Sunday, August 9, 2009

Passing of the Baton

Today saw a significant moment in the history of Highland Park Evangelical Free Church. We celebrated the formal installation of our new senior pastor, Justin Erickson. Our previous senior pastor of 14 years had been called by the Lord to another church almost a year ago, and we have been under the leadership of an interim pastor, Lynn Kent, during the past 10 months. It was a well done service, with words from our Elders, from our interim pastor, from new pastor Justin, and also from Justin's long-time personal mentor Jay Letey. And there was even an actual baton passed from interim pastor Lynn to Justin. A baton aptly engraved with the words of 2 Timothy 2:2 - "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

I am greatly looking forward to seeing how God unfolds this next chapter in the life and history of our church. Justin is an incredible man of God, gifted and equipped and passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His word, and His church. He is a great expositional proclaimer of the word. And he is a man with a shepherd's heart. I don't know what ministry at HPEFC will look like a few years from now, but I have a feeling that it will be even more Christ-centered and word-centered than it ever has been.

And I also want to express thanks to Christ for interim pastor Lynn Kent. I admit that I've have been somewhat critical of Lynn's preaching over these past 10 months, as he clearly is not an exegetical-expositional preacher, and he readily admits that. He also holds to a philosophy of ministry that is much different than that which our church is based on and has followed in the past. But despite this, he has done an admirable job of shepherding the body of Christ at HPEFC during this transitional time, and helped our Elders to assess some ministry areas where we need strengthening. And I believe that he has fulfilled the purpose that God had for him here, to give us an even greater thirst and hunger for the rich preaching of the word and prepare us for the next stage in our church's life. He is, after all, the man that God sovereignly purposed to fill this role for this season. And as 1 Timothy 5:17 says, he is worthy of honor: "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor..."

So we press on with new pastoral leadership, but with the same mission and purpose that Jesus Christ has had for His church since before the foundation of the world. To glorify Him by making disciples. Or as HPEFC's mission statement puts it: Exalting Jesus Christ, Loving One Another. And as Justin adds to this: Giving Ourselves Away.

Soli Deo Gloria...

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