Commissioning prayer acknowledges our participation in the move of the Holy Spirit in our world.
:01 From Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thank you for tuning in. Welcome to Westside. Speaker 3
00:19 Morning, everybody. It's great to see you. My name is Steve Mickle, and I can say for the last time, one of the senior pastors here at Westside. And if you haven't, been in the loop, I, this is my last Sunday as a senior pastor, that might come to it as a shock for some people. If this is the first time you're hearing about it. We've been, kind of processing this over the last month, and it's hard to believe that we're here. at this moment, after 16 years of me being, part of this church body, we've seen some real ups and downs together. I'm thinking about Covid in particular, and just the massive change that that kind of caused in the body of Christ at large, not just West side. And, and, and then of course, many of you walked with Suzanne and I at the loss of our oldest son Chase. And so we've been through a lot together. And, and I'm grateful, to each of you, especially those of you that kinda stuck it out, through those really difficult seasons and engaged in greater ways over these past few years. So, lemme pray and we'll dive into the word today. Jesus, this is your church. Speaker 3
01:29 You're at the top, you're in the middle. You're all the way through it, that you, by your spirit, would continue to lead West Side into the great future it has in this community. We're grateful, father, for all that you have done through this body over these last many years, and all that you will do in the future. We give you this time, be in it in Jesus' name. Amen. Well, we're in a series on prayer, and so I don't want to, I don't want to go too far away from that. and there's this, type of prayer that was often, often used by the early church called Commissioning prayers. And, and so we felt like this was a good Sunday for that as you guys commissioned, my wife and I into our next season. but before we get to that, I want to kind of talk to you just personally about a couple of things just that I see for West Side that I, I feel like even just in the last hour or so, God's been kind of depositing into me to, to share with you. Speaker 3
02:35 and, you know, most churches organize themselves in one of three ways. I'm sorry, I'm, this is a little bit of my PhD work that I'm doing, so bear with me for just a moment.
03:23 And, and so when I thought about, sharing this, I was like, you may not know this, but as a Foursquare church that's part of our denomination, we are what's called a modified Episcopal, which means a couple of things. We're not congregational, nor are we Presbyterian. we're more Episcopalian, which has kind of a strong leadership, leader centric, with lead pastors being, kind of the ones that that lead the local church along with district supervisors who oversee pastors with general supervisors who oversee district supervisors. You guys get to meet Wendy and Lesco, if you didn't meet her the last time she was here, she'll be here next weekend. so we have this kind of top down, but we're modified because we have a group called the Church Council, which is a group of leaders that help us with the financial integrity of our church. Speaker 3
04:09 And then, we're kind of congregational in that you get to, affirm the council members who, who are, who serve us as council, as your kind of elected representatives. And so we're, we kind of a mix, but we're mostly Episcopalian. and that's, that's important to know, especially in this process. Now, the reason I tell you that is not to like, I'm in charge and that's the way it is. That kinda how it sounded just a second ago. That's not the way it I say it because all three systems of government and church, we share this in common, that the Holy Spirit is not really in it. And when I say that, I'm not saying like he's not part of it, he is, but you can't find him on the, on the, on the org chart of any one of these three. Speaker 3
04:53 And what we've inadvertently done, especially in the West, is we have, we have heightened the voice of people, whether it's leader centric, elder centric, or congregational centric. We've elevated their voices and, and at the same time diminished the voice of the Holy Spirit. And one of the things that, we have felt as we moved into this transition is that we wanted to not diminish the voice of leaders, but to elevate the voice of the spirit that we are le that he is leading. And we are following Pastor Ken Johnson, my, predecessor here as senior pastor of Westside Church for years. He would often say that we are discerners, not deciders, that we, we, we are simply listening to the voice of the spirit and trying to, to follow him and where he's leading the church. And that's what this is, Suzanne and i's transition, and Ben and Evan becoming the, the co-pastor, senior pastors of this church without me, all of this is in response to the voice of the spirit. Speaker 3
