Sunday Bulletin Article – January 27, 2013 – Where's Jeff

Where’s Jeff?

By Jeff Bills, Lead Pastor

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked, “Are you okay?” “Are you on some kind of sabbatical?” “Have you retired?!”

These comments are the result of the fact that Pastor Rick Court has been preaching for the last three weeks.

Here’s the real story ….

One of my leadership adages that I have taught and tried to embody from the very beginning of HOPE is, “Faith is a team sport.” Jesus did his life and ministry side by side with others and taught them to do likewise.

One of the absolute joys during these past 23 years has been developing teams for each area of ministry and then working together to cast a vision; raise up leaders and resources; and unleash them in service to others. The very first teams were formed in 1989 before HOPE held its first public worship service. At that time, I divided our core group of 12 people into three teams, each with a specific task: one team wrote our mission statement; one developed a worship  service that would speak to people who did not currently attend church; and one team organized our outreach effort. These teams laid the foundation for all that has happened during the past three decades. Such is the influence of doing ministry as a team rather than depending on individual superstars.

This concept of ministry as team even includes the preaching ministry. Ever since our Sojourn worship service merged with HOPE worship back in July of last year, Pastor Rick and I have been “team teaching.” While we have always developed our preaching series in a team setting; now, we have the opportunity to share preaching                                 responsibilities. Even though this approach is relatively new and we are still developing the best way to make it work, we have already seen tremendous benefits. While we both have a distinct preaching style, I view them as being complimentary. More importantly, I believe that the HOPE community benefits from our distinct approaches. Consistency and variety both have value in a teaching environment. When we’re not preaching, we have more time to work on upcoming messages and series, which we hope will enhance our teaching   each week.

The other piece to this is that while preaching is clearly the most visible part of Rick’s ministry and mine, we both have other  substantial responsibilities throughout the week. So, while we both believe that preaching is our highest priority, it isn’t our only priority. I spend time in strategic planning, staff and resource development, working with various ministry teams, individual counseling and mentoring. Rick leads our mission trips ministry, lobby ministries, and ministry staff leadership. Having some weeks off from developing the message allows for additional time to be invested in these other critical areas.

As we continue to develop our approach to team teaching, we welcome your feedback. Talk to me or Rick in the lobby. Shoot us an email. Set up a time to meet. The thing about any team is it always needs encouragement, and it can always improve.

At the end of the day, we do faith and life best in teams.








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