Every now and then God is feeling especially benevolent and he decides to give someone a gift too precious for words. For some reason He has chosen to bestow such an unfathomable gift upon Stephanie and me…and more than once. Let me tell you about one of those gifts.
When Stephanie and I visited Lakeside Church (since rebranded Highpointe Church) we met Pastors Darren and Michelle Pilcher. We quickly made the decision to join this church, and so we invited the Pastor’s family to our home for a meal and fellowship.
Of course, at that time we didn’t know the Pilchers very well, and they weren’t familiar with us either. That was one reason for the dinner – to get to know each other. If you’ve ever been invited by or invited folks you don’t know well, you know how uncomfortable such an evening can be. This one wasn’t.
From the moment Pastors Darren and Michelle, and their kids walked through our front door we could tell these were “our kind of folks”. I was out on the patio grilling the chicken, and Pastor Darren came out to chat with me. And while Stephanie was putting the finishing touches on her famous salad she and Michelle talked and laughed in the kitchen.
As the meal progressed so did the conversation. We talked about the fact that we grew up in the same denomination, the Assemblies of God. And we talked about our similar backgrounds, with Godly parents and ministerial work. We talked religion, we talked politics, we talked about kids and houses and cars. We could have talked all night. I didn’t want it to end.
There are certain things - subtle things - that let you know someone is comfortable with you. When Pastor Darren casually reached with his fork and stabbed a second chicken breast it told me two things. First, he approves of my grilling. Grilling is a source of pride for the American male…and I’m no exception. So for that I was proud. But it also showed me that this wasn’t just a pastor doing the obligatory dinner with the new members. These folks are REAL!
After dinner Pastor Darren, his son Ethan and I retired to the “man cave” to shoot pool, with a movie playing in the background. I think it was “Braveheart”. Pastor shot a pretty good stick! And Ethan even made a few good shots. All the while, Stephanie and Michelle were downstairs talking…and talking…and talking. Emma had discovered the dolls we have for our granddaughter, so everybody was in their element.
I remember telling Pastor Darren that if he ever needed to “get away” from having to be the straight-laced Pastor guy, just come on over and we’ll let our hair down. What I didn’t realize at that time was that Pastor Darren doesn’t do the straight-laced Pastor Guy. His hair is always down!
I could write about the churches Pastors Darren and Michelle have built, or the mission trips they have taken – ministering to thousands. I could write about the people they have prayed for and the words from the Lord they have delivered. Those stories would be many and they would be exciting. But what I wanted to write about tonight is simply how REAL these precious people are.
Pastors Darren and Michelle are moving into a new chapter in their lives and ministries, and so they are resigning as pastors. In fact, today was their final day of service to Highpointe, at least in the pastoral capacity. And while I am excited to see what new thing God has in store for the church, and how I will fit in with that new thing, I am saddened to see them go.
Pastors Darren and Michelle; thank you for your service. But especially, thank you for your friendship. It’s been… … … REAL!