This past Sunday night we celebrated the retirement of our Family Pastor, Janice Bailey. Her and her husband, Bob, are moving to Mississippi (yes, I sang the jingle to spell that).
Hundreds of well-wishers came to share their love and appreciation for this incredible family.
As a pastor, I have been reflecting on the powerful influence that they have had on our church family.
More specifically, I have been thinking about WHY they have had such an incredible impact.
As I reflected on this, I thought of three distinctive qualities that Bob and Jan consistently demonstrated as members of ORBC:
Bob and Jan have been members of this church for over 30 years. Unlike many long time church members, they never came to a point where they said, “We’ve done our part. It’s time for someone else to step up.”
Instead, they faithfully attended, supported, and served, year in and year out.
They have been a constant encouragement to me simply by knowing that they would be here “in season and out.”
They epitomize the proverb:
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3, NIV)
When I came to ORBC in 1999, the church had just gone through a near death experience and was ready for change.
And change we DID!
The attendance skyrocketed those first few years and we changed nearly everything in the church except Jesus!
- From suits to casual
- The preaching style
- The music
- Sunday School was converted to small groups
- The children’s ministry
- The youth ministry
- From congregationalism to staff led
- From choir to worship band
- From 1 service to 3
- From committees to teams
- the list goes on and on
They have never once grumbled about all of the changes. Most of us grow comfortable with how things are. We naturally resist change. It takes incredibly mature believers to roll with the changes.
Jesus told the Pharisees:
“If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’—you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this.” (Matthew 12:7, The Message)
On top of all these changes, so did Bob and Jan’s role.
They have each served in dozens of ministry roles anywhere from volunteer to paid. Bob has served in everything from construction to youth ministry to the homeless outreach to deacon to School Partnership, and the list goes on and on. He’s “been everywhere man…”
Jan is a worker extraordinaire. She’s never afraid to roll up her sleeves and jump right in. She’s always worked with children in some capacity at ORBC, but just like Bob, she’s a “let’s get it done” kind of person that has imprints all over this church. (NOTE: Jan was even the church secretary for a year!)
What’s the real secret sauce behind great members like Bob and Jan? It’s their complete buy-in to the mission and vision. They totally get it.
Mature members don’t blindly follow their leadership anywhere. They filter everything through the lens of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission and wherever they see Jesus working, they join Him.
Bob and Jan have been a crucial part of leading hundreds of people to Jesus Christ.
Jan, through her many years of ministry with kids as both a volunteer and a paid staff, is driven by her own conversion experience as a little girl. She knows that everything boils down to changed lives and she hears the words of her Master saying, “Let the little children come unto me.”
Bob’s incredible compassion is like a magnet for the hurting. People in pain are drawn to him, and when they encounter Bob, they encounter Jesus. He has a heart as big as Texas (which, BTW, is bigger than Mississippi) and he shares a common trade with his Lord.
I’m convinced that if any pastor had a church full of members that are as faithful, flexible, and focused as the Baileys, they could storm hell with water pistols!
I’m honored that I have had these 15 years with them. They will be deeply missed.
I am a better pastor for having had them in my life.