Harold Bullock: Welcome to Hope Church’s 41st Anniversary celebration. Some of you, some of you were born since then, we started… We started in 1978, and I know because I was there. It’s been a good, good time. The Lord worked it out, just worked it out so that, this morning we’ve had with us people who are from Hope who’ve served different places in the world. Tim and Jill Owens are with us. Tim and Jill, would you guys stand? Here they are. They were members of Hope in the early 80’s and have served many, many years in Thailand, long-term, their life work. It’s fun to see them again. I don’t know...is Martha Moore in here? Are any of the Connexxion staff in here? Yes. Thank you, guys. You can be seated. I’m blinded by the lights. Martha was a part of Hope in the late 1980’s, and in time, the Lord led her to Europe, and she began student ministries at different universities. The Connexxion ministry, now, also includes a campus in the Netherlands. She is here with her staff and interns, so they’ve been visiting with us this week. We welcome you guys. In the last service, Andy and Cassia Worcester were here. Part of their growing up was in Hope Church, and they’re serving in campus ministry and church planting in East Asia. It’s fun to have you guys with us this morning.
We prayed that God would take people out of here and to different places in the world. People out of Hope have served in 38+ countries around the world over the years, and that’s been great. I’d like to just briefly look back on our past. Let me show you a picture; this is when I was good looking. See...catch those bell bottoms. Me and my wife a bit before we started Hope...we began January of 1978. We met in the old Southside Lions Club in southside of Fort Worth. That house we were standing in front of, by the way, was where we first met as a church. It’s now a parking lot for a doctor’s office. Over time, the church grew, and our family did, too. We started without children, and this is about the end of the 80’s/early 90’s...our family. Time has passed, and this is the family a couple of years ago. Yes, it takes time, but all you have to do, guys, if you want to get older… all you have to do is hang around. You don’t have to work at it. It’s been good, and where we began to meet in the Southside Lions Club, we were 20 years rental. That is, we rented hotels and different places to meet for worship, and then in our 20th year we moved into this building, and that has been our location. Things have moved along for us, and we are at a really good position right now.
Hope has grown. We wanted to...one of our goals was that people who would train here would start churches other places. People from Hope have helped start more than 200 churches, and then, of course, people are serving around the world. We in the home team here keep on working. I’d like to celebrate some of our advances recently. On staff we’ve been working hard to try to get things ready to help the church move aggressively into the future. Most of our work has not been highly visible. It’s sort of like building a skyscraper; let me show you a picture. I don’t know if you can see it very well or not, but there are all these tall buildings in the background. That is one gigantic hole, but there’s going to be a building. Whenever you build something that has to bear weight, you go deep into the ground. It takes awhile to see anything come above ground. It’s not that nothing’s happening, but you’re getting ready. Most of our work has been like that. It’s been dirt work...getting stuff ready to raise the building.
In 2017, I went to a pastor succession boot camp. I attended it, and I got some very clear outlines of what we needed to do to help the church toward the future and how to prepare for pastoral transition. We had been working on it for several years; we found out we had done several things right, but there was more to be done. It was a great help to identify the goals we need to accomplish. In 2018, the staff has spent nailing our identity, our direction, and how that...the steps we needed to move forward. We weren’t trying to create a new identity, but trying to be able to really state specifically what our identity is. Then, the things that had been on our heart...it took us really all year. We used a process called Vision Frame to help us articulate who we are...our vision, our values, strategy and then measures of success. I’ve mentioned that to the congregation. If you’re new here, you may not have heard it.
Another process, Horizon Storyline, helped us to clarify what our direction is, and that direction is evangelism, reaching out to our community, and then church starting. That’s what we started out to do, and that’s what we’re still working on doing. We wanted to...we were able to clarify what the direction is, how to articulate it, and then to determine major targets to help us move forward into the future. In our next sermon series, it will be called God Dreams; it starts next week. I will unpack these things; I think you’ll find them really interesting...and talk about the future and how we move into it.
