New pastor seeks to reach families, neighborhood, world
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last Sunday afternoon, Everett Hills pastor Doug Hayes and his congregation convened at Everett Park for some good, old-fashioned family time that included plenty of food and fellowship.
It’s an annual event that members of Everett Hills Baptist Church look forward to each year. It was the first for Hayes as the new pastor, and it fits perfectly into Hayes’ plan at this church to build up families, neighborhoods and beyond.
Hayes grew up in Friendsville and was part of the congregation at First Baptist in Friendsville. He and his wife and children spent years on the mission field oversees and came back to Blount County in 2010. It was this past July that the congregation at Everett Hills asked him to be their pastor.
He said he was waiting on God to tell him where to go when he felt led to apply for the pastorship. “My prayer was simple,” he explained. “Lord, open the door that you want me to walk through and close all the doors you don’t want me to walk through.”
It’s only been a few months since Hayes took over leadership of this congregation, but they are already mapping out a path they believe will help them lovingly reach out and bring others to Christ. Hayes said he reminds the church it doesn’t take thousands to make a difference. “God took 12 disciples and changed the landscape of the world,” he pointed out. “We can certainly take a group of people and help change their neighborhoods, the nation and the world for Christ.”
The first thing Everett Hills is doing as it approaches 2013 is to define the areas of outreach and figure out a way to have an impact. The church will be defining where its Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are, the pastor said.
Like how to reach the neighborhood skateboarders who travel through their parking lot.
Hayes and his members aren’t wanting to close off access to that good skateboarding surface; Hayes said he has tossed around the idea of putting in a skateboard ramp. It’s all about seeing what is in front of you and using the resources to reach out, the pastor said.
Those coming up
The young generation is indeed one Hayes wants to nurture. This father of five with another on the way said there is great need for a generational mentorship where the older members invest in those coming up, to pass on leadership.
“Too many times we fail to start mentoring people and saying we want to invest in you,” Hayes said. “I don’t want to leave that generation behind.”
Hayes also believes that young pastors should be given the opportunity to preach any time they can. That’s why he will be offering his pulpit to them once a month.
When he was a young preacher, Hayes said he had seasoned ones walking alongside him, sharing their wisdom.
And when Christians come together and make a positive difference, that should be celebrated, Hayes said. That may be feeding the hungry in Blount County, visiting poor areas of Appalachia and supplying their physical and spiritual needs or sending someone off to the global mission field.
“We want to celebrate God,” he said.
Visible signs of life
Other ways Hayes and his congregation hope to reach out to families is by having a family night each week at a local bowling alley. There are discussions about holding a movies on the lot event where the community is invited out to watch a movie free of charge. It’s like the annual picnic, the pastor said, where Everett Hills and its guests get the chance to celebrate who they are as a family of God.
Everett Hills, which was founded in 1944, was instrumental in the past of starting up five other churches, and many preachers, teachers, leaders in the Christian faith have passed through its doors. Hayes said the church is on its way to more growth with a clear vision for the future. The two marks of a healthy church, Hayes believes, are a clear evangelical vision and a thirst for holiness.
He believes his time on the mission field overseas will help him lead right here at home. He entered areas where people had never heard the Gospel message.
“We look at Maryville as a missionary field,” the pastor said.
It might seem like a tall order for a small group of believers, but Hayes said he holds onto the promise God made. Jesus’ Great Commission says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 19-20).
“As a pastor I will continue to remind my church that we will accomplish this because God said it,” the pastor said. “We are guaranteed we can accomplish it if we keep our eyes on the task. Keep it simple. Reach the families. Reach the neighborhoods. Reach the nation. Reach the world.”
After all, Hayes added, missions work isn’t a duty, it’s a lifestyle.