By Mike Hess
One of the rich comforts of knowing that God is sovereign is the assurance that He rules over transitions and seasons in our lives. This is a new season for my family, as well as for my former church and our association of churches. Thankfully, we can anchor our hope in the fact that God’s grace is sufficient for each transition.
Over the upcoming months and years, you will hear me repeat the phrase “making disciples through healthy local churches.” These words encapsulate the essence of our association. Making disciples is the mandate that Christ has given to His church (Matt. 28:19–20). Scripture is the authoritative and sufficient standard that teaches what healthy local churches should look like, which is Christlikeness. We must never forget that our association is made up of autonomous local churches that rally around a distinctive doctrinal statement that binds us together.
My wife, Christina, and I have been fielding many questions for the past few months from those who are wondering how this transition is going. I’m taking this opportunity to have a “coffee chat” with you, answering questions perhaps you’d like to ask and letting you know what the Lord is doing in our lives.
What are you most looking forward to as national representative?
I’m looking forward to traveling with Christina, to ministering in local churches, and to working with the Resource Center staff. It will be good to get to know churches in our association and their pastors and wives and church leaders, and to be more intimately involved with the day-to-day operations of our association. Christina and I are excited about getting reacquainted with the Chicago area and taking in a few Cubs games.
How did your church in Mt. Pleasant handle the transition?
The days before our departure were both sad and encouraging for all of us. The church was very supportive of God’s leading, having prayed for the association to be led faithfully for God’s glory. We’re incredibly grateful to have been a part of such a precious church for the past nine years.
What are your passions for ministry and how do you see them impacting your role as national representative?
My passions center on marriage and family, expository preaching, Biblical sufficiency, mentoring, local church health, outreach, Biblical counseling, international ministries, spiritual disciplines, hermeneutics, and writing. All these areas have direct impact on my new ministry role. In addition, I desire to advance church recruitment for our association and reconnect with churches that have withdrawn from the fellowship.
What initiatives would you like to implement soon?
I’m planning on leading our team to produce video interviews and promotions and podcasts (watch for more info in upcoming issues of the Baptist Bulletin and on garbc.org). In addition, I want to increase our social media presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Through expanded media venues, we will be addressing a variety of topics, including practical church ministry, preaching helps, theological issues or controversies, and association updates/announcements.
What has been your biggest surprise so far with this new position?
Hands down, the biggest surprise has been the scope and size of this ministry. Even though I served on the Council of Eighteen for six years, it wasn’t until I experienced the day-to-day operations that I realized the vastness and complexity of this ministry. I’ve been blessed with an outstanding and capable Resource Center staff. They’ve already exhibited Christlike servants’ hearts in a myriad of ways.
What has been your biggest adjustment moving back to Chicagoland?
No longer do I have a 2-mile drive to work in a community of roughly 8,000 people. Now I get to enjoy a 28-mile trek to work in Chicago traffic every day. This has been great for my progressive sanctification. Outside of that, we’re adjusting to the overall pace of life that we experienced years ago as a young married couple. Thankfully, we’re already familiar with the area both geographically and culturally.
What will you miss most about pastoring?
Mostly I will miss the people, but also the weekly journey of discovering, developing, and delivering Biblical text to God’s people. I’m glad the position of national representative will give me many opportunities to preach the Word in various settings.
How can we pray for you?
Please pray that Christina and I would continue to walk closely with God and His Word. Pray also for our children as they adapt to this move and for us as we connect with a solid local church. We desire to faithfully build redemptive relationships with the intent of sharing the gospel with the lost. Also, I need Biblical wisdom in transitioning to this new position.
Christina and I were greatly encouraged at how God worked at the GARBC conference in Fishers, Indiana. Many of you have encouraged us by way of notes, text messages, emails, cards, and phone calls. We sincerely thank you for being such a blessing as we assume this new ministry role. It’s our sincere desire to glorify the name of our Savior by serving this association with faithfulness and integrity.
Mike Hess is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.