Last Sunday I spoke about transition and as some missed it [23% were absent] I record it here. Incidentally in large London churches 23% is about right for normal congregational response, or lack of it, and even more in some cases.
When my dear wife died on January 11th 2014 after 47 years illness and six months intensive suffering, I realised that not only had I lost my best friend but HICC had lost its senior pastor. She was a mighty force in the assembly. She was hands-on in many departments, and organised the whole place efficiently. It was then that I also realised that HICC needed a married couple because women see what men don’t, and she was invaluable at prophetic foresight and perception. Our pillow talk yielded a wealth of spiritual understanding. I could not at 80 form another relationship of such intensity and unity.
So, for the good of HICC I decided that transition should take place. I am still able to preach without any deterioration in thinking or preparation, have enough energy and strength to continue and am able to speak and promote vision. That has not dimmed. I am 80 but look 70 and feel 60 so there is life in the old dog yet, but HICC must come first. My life has been a succession of giving things up for the good of God’s will. Why change now? I had set in motion two years previously such a transition, but human nature being what it is we believe all men are mortal but ourselves, nothing was really set in motion.
On reflection I decided that a minister who was known to HICC and who visited regularly, usually annually, and his wife would be ideal for that transition, and he was approached and responded positively. However as I began to sell up in Hampton and move to Solihull, where I had originally come from 30 years earlier, things became untoward. The guy dropped out and I could not stay my move, contracts were signed, removal men arranged, moving home was certain and inevitable. It had to proceed. This left HICC in the lurch, as they say, leaderless, except I am Founding Pastor and will remain so until I die, but living 110 miles away.
I now travel back and preach either once or twice a month, and fortunately Pamela drives me down. I will keep doing that until a new man is appointed. The executive council and cabinet are joined in unity to see HICC prosper and are behind me and for the church. They believe ‘things’ will pan out well in God. Thus, we wait and pray and seek God’s face, HICC is a miracle of growth and blessing and truly a multinational church; indeed a microcosm of heaven.
When I sought God to know if I should move and transition should take place I was motivated by His word. I came to London 31 years ago through a text: “The priests left the suburbs and their possessions and came to Jerusalem.” I now needed such a text so in my daily reading and praying over moving and transition this was His word: “Do all that is within thy heart, for God is with you.” [1 Chronicles 17:1]. If I had written that text myself and inserted it into the Bible it couldn’t have been more certain. Although I had read that text at least 62 times [once a year since I was 18] it had never registered. Behind all this is God, what He is doing I do not know, and how He will respond likewise, but He will not leave the place he has blessed shepherd-less.
Twenty years ago a visiting preacher, Ken Newton, a prophet, came to HICC and said “you are vanguard, the leader of the pack, and will initiate and innovate leadership in the area.” But the emphasis was that we were a warship not a cruise liner. The difference is quite strong. Those on a cruise ship pay for at least two things – a good meal menu and entertainment, and at the slightest sense of danger run for the lifeboats.
On the other hand on a battle ship everyone is staff, they have a good basic menu but with no fancy dishes, and are paid a minimal wage. When danger arises they stay in their positon and with the Captain go down if they have to, but have excellent accident and emergency facilities for they are in a war.
My question to you as we sail through this boisterous sea of transition is – which ship do you want to be on? The battle ship has one objective, defeat the enemy, and those on a cruise ship: let’s enjoy ourselves. Often we cannot see the enemy because they are detected by radar and are over the horizon, but long range firing is essential for we fight not against flesh and blood but powers of darkness in high places. If we get injured, and life itself can often do that, we have [HICC] has, excellent emergency provision for healing.