Hyde Park is a lot different than it was 11 years ago. Now I know, some think it's awesome - a few argue that they aren't happy with the direction. One thing that we should all be able to agree on is that together we have touched a lot of people for the cause of Jesus Christ. For that we should all be thankful - honestly, I love you all regardless of your opinion.
Through the years as changes have come I have found myself adapting to the challenges of Pastoring in a fast moving, growing church. If you asked me what I would say to someone entering a position like mine has been at Hyde Park I would share the list below. This list has helped me to stay grounded that I might live out what I believe God has called me to - now matter how quickly the landscape changed (by the way: these are not in order of importance):
- Be prayed up: to lead it is imperative that you have a game-plan, a map that shows you the direction that you are to lead in - DIRECTION COMES FROM JESUS! Vision from God for your ministry (not someone else's that you've adapted from their blog or website) is the beginning of leadership. When I pray for and about my ministry I ask God for a Spiritual covering, Spiritual Guidance and Spiritual eyes. I remember many times thanking God in advance for what I believed in faith that He was going to do only to watch Him do that exact thing later. Be prayed up.
- Be excellent: to be excellent you must first define what excellence looks like. I have encouraged other church leaders not to define excellence by looking at sister churches (because unfortunately that may be setting the bar low). You must be excellent at what you do if you expect excellence from others.
- Be Patient: You can't make too many changes too fast without trouble and when you do make changes it is imperative that people understand why the changes are necessary. This isn't a ministry principal - it's a life principal. More on this later.
- Be Humble: This one is hard, especially if you're a leader type person. Truth is, for many people who do what I do, God has given them the ability to stand before people to lead/perform/communicate and it takes a certain amount of confidence to actually do that. If you don't watch out your confidence will turn into pride. DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID EVERYONE OFFERS YOU ("you're SO great! God is using YOU so much! You have such an annointing! You're the reason we come here!") I repeat: do not drink the Kool-aid! It tastes really good but it is poisonous (not to mention that when you do you literally are stealing God's Glory). Whenever someone does this point them back to Jesus.
- Be a worshiper: no brainer, huh? One of the most dangerous things in the world is to become a "professional worshiper". Joe Pace once said, "God is more concerned with your private worship on Monday than He is is impressed with your public worship on Sunday. Read this:
21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [a]
I will have no regard for them. (We cannot buy God!)
23 Away with the noise of your songs! (Without the heart the most Theological of songs is noise to You, O God)
I will not listen to the music of your harps. (Amos 5:21-23 - NIV)
It is possible to "do" the actions that represent worship without truly worshiping. The actions of worship without the heart of worship in nothing more than meaningless ritual.