That was 2018, and in 2019, we’ve been working on two things. One is getting ready to communicate, and the other is evaluating what we’re doing. Getting ready to communicate was about trying to boil it down, how to communicate effectively who we are so that you can tell a friend. You get in an elevator, and they say, “Well, tell me about your church.” You’ve got two floors; you get off, and you can tell them. Before this, it had to be a 103 story building, so we worked hard on that...then evaluating programs. From the beginning, we have continually evaluated what we are doing, and altered it to be more effective. We want to be Biblically-driven; we want to be culturally-relevant but Biblically-driven. The culture has shifted over time, so we’ve shifted, but we’ve made shifts in such a way that fits with what Scripture says. We continue to do that.
We, and lay leadership in the church, have been evaluating, and we, in our programs...the kind of stuff we do to help people...we don’t have any sacred cows. A friend a few years ago made the statement, “Sacred cows make great hamburger.” Well, along the way, we’ve had good hamburger, and so we’ve gone...we’re still going...through a major process of evaluation just to determine what’s helpful. Today, I’d like to share with you some of the good things that are coming after the dirt work. We’re now starting to get above ground. First, I’d like our Associate Pastor, Brian Cropp, to come up. He is our Director of Communications, he’s been working with the team to put a new logo together for us, and I’d like him to present it to you...Brian.
Brian: The same firm that helped us as a staff in nailing down how to communicate who we are have a graphic design and branding arm to that firm, so they helped us to come up with a logo that would also help us communicate the same things that we’ve already figured out how to communicate about ourselves. The words, “hope,” are all bunched together; we’re all in community and in relationship with one another. That’s important to us. The top arrow there, or those two arrows there off to the right, form a cross. They do; I promise you they make a cross. The top arrow represents those of us who walk with the Lord, that we’re carrying His light into the culture, and we would like as many people as possible to find a life-transforming relationship with Christ. The bottom arrow represents those folks, those people who are moving towards the Lord and wanting to be a part of us in the community of faith that we have in Hope Church. Then, that gap in between represents that journey that all of us are on; we’re taking our next steps with the Lord. We’re all on that journey whether we are currently followers of Christ or soon-to-be followers of Christ; we’re all on that road together. We have stuff...fun stuff...so that you can take this out into your weeks and in your lives, so that you can tell this same story to people that you’re around. We have shirts; you probably saw them out here. I have some here, as well, for those of you who are out there. You need some over there, back there; the back never gets any love from these kinds of things. You can have some; there’s some. Alright, those are all extra large’s. So if that’s not you, you can exchange that after the service and get the size you want. We also have these wristbands that you can have. We have window clings that you can put on the inside...the inside...of your windshield or the back window of your car. Don’t put them on the outside; it won’t work...won’t work. Just put them in there; if you put one on your car, drive nice. You’re representing us; if you feel like being in a bad mood, just take it off. It comes off real easy, and then do what you’ve got to do. Over the next several weeks, we will be transitioning a lot of what currently has the now old logo on it, so if you notice the program has the old logo on it. Your pens and the offering envelopes all have the old logo on them. We’ll be transitioning those as we run out of materials, so please take some pens home with you today so we can run out of them. Also, the driveway sign will be changing this week; the website will be changing hopefully today. If you...I’m open to your input, so as you run across print material throughout the building or in other places...this still has the old logo on it...please let me know, so we can make all those transitions so that we can have a unified picture and message of who we are as a church.
Thank you, Brian. So the new logo...it sort of looks simple; it’s really hard to come up with. That and then, this fall we’re working on two strategic initiatives...two things we’ll be focusing on. One is inviting; the other is strengthening. Inviting relates to people around us. Record numbers of people are moving into Tarrant County, and we want to be praying for them, for our friends, co-workers, neighbors, people who don’t know Christ. We want to invest our time in them...time and energy...and we want to invite them into our lives, our homes, and then to our church. You’ll be hearing more about this.
The other is strengthening families. We have several things we’ll be doing. The first one is a Family Night. During this fall, there will be no church activities on Monday night. The intent is for you to be able to get together with your family, and I would really encourage you to do that. It may be that you don’t have family here in town or apartment mates, you may want to spend time with them. But, we’re not going to be programming on Monday night; that’s for you. Also, we’ll be doing a parenting seminar with Dr. Nathan Lewis. Some of you know Dr. Lewis; he’s a professor of psychology and the Director of the Graduate Program in Counseling Ministry. He actually for about 28 years now has trained certified family therapists in the state of California. He’s a very deep Christian, really knows the Scripture, and he will be leading the parenting seminars that we will be doing. A little bit later, Fall Family Festival. You can guess what that will be; we will tell you. Then, around the first of November, a men’s summit to help men with leading their families. Then, because we’re moving into a transition time...because it’s a new transition time, we won’t be starting a new congregation for 18 to 24 months. We have too much work to do...just an update for you.
