SOS Hugh Halter

Hugh Halter is the national director of Missio,  committed to training, developing, and apprenticing Incarnational leaders for the church.  Hugh is the lead architect of Adullum, a congregational network of incarnational communities in Denver, CO.

Yes, we knew that merging churches would be like pushing water uphill, but after a long consultation with city leaders, consultants, and seeking God, all indicators pointed to forming a church that would reflect God’s heart to see diverse people on mission together and worshipping together.

The story of our church was on the front page of the Oregonian on Easter Sunday. The church began to swell and conversion stories were crazy and weekly!  It was going awesome . . . . For two months.

The pastoral arrangement was set up so that I would be the #2 man and focus my time on ministry development in the city, assimilation, evangelism, etc. All the stuff I loved doing.  The #1 guy would handle most of the preaching and care of the elderly. The stuff I didn’t like. It was a perfect match until the head deaconness communicated to many inside the congregation that she thought I should be the #1 guy.   Then it got ugly.

Early the next morning, I got a call from the head man accusing me of forming a coup, creating dissension, and then he forbid me to speak to anyone. And he cut our salary completely.

I was crushed in every way imaginable, then flat broke in two months. But I kept quiet believing that this level of spiritual warfare required my silence and prayer. The church continued to grow, but my heart and even my faith in God began to shrivel.

Did I not seek God in this?  Why would God give so many leaders confirmation only to leave me high and dry? Did I miss God’s will in my own flesh? Maybe I’m not or never have been fit to be in ministry anyway?  Thoughts like these came flooding over me.

I was losing my mind, my heart, and one night I vowed I’d never do church leadership again.

Eventually to avoid a church split, I quietly exiled my family out of our hometown, moved two hours south to Eugene and worked with a missions organization training church planters.  To be honest, my heart was barely in this either but I had to pay the bills.

Then, two months later, 9-11 happened and two weeks after that I was in Queens New York training church planters.  During one of our dinners out I met an Irish waitress named Fiona who over three days broke my heart and taught me about the Kingdom of God.  It was my second “conversion” and I was so broken for the lost again that I moved my family four months later to Denver, and we began with 4 people to live intentional incarnational community bent on making the Kingdom tangible.  Two years later another wild church had grown up underneath this jaded leader without us even wanting to pastor again.  Then two years later we wrote the book, The Tangible Kingdom, and have enjoyed an incredible rewrite of our calling and future and feel as if we’re the luckiest people in the world.

Could I have ever seen this? Never. If God had shown me that he was going to woo me back into pastoral work would I have re-upped? No.  Through God’s sovereign grace and not giving up on a jaded heart, he’s shown His power through my weakness, blindness, and shortsighted view of life and ministry. And now I’ve learned that God works all things out for good to those that love him and are called according to his purposes.

Hugh is a speaker at Exponential and author of The Tangible Kingdom, AND..the gathered and scattered church, TK Primer, and just released SACRILEGE.

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