05:57 And we see this in, in the early church. I mentioned this a few weeks ago in Acts chapter 13. You wanna just highlight it one more time. it's a amazing church called Antioch. And among in that church, there were prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria where Barnabas Simeon, called the black man, Lucius Manan, Saul. And one day, as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said that, I want that to be true for us, for West Side Church now and into the future that we hear the voice of the Spirit saying. And he said, specifically, in this case, dedicate Barnabas and solve for the special work to which I've called them. So after more fasting in prayer, do you see the centrality of prayer and fasting in the hearing of the, the voice of the Holy Spirit? Speaker 3
06:45 It's so important that we take this time, this Wednesday to seek God's face together for the future of West Side Church to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. And we're going to, do that practically at the end of this message. And I love that the prophets and teachers were highlighted. These were, these were, men that led, that helped lead the church with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was, was part of it. They were discerning, simply discerning what the Spirit was saying. and fasting and prayer was a regular part of their rhythm. And I don't know if the Holy Spirit spoke out loud like a booming voice or if there was just this sense of the spirit speaking through these leaders. but they received a clear word from God. Speaker 3
07:35 And I can tell you that I and the team here, we've received a clear word from God. and I say that because, I've told so many pastors recently, I ha I I had a good thing going here to lead a church like West Side has been a privilege. And, and I will miss it tremendously. I just don't, Suzanne, this morning as we were driving in that I'm, I'm leaving west side with energy. Most pastors who leave pastoring leave without any energy. They just got to the end of their rope and they can't go any further. And because of you and this, and the culture of this body, I'm, I'm taking, I'm you're sending me with energy
08:37 and we're gonna see a model of just this kind of sending in, in just a moment. I think it's significant. We're both get to do that this week, but also next week as we, as we install Ben and Evan as the co-pastors of this church. But before we get there, I wanted to say a couple of things to you. A few things actually. and this has changed what I've wanted to say to you three times. The most recent time was about 30 minutes ago,
09:29 And, it's what I shared. Part of it is what I shared with a group of pastors that I'm, I'm gonna be overseeing. I had an opportunity this past week to share with them what I felt like God was. When, when God told me that he wanted me to become the district supervisor over the Northwest District of Foursquare Churches, he began to drop into my spirit what he wanted me to bring into that context as a leader. And, and I, and immediately I began to see that this, the very things that God was dropping in my heart are some of what I've tried to deposit to you. Speaker 3
10:09 So I want to just kind of remind you of some things that I've, that I feel like God, that, that the Holy Spirit's tried to do over the last 10, 10 years as I've been your senior pastor. First thing was Antioch was, was the first church where Christ followers were called Christians. And that's fascinating to me. And as I've thought about that and prayed about that, I felt like, and this is gonna sound really exclusive and I don't mean it to be that way at all, but one of my greatest desires for West Side is that we would define true Christianity for a new generation. There's a lot of different renditions of Christianity right now on social media and on the news. And everywhere you look, there's just kind of a different, like that's a different Christian and that's a different Christian. And there's not this like, and and so there's this idea that I have about true Christianity, what it actually means to be a follower of Jesus, where people could look at West siders and go, that's what it means to follow Jesus. That's what they look like, that's what they're supposed to look like. And that we would be a body that that embodies the way of Jesus, his life and his love. And we, when we capture for a community outside of the church that this is what it means to be in love with Jesus, this is what it means to follow his word. This is what it looks like. Speaker 3
11:41 And I want us to be that into the future by the way that we live, by the way that we love. You know, when Barnabas heard, what was, when the church in Jerusalem heard what was going on in Antioch, they sent Barnabas as their representative to find out. And this was what he said, I saw the evidence of God's grace, the evidence of God's grace. That was his first impression of the church in Antioch. And I want that. And I, I believe it is the first impression when people run into westsiders. It's, you're in evidence of God's grace. I know what it means because of relationship with you. I now know what it means to be a true Christian. You're redefining for me, for our community what it looks like to follow Jesus. The second thing that I felt like God wanted me to deposit into the pastors in our district, and what I felt like maybe God has helped through me to deposit here is a culture of authenticity and vulnerability. Speaker 3
12:45 Some ways I didn't have a choice on this one.
