am grateful for the leaders in our church. Each chairman/chairwoman of elders and deacons have been different in personality and method, and I have enjoyed working with each. Will Allen, Tamara Baker, Todd Baker, Susan Dunn, Patricia Johnson, Nelson Keller, Jess Ostrowski, Nancy Parker, Laura Shrewsbury, Tabitha, Storm, and Betty Thompson: I love each one of you and am grateful that I have been able to be in ministry alongside you.
I am grateful for the people I have come to know at HillSong, and there is no way I could name you all. Many of you have been a mentor to me. Many have been prayer warriors, going before God on my behalf. Many have gone out of your way to show love to my family. There are people who have been essential to our wellbeing and I cannot name all here. But, you know who you are. And I promise, before we go to bed at night, Candy and I thank God for you. We do this all the time.
I am not going anywhere, I don’t think. Beth Roberts and I joke about this, but with the Lilly Grant, I am contractually obligated to HillSong through the end of 2018. But, it is a pleasure, not an obligation. It is a joy to be pastor of this church. I suspect that when January 2019 rolls around, I’ll be enthusiastically working with our pastoral staff and our elders on the vision for our church as move into the future together. I am very, very excited about that future. If God told me to leave tomorrow, I would. But everything I have heard from God is that there are plans for HillSong and I have a role in those plans. I believe this is true and am working toward a future in which our church is a powerful witness that testifies about the Kingdom of God to our community. God is at work among us and I thank Him that He lets me be a small part of it.