Courtney Hickman is a seasoned pastor who launched a church only months before Covid-19 changed the landscape of what gathering as a church looked like for the whole nation. He draws a practical line between his time in the service and his time as a pastor – and gives us all some keys to apply in our ministry context.
When COVID began to spread throughout the US, many churches had to learn how to pivot quickly to keep their community members safe and connected to God. Adopting new changes with little to no time to plan is already difficult for existing church leadership. Now, take that challenge, and apply it to launching a new church on your own! It takes a special dedication to God to plant a new church in the midst of a pandemic, and on today’s podcast, we’re talking to Pastor Courtney Hickman on how he accomplished exactly that.
Pastor Courtney takes his previous military experience and translates it into a unique take on what it means to be obedient to God’s word. Military life isn’t easy by any means. But, one benefit is training to adjust to new situations quickly and effectively. This training taught Pastor Courtney to be sensitive to the voice of God and His commands. When he decided to launch his church from home earlier this year, it was a simple plan – no fancy lights or professional production equipment. Just a pastor, the Word, and a live stream on Facebook. Pastor Courtney admits that initially, he did feel a little behind the curve compared to major churches. But the simplicity in his services turned the tides in his favor and produced a growing audience.
One of the keys to his success lies in unwavering obedience to God’s commands. Every August, Pastor Courtney and his family engage in a month-long sabbatical. Some might not agree with this, but Courtney remains devoted to his faith. And truly, faith doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. It’s the simple dedication to God’s word that allows us to be true Jesus followers. There are specific rhythms and commitments we keep when we live day-to-day. Unfortunately, some people start to skip on these commitments now that our normal script has changed. When we take part in these daily rhythms, we pledge ourselves to a healthier life that keeps us focused on what’s important. The danger in losing that focus lies in friendly fire amongst each other.
Friendly fire happens when we publicly disagree with one another. This is especially true when we disagree on political matters. The world will keep on changing as it does, but that doesn’t grant us permission to turn on one another when our communication gets disrupted. To be Holy, it means to be set apart, to be different. The Bible mandates that we follow this distinction, and that includes how we hold each other accountable. No matter where you look in life, we’re following mandates, whether we’re stopping at red lights or wearing a seatbelt. We do these things because these are the rules. Unfortunately, it’s too easy for a lot of us to look at the Bible’s mandates and say, “Yeah, but…what about xyz?” Too often, we ignore the little Biblical misdemeanors we commit in life, thinking it’s not a big deal. But over time, like raindrops, these transgressions collect over time, and before you know it, you’re faced with a flood. As pastors and leaders in the church community, it’s our role to hold our teams accountable. That’s responsible shepherding.