13:43 And, I lasted in the ministry because of how you embraced Suzanne and me and our grief, how you loved us, and our brokenness, how you accepted us with all my failings. I remember the first Sunday I was lead pastor, I was sharing, it was, we did, we were right in the middle of a series called What Would Jesus Say To, and we would, we went through different figures. And so my, my installation Sunday, we decided to go, what would Jesus say to Steve
14:38 And I was like, oh, well, I guess this is gonna be the definition of my ministry, is that kind of vulnerability and, sorry, mom, right? And this, this, and I want us to be, and I believe we are. So all of these are things that we are, but I want us to continue to be a church that can be trusted with other people's brokenness. A church that can be trusted with people's questions and doubts and uncertainties about our faith that they can, that it can be a safe and brave place for people to share openly and honestly about their stuff. And they're not gonna find condemnation that this church would be known as a place that receives the hurting and hopeless. Third thing that I love, Antioch was a refuge. So it says in Acts chapter 11 that there were, people that fled the persecution of the church. Speaker 3
15:31 That, that began, in Jerusalem. They fled, many of them fled to Antioch. And that was kind of the foundation of the church was a refuge for those, that were fleeing persecution. And it was a place where people could find themselves as part of a community and worship together. And then not only were initially were Jewish people, but then all of a sudden God began to bring Gentiles. And so now you have this amazing mix in this church of Jews and Gentiles. And it was the first place in the early church where these two groups got along. And there was this amazing community that, that embraced the other, those that were different, those that weren't, that weren't necessarily part of the in group people that you didn't think would be Christians, these Gentile people. They were a part of this thing together. And it was beautiful. And I want West Side to be that place where we can be a diverse church that embraces those on the margins, the people that maybe don't feel like they fit in a church. That this can be a space for that, for collaboration and connection and community. A place for the disenchanted and de-churched. Speaker 3
16:40 There are so many of you who you didn't just give Jesus a second chance. Most of you were already with Jesus, but you give, you've given the church a second chance because of west side. And can't the won't that be amazing for that to be part of the, our future story as a church, that we're a place where the deed church come in and they, they learn again, not just to love Jesus, but to love his body, his people. Another thing that I feel like I'm bringing into the district that I deposited here with God's help was a sense of shared leadership, not just with the co co-pastor. That's significant for sure,
18:13 I was deciding whether to share something personal about my team, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna do that with them personally. We have an amazing team here. A gift, people who serve so faithfully. And then one other thing I wanted to mention that, it's just kind of begun over the last year, is a hunger for God's spirit. I I remember sharing with you, my sabbatical last year where I was at the, I was at Bryce Canyon on, on June 16th, the six year anniversary of, of Chase's death. And, and if you remember the story, I wanted this grand like move of God, right? Like, like him, like shouting from the heavens. I love you Steve. You know, this kind of like, I'm with you, you know, that's what I wanted.
19:05 I got some other things, if you remember, I'm not gonna tell the whole story again. Some really beautiful things that I didn't quite catch because I wanted this big thing and all I got at the time, that's how I felt. All I got was, the whisper of Jesus saying, is my spirit not enough? And it wasn't a rebuke, it was more of an invitation that all that we have, all that we need is accessible to us through the Holy Spirit. It was this invitation to go deeper into his presence, intimacy with him, to learn to hear his voice at a deeper level. And that's my prayer for West Side Church. It's my prayer for being in evidence, my prayer for all of us that we would go deeper into the things of the spirit, to hear his voice, to walk according to his will. Speaker 3
19:50 I want that for you, just as I want that for me. I'm gonna share one more thing, but before we do that, I want us to take communion together. And I want us to do it a little bit different today. If you, as you came in, hopefully you were given or you saw the communion elements there, to take one. If you didn't gra if you didn't get one, would you just raise your hand and maybe if we had some ushers or some yeah, just raise your hand and they'll get one to you. cuz we're gonna do this together today. Speaker 3
20:22 Everything we do as a church community flows out of what Jesus has done for us. Everything, the way that we worship, the way that we teach, the way that we lead our community groups, the way that we serve one another, the way that we do community as and, and the way that we teach our children and be with them the way that we do youth ministry. Everything flows from what Jesus has done for us. His sacrifice for us is the defining value of how we live in community here, to lay our lives down for the other. So I can't think of a better thing for us to do as we launch into the next season of, as a church, is to take communion together. It both reminds us of what, how God got us to this point and how he's gonna take us into the future. So would you, go ahead and open the bread side and take out that little cracker and, and would you just kind of put it, just raise it up a little bit in your hand as an offering. We take this bread broken for us as a reminder of the body that was broken for the forgiveness of our sins. And would you say out loud, Christ's body broken for me? Go ahead.
