HPBC and TTU—Hand-in-Hand

April 26, 2012

Salt and pepper.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Some things simply “go together.”  Highland Park Baptist Church and Tennessee Temple University simply “go together.”  Since 1946, our church and the Temple schools have journeyed together to educate people in a godly environment.

 

Praise the Lord that on this momentous occasion of inaugurating Dr. Steve Echols this Sunday morning, we have the opportunity to do so during our Sunday morning worship time.  What better time is there than this Sunday morning to proclaim to the world that our church and university are dedicated to walk together in challenging students academically and encouraging them to grow in their faith?

 

We praise the Lord that Dr. Echols is our new President at TTU and know God’s greatest days are ahead for this fine institution.

 

Because He Lives,

Pastor Jeremy

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Camp Joy: A Big Announcement Coming Tomorrow!

April 26, 2012

Tomorrow, at 9:45 EST, I will be a part of a press conference at Camp Joy to explain how we are re-focusing and re-visioning our camp.  Camp Joy is a 66-year-old ministry that is owned by Highland Park Baptist Church.  We have seen thousands of boys and girls come to know the Lord Jesus at this camp.

 

The first Friday of March of this year, tornadoes tore through our camp and ravaged the 74-acre campus.  The barn where the horses were kept has no roof.  The largest dorm was shifted off of its foundation.  The pool is still workable, but the fence around it was blown away.  The landscaping was tossed all over the place by the heavy winds.

 

God has a way of turning tragedy into triumph.  I praise the Lord that He sent the wind so that we can now see a fresh wave of vision at Camp Joy.  Tim Walterbach, Director of our camp, is doing an amazing job.  As the architects and crews of people prepare for the big announcement pertaining to details of the future of the camp, I encourage you to pray for them.  Tomorrow, I will post the plethora of news stories that will pepper the tri-state region’s landscape.

 

One week from this Sunday, May 6th, we will have “Camp Joy Sunday” to celebrate our camp’s future.  We will have a big church-wide lunch at the camp after the service.

 

I am excited!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Jeremy


Ten Leadership Keys to Transitioning into a New Pastorate

April 20, 2012

I have developed a list of ten key pastoral transition challenges after having read Michael Watkins’ book, The First 90 Days.  Here they are . . .

 

1. Mentally Transition

Perhaps the biggest pitfall I face is assuming whatever particular areas of success I have had in previous pastoral experiences will result in the same successes at Highland Park.  I must mentally transition to this new experience and rely on God instead of systems that have pragmatically resulted in growth and development.

 

2. Accelerate Learning

I must climb the learning curve as quickly as possible at Highland Park.  This means understanding what ministries we have, how they operate, what systems and structures we have, comprehending our ecclesial culture, and also grasping the political dynamics that are extant.

 

3. Match Strategy to Situation

I must diagnose our situation with clarity and accuracy.  What are our greatest challenges?  What are our greatest immediate and long-term opportunities?

 

4. Secure Early Wins

Early wins will help me to establish credibility as a leader and build momentum.  In these first few weeks, I must identify opportunities to build personal credibility.  In my first 90 days as Highland Park’s pastor, I must identify ways to add immediate value to the church, improve the church’s spiritual depth, attendance, and finances.

 

5. Negotiate Success

Identify the key leaders (both lay and staff) within the church and engage in a series of critical conversations about Highland Park’s situation, our style, our resources, immediate and long-term expectations, and overall development.

 

6. Achieve Alignment

Part of serving as a leader involves being an “organizational architect.”  We currently lack purpose, clarity of our mission, action plans, and goals.  This will involve a process of an eventual time of vision-casting.  In order to develop the vision, much prayer, biblical study, analysis of churches in similar situations, laying the groundwork, seeking input and buy-in from the entire congregation, and having clarity of vision from the Lord are all a part of the process.

 

7. Build My Team

Team-building requires both systematic and strategic thinking.  It is important the team be built quickly.  I am looking to fill several positions: Worship Pastor, Missions Coordinator, Student Pastor, and a Pastoral Intern.

 

8. Create Coalitions

Much of my success will depend on my ability to influence people outside of my direct line of control.  I must quickly identify those whose support is essential for success and cultivate relationships with them.

 

9. Keep My Balance

As a transition can be taxing, I must work hard to maintain my equilibrium and preserve my ability to make good judgments.  It can become easy to lose perspective, become isolated, and quickly make bad calls.  A major part of this is to maintain contact with mentors and advisors inside and outside the church.

 

10. Expedite Everyone

The more quickly the staff, deacons, and other key leaders come up to speed with what I need and want from them in their respective roles, the more it will help the church’s performance as a well-run organization for God’s glory.