Inviting and strengthening and then transition...To help us move forward, we are entering into a season of transition. This will be a year of transition for me out of the senior pastor at Hope and into a new phase of ministry. During this week...I’ll give you some background on it, but during this week, we’ve been trying to get communication to all the members about this. So, if you’re not a member, this is probably the first you’re hearing of it. And if you’re a member who did not open their email, now you know. Scripture says, Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” ...a timeframe… “...A time for every purpose under heaven.” Different things come into our lives at different times. If you are a teenager, take advantage of the time; don’t be foolish, but use it well because I promise you, after awhile you’re no longer going to be a teenager. If you’re in your twenties, if things go normally, you will turn 30; you’ll have the crisis. If you are in your thirties, oh yes, life just moves on. We move through different seasons, timeframes, and they come, and what we tend to do is we tend to miss them because we are in such a rush. So, you want to use your time well in the season. If it’s winter, it’s really not good to wear your sandals and a bathing suit and go outside and work in the yard. It’s just not the right outfit. But summer, the parka and muk luks, the boots, they’re just hard on you; it’s not the season for it.
We’re moving into a new season. By June 30, 2020, I would like to have transitioned into a new phase of ministry. Again, more about that...this past April I’d been praying for several years, “God, You show me what I need to be doing.” And for ten years, I’ve been talking about we need to get ready for the time I won’t be here because who knows when it could happen. I’ve talked about it for ten years because churches tend to adjust to things slowly, so we should be about there. In April, it seemed like the Lord said to me and Deborah, my wife, that this coming year, 2019-2020 program year, should be the year that I would transition into a new phase. Then, the Lord just confirmed that over and over in different ways. The transition, the desired transition is not due to problems. My health is reasonably good. I had a stress test recently, and the blood flow in my heart and around it is good. I know of nothing that will kill me in the short run. Who knows what will, but I don’t know of anything. Health has been good. No one has been mean to me; no one has told me “Leave!” Through the years, some people have been mean to me; I will admit it, but this is not an issue.
Actually, people seem to like me. There’s a story about a pastor who was having difficulty with his congregation, and he quietly let the word out that he would love to move. He got a job for another church, and then on a certain Sunday, stood up, preached a sermon, and then said to the congregation, “The Lord Jesus has called me to a congregation in such and such a city. This is my last Sunday.” The congregation stood and sung “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and went home. It seems that people still like me. I presented the idea to the Hope Board of Directors, and they asked questions and then approved the transition.
For nearly 42 years, Hope has been our primary ministry, but some things remain. The Lord told me I was going into the ministry; I was a chemist. The Lord told me I was going into the ministry in 1970, and there are some things out of that original call that are still not accomplished. So, I want to focus on those. I’d like to help the 17:6 Network of churches and do some things and then develop training materials that would help the churches. I need to focus on that. We’re entering a season of transition. This is going to be a unique timeframe. We’ve never done that before in Hope. I have a friend who wrote book several years ago that became a best-seller; it was entitled, The Seven Last Words of the Church. Those words were: We’ve never done it that way before. Well, this is going to be unique for us. It’s a unique time frame. It’s given by the Lord, and we want to make the most out of it.
Ephesians 5:15-17 says this, “Be careful, then, how you live…” ...very careful… “...not as unwise but as wise…” ...don’t be stupid… “...making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil…” ...The thought is it’s never a convenient time to do what God wants… “...Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” These words...making the most of the opportunity...you can actually translate this way; this is from the Geneva Bible, “redeeming the season.” The word that is used to “make the most of the opportunity”; it is a time word, but it means a period of opportunity, a season that’s come. Redeeming--making the most or redeeming has the idea of fully exploiting, buying back, buying out all the opportunity that’s in this time. So, we want to redeem the season; we want to make the most of the opportunity. We’d like to get the most out of this timeframe that would be pleasing to the Lord Jesus because He deserves it. We’ll be working through a process; we want to handle it the way the Lord wants it handled.
I’d like to bring up the Hope Church Board of Directors. We have a Board of Directors; I’d like you to meet them so you can identify them. Gentlemen, would you come up? We’re going to operate in line with our bylaws. Let me show you the section out of our bylaws, section 8.02; you can see on the board: “...the Board of Directors shall adopt a resolution establishing a Senior Pastor Selection Committee. The recommendation of the Senior Pastor Selection Committee shall constitute a nomination for the office of Senior Pastor. The Board of Directors shall elect a new Senior Pastor by a majority vote…”
I’d like to introduce them to you; behind me or beside me or wherever...I’ll just stand here. Three of the Hope staff are on the Board of Directors--the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor (Matt Sturdevant), Brian Cropp, our Worship Pastor. Then, there are two people out of the church who are deacons that are elected by the Deacon Council, from their ranks--Rick Myers. Rick, you’ve been a member of Hope how long? 33 years. I knew him when he was a kid; he knows and understands who we are. He’s been a leader in the congregation for a long time. Greg Cruse--Greg, how long have you and Leta been a part? It will be 30 years this fall...30 years this fall. Rick’s the director of pharmacy for some hospitals in the area, and Greg is the...what’s your title, Greg? He’s the manager, energy manager at Oil State. These men have been leaders among us; they understand who we are and are respected. Then over on my right here are two pastors from other churches. First, right here is Randy Lanthripe; Randy is the pastor of Church in the Valley. He started it. How long ago, Randy? 32 years ago they started and have planted several churches actually out of there, so Randy understands church life. Josh De La Rosa is on the end; Josh is pastor at Orangecrest Community Church. You planted that church 12 years ago and has continued as senior pastor and grown it.
Just a fun note--Randy and his wife trained with us in Fort Worth. They started Church in the Valley 32 years ago and have been working there growing the church and training people. Josh De La Rosa trained with Randy for a number of years and then started Orangecrest Community Church 30 miles away and has grown that church now for 12 years. Then out of Josh’s church, next year, June? Yes. Bruce Wood, who’s been trained and been on staff...Bruce Wood and his wife will go to start a church in northwest L.A. That’ll be fourth generation church from Hope, so these things have been going on. It’s a delight to have you with us today, gentlemen. They sacrificed to be here to help out.
I’d like Rick Myers to talk to us briefly, a deacon board member. Gentlemen, you can go ahead and have your seat. This is our board of directors; Rick will talk to you briefly about how we’re going to steward this time, what the process will be. The Board of Directors will be in charge, so by the way, the information that we’re sharing with you will be on tables outside after you get through here. If you’re worried about writing furiously, relax; it’ll be available. You can pick it up. Rick. Again, I’ve been asked just to discuss just briefly how we as a church will steward this season of transition to a new senior pastor. It was in 1986 that my wife, Teresa, and I first started attending Hope, and before too long, we noticed something that was just both surprising, a bit unusual, and very encouraging. That was that we started hanging around people more and noticing that something called the “Heart Attitudes” at Hope. It was something that was very important; we have them on your screen. Those of you who have been around for awhile will recognize these. If you’ve been through our new member training, we talk about these.
What was interesting about that was that they weren’t just a nice set of rules or organizational goals that people ascribe to, but rather it was something that these people actually lived out, lived out in front of us. Some of those people are still attending Hope today, and it was very, honestly, different but also extremely encouraging to see the Biblical commands about how we treat one another and how we work together in a church lived out in front of us. Just know that as we move forth, the Heart Attitudes will continue to shape this whole transition into a new senior pastor. Our bylaws do specify how this process works, and I’m just going to walk through real briefly how that process works.
The Board of Directors will oversee the whole process; we’ll, first in the next few weeks, be appointing a committee, a group of people called the Pastoral Candidate Selection Team. That group will actually be doing the vetting of candidates for our new senior pastor. After they meet and spend some time with that vetting process, they will present a name to the Board of Directors for us to vote on. We will either give it a vote of “yes” or “no.” If it’s a thumb up, then we will have a new senior pastor, and we will announce that to the church. If not, the process starts over again, and the Pastoral Candidate Selection Team will send another name back to the Board for their approval. Once we do have a decision made, of course, we will announce that to you.