Sunday Reflections

April 16, 2012

On occasion, I will post Sunday reflections.  These will not be extremely organized thoughts, but more than anything they will be my basic reflections.

 

Yesterday was my second Sunday to preach in the Highland Park pulpit as her new pastor.  I preached from John 17:20-24 in the morning and James 4:1-10 in the evening.

 

Something I have noticed is that from my initial time preaching at HPBC on the first Sunday in March to now, the church has become much more expressive and emotive.  I guess this has something to do with the church already reflecting my personality.  It is interesting to watch a church that has been pastored by the same man for decades, and how if that man is somber, so is the church.  Antithetically, pastors who are very expressive typically have very expressive parishioners.  I’m not even saying that expressive emotions are better than introversion; I am simply stating that I am who I am and it is interesting to see that even now that is starting to reflect onto my new flock.

 

As I preached about unity in the morning, something I loved was that I could preach about the unification of the church, overcoming dividers, and the Spirit of the Lord was palatable as I preached.  It just felt good to preach the text, let it fly, and I already know of a few people who have confessed to being dividers, and are seeking to become uniters.

 

One of my favorite things about being a pastor is ministering to people through individual meetings, which often take place via post-church-service meals.  Charity, Autumn, and I went to lunch yesterday with a couple of families from the church, and then went to dinner with another family.  We’re trying to build relationships, and I feel we’re well on our way to succeeding.

 

Overall, we had a great Sunday.  At the time of writing this, I am in my study at the church and am ready for a full week of pressing hard to seek to effectively pastor the Lord’s church at Highland Park for His glory.

 

I am so thankful to be here!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Jeremy


Sunday Preview: Easter at Highland Park

April 6, 2012

Toward the end of every week, I plan on posting a “Sunday Preview” for you to know what’s happening at Highland Park.

This weekend, you will hear a couple of extra songs by our dynamic choir, praise team, and orchestra.  Then, I will preach my first sermon as Highland Park’s Pastor!  I’ll preach a message from Matthew 28:1-10 entitled “Prove It!”  The message will take an “apologetic” angle.  By “apologetic” I mean a perspective of defending the faith of Christianity.  There are five primary ways that antagonists of Christianity seek to disprove Jesus’ resurrection, and I’ll assist you in seeing the proof of Jesus’ resurrection by marching through Matthew 28:1-10, as well as marching through some unique historical sources for us to see that Jesus did in fact die and that He did in fact come back to life three days later.

Immediately prior to the message, you’ll see an off-the-hook video!  Check out the video below, as well as a five minute interview I did with WDYN 980 AM to invite people to Easter at Highland Park.

See you Sunday!

– Pastor Jeremy

Link: Dr. Roberts’ WDYN Easter Interview


From Pastor Search Committee’s Call to the Church’s Vote

April 3, 2012

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My mind is running in a multitude of different directions as I ponder the last couple of months.  The date was February 2nd.  I was sitting in a Walgreen’s parking lot in the early evening.  My phone rang and it was from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I answered, and it was a man calling from the historic Highland Park Baptist Church in downtown Chattanooga, TN.  The search committee received my résumé that very day in the mail, opened it up, and immediately called me.  Considering the amount of résumés HPBC received, it surely was a God-thing that they would pay any attention to the fact that a friend of mine felt led to recommend me to serve as Pastor of this church.

 

A couple of weeks later, I was asked about my schedule and we made plans for me to fly to Tennessee with my family to preach at Highland Park, to meet with the pastor search committee, and spend some time with a few staff members.  Another week passed, and I received a call from a member of the search team that they felt it was God’s will to call me as their new Pastor.  Throughout this entire process, Charity and I prayed fervently and also sensed God’s calling to Highland Park.

 

This past week, from Wednesday to Sunday, I met with people from early breakfasts to late dinners and everything in-between as I learned about the church.  I preached Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night.  The church voted to call me as pastor.  It was at this time that Charity and I wanted a minute to compose ourselves prior to going before the church to officially accept their invitation.

 

We stood on the stage after the chairman of deacons, Wes Hughen, announced the exciting news.  I stood on that stage with my daughter in one arm and the other arm around my wife.  I was in awe of the responsibility, of the opportunity, and of the clarity of God’s calling on my life.  Few things are sweeter than the clarity of God’s will for your life.

 

To conclude the evening, Drs. Steve Echols and David Bouler prayed over my family.  Then, we shook hands and were warmly greeted by the Highland Park family.

 

This entire process took two months, and I will preach my first sermon as pastor this Sunday (Easter, April 8th).  I praise the Lord for all He has done, and what I believe He will do if we stay faithful with Him.  Praise the Lord Jesus!

 

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New Family Pictures!

March 26, 2012

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