Then, the next step will be that that senior pastor will be having an overlap time with Pastor Harold. There will be several weeks of transition where they will be serving together where they will make sure that things are handled appropriately and there’s a very solid and consistent transition and handoff to the new senior pastor. At that point, Pastor Harold will then take a six month sabbatical from Hope in which he will be away, and when he comes back after six months...when he and Deborah come back, that he will actually take a lower position on the staff here at Hope. So, what is your role in all of this? Really, it’s all of our role that I’m going to address now is just simply we all need to be praying. We really need to be praying because this is a season that we just haven’t experienced here at Hope, and it’s a very important time in our church history. Please be praying that God would direct this whole process that the Lord Jesus would be the One that selects our new senior pastor, that He sovereignly works through the Candidate Selection Team and through the Board to pick the right person, and that we would all be praying that God’s will would be done not ours.
Also, be choosing to live those Heart Attitudes out; this is an excellent time for each of us to deepen our own personal walk with the Lord Jesus and to really choose to live those out among us. If you’ve been giving, well great, we’re going to need to continue to have your giving. If you’ve not, then jump in and start. If you’ve been serving, well great, we need to continue to have you serve with us, and if you haven’t, please jump in and start serving. Finally, please pray that each of us by what we say and what we do would really protect the unity of our church because that really pleases the Lord. That’s Who we ultimately want to please in this whole process.
Thank you, Rick. I’d like to call Randy Lanthripe up to come back on the stage. Randy is the...a pastor. While he’s coming up, I’d like to tell you what we want for you. Sometimes things get confusing when there are pastor transitions, but we’ve been...we’ve not just been sort of hanging out listening to somebody talk, we’ve been going somewhere and are still going there. We want...what we want for you is that you personally and your family, if you have a family, that you would prosper in community with people that actually walked with Christ. We tried to be that; we want to keep on.
Secondly, that for the church that it would maintain momentum and enthusiasm and that it would move aggressively into the future and that we would have a leader who fits the culture of the church, the strengths of the church, and then the mission of the church. These are not unknowns; we are going somewhere, so pray for that. Randy is not only a senior pastor, founder and senior pastor; he’s the Director of the 17:6 Network and one of our pastors on the Board of Directors. He had some thoughts for us at this time. Randy?
Yes, it’s great to be with you this morning and share these thoughts from an outside perspective. As a member of the Board, we’re working as a Board to look out for the best interests of Hope because of what Harold just shared. A church community plays a very important role in the lives of the members of the congregation and those who come around. Hope, through the years, has set a tremendous example for the churches in the network, the 17:6 Network, and this is another opportunity to do that. As you walk through this season of transition, there’s a great deal of opportunity. We’re...all the churches...since we have come out of Hope and Harold and Deborah and you all have really made such an impact on our congregations and our lives, as well. We all look to Hope to watch what’s going on there; well, this is the first time a founding or long-term pastor at a Network church has transitioned. So as you walk through this season, you have an opportunity to set a real example. I deeply appreciate you as a congregation, and I’m looking forward to learning from you all as you walk through this time.
Thank you, Randy. I don’t know what emotions you had during this week if you got the information earlier or this morning; there’s probably a wide range. We’re not going to criticize emotions; if you have them, you have them. If you let them run your life, of course, it’ll kill you. You have to control yourself, but they’re genuine. Maybe surprise, maybe shock, maybe sadness; you might be hopeful. You really see a future. I don’t know; I know that to some of you I’ve been not only a leader, I’ve been sort of a spiritual older brother. To others of you, I’ve been a kind of spiritual father. Deborah and I have loved you guys, and you have loved us. At the end of this process, I will not be the senior pastor. I will still be here, though, and I’ll be a part. Our relationship, our friendship, our fellowship--those things can still go on.
Deborah and I actually love you guys deeply. Some of you we’ve known a long time; you’ve been our friends and co-laborers for years. Others of you have come around recently, and we’re getting to know you and enjoying that. Hope Church belongs to the Lord Jesus; it doesn’t belong to me, and actually, it doesn’t belong to the congregation. It belongs to Him; He’s the One who bought us. He’s the One we serve; He’s the One who leads us. We sense that the congregation is ready to enter a new stage of adventure with the Lord. There’s greater work that’s got to be done and amazingly, greater opportunity. Our congregation’s in actually good shape; we had a difficult year financially last year, but that’s been straightened out. And it’s been amazing how finances have been.
The building, you know, can be expensive. We prayed for a new roof and new air conditioning. By virtue of two storms, we ended up with them...had to walk through a little water, but that’s been taken care of. Then, we got the parking lot reconditioned and striped. More could be done to it, but there’s not major challenges financially. There’s some freshening up that needs to be done with the building but nothing like those things. So we’re in a very good place; we have very good leaders, lay leaders, and our staff leaders are excellent. We’re just at a really good place, and the Lord has spoken about this time. We can walk into the things He has for us if we work together, walk together and work together, and work together with Him. I want to call you to walk closely and intentionally with the Lord during this season. If you’re like me, that’s always a problem for you, but just keep on...having problems. Stay close; pray that we’d be effective in our mission in the community and also ask God to guide our process.
Let me ask you not to do a couple of things. Don’t play vain speculations. “Who do you think it’s going to be? Well, I think it’s going to be so and so. Well, who do you think it’s going to be?” You don’t know, and it’s not your stewardship. Anytime you start messing around in other people’s stewardships, it gets to be a problem for you. So just don’t go there; it turns into gossip, and it doesn’t help. Don’t play that game. Then, don’t start politicking for someone. Sometimes churches do this. Whenever we go into a new season, we usually go back to what I call “cultural default.” The first time you’ve done anything you always go by what you’ve learned, and that tends to be out of tv and the society. You get married; you tend to do it the way all your friends have, not necessarily the way Jesus wants.
We just do this, and whenever churches...this is the first time for us...we’re going to do this the Lord’s way. We’re not going to do this society’s way. Don’t play vain speculation, and then, don’t play the politicking or pressure game. “Well, I think it ought to be so and so.” Well, good; if you think it ought to be so and so, you tell the Candidate Selection Team. They could use your input, but we’re not going to do that. We’re going to walk with the Lord through this. It’s going to be an opportunity to follow spiritual leadership within Scriptural limits. So, we’ll pray; we’ll walk through it, and we’ll walk through it in line with the Heart Attitudes.
Caution: A friend told us, “When you’re in war, your enemy loves to strike at shift change.” Yeah, that’s right...disorient everyone. We’re going to be in a process of shift change, so pray...pray for...pray against the enemy. Pray we’d have good sense, and protect our unity. If someone really wants to play the “Who Do You Think It’s Going to Be?” game, just say, “I don’t know, and it’s really not our stewardship.” If they’re still your friend, you can talk about something else. Protect the unity. We have unity; protect it.
When Deborah and I started Hope Church...I’m telling you the honest to goodness truth...we actually started with an intent, a desire/intent, to create a movement that would last 150 years if the Lord would allow. We had studied what that takes and had a lot of experience in building things. I didn’t say to the church on the first day, “We’re going to last 150 years.” That’s worthless. What you have to do is last, and then you have to keep on. That impact has spread. Off that 150 years, 41 years have passed now, so guys, we have another hundred and some to go. I’ll be here for part of it; some of you will be here for more of it, and some of you younger ones, I don’t know if you’ll see the whole thing or not. But, there’s a future, and the Lord Jesus is leading into it. When you and I leave this planet, we want to face Him, and we want to be able to say, “You know, Lord, I stayed with it. I stayed with the stuff.”
I don’t know where God is going to lead you as time goes on, but there’s a lot to be done. If you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, lean into this with me. Push ahead, and push into it. If you’re in your 30’s or 40’s, get behind us; push ahead. See, you’ve got more energy than that other bunch. If you’re in your 20’s, you’ve got lots of energy, and you’ve got years. Get with us, and push through this. We’re going to do something that we haven’t done, and Christ Jesus is going to be honored. It will be amazing to see what happens. Lord willing, I will not disappear. You know, there are a couple of guys who did disappear in history; you can read about them in the Bible. I’m not anticipating a chariot of fire coming to take me off, but I will be with you and we’ll press forward into this. But this will be...this is a part of what we’ve been working on. We know who we are; we know where we’re going. We know what we’ve been doing, and we’re going to do it. We need to find God’s person to lead us on into it. Join me next week as we begin the God Dreams series of messages; I think you’ll really enjoy it.