21:48 Christ's body, Speaker 3
21:50 Go ahead and partake carefully open the juice there as well. And the juice is a reminder of the blood of Christ poured out for us. That brings healing, reconciliation, restoration,
22:22 His Speaker 3
22:23 Blood poured out for us, changes everything and how we love and how we serve and how we give of ourselves to others. And so would you raise this in your hands and would you say out loud, Christ's blood poured out for me? Go ahead. Go ahead and partake. I'm gonna pray a prayer. I pray almost every day. Would you, would you just reach out your hands like this? Lord Jesus, you stretched out your arms of love upon the hardwood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace. So clothe us in your spirit that we reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you for the honor of your name. Amen. There's one last thing that the Antioch Church did that I just wanna mention. Speaker 3
23:47 Antioch was the first church to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. And by the laying on of hands of Paul and Barnabas and sending them out. It was a significant moment cuz Paul and Barnabas would come back. Paul in particular would come back to Antioch no less than three or four times. And as a place of refuge, a place where he could reconnect, just, just be refilled by the work of the spirit where he would teach on occasion, he would come back to this place and then he would be sent out again by the church to go back on his missionary journeys. He did that at least three times and it was ascending church. And West Side Church is known across our denomination as a resource church, a church that sends a church, that resources other churches, that helps other communities that, that reaches out beyond the borders of, of our kind of our community in to help other people. Speaker 3
24:42 I think about Beau Stern, pastor Beau, some of you know Beau really well, and she hasn't been around here very often over the last year. That's because she's been at Beaverton four Square Church and recently was appointed there as the interim pastor because they're in a pastoral transition. Casey Parnell Casey's there as well. He's their creative director. Something he did for us for years. We have an intern, a former intern, planning a church in Idaho right now. I don't know if you knew that. Think about Nita Bells, who's part of our church and founded in Our Backyard, which is a, is a, a organization fighting against human trafficking all over our nation. Chris Wicker. Evan's mom is always involved out in the community. And right now she's involved in Kindred connections. We're just, we're sending and resourcing church. We are, people who lay hands on people and send them out and empower them to do the work of Jesus. Speaker 3
25:35 And so sending Suzanne and me out to oversee and encourage the Foursquare churches in the Northwest is simply part of that vision. It's an extension. It's just extending who we are as a community where we get continue to be part of you. where Suzanne and I aren't leaving, we'll leave for a while. You know, you won't see us around for a few months, boom. But this is, this is our church. Well, we get to live in central Oregon while I do this new job. We get to attend here, we get to minister here, we get to be a part of you. And I'm excited about that. But in a sense, we're another tributary in the life giving spirit of God flowing through this house as we go out and minister. That's why today is significant. That's why this moment is significant. As you lay hands on Suzanne and me and you send us out, Speaker 3
26:34 It's fascinating. I just didn't even thought about this until just now where I was at the, our national conference of, you know, 4,000 pastors and, and you know, as I step into a new leadership role within the denomination, there was no laying on of hands. There was no prayer for Suzanne and me and that, and it's fascinating to me. And I was kinda like, huh, I wonder why we don't do that. And then it just occurred to me just now, because they're not sending us, you are, we're not an extension of Foursquare. We're an extension of Westside Church moving into this new season. And and I think that's significant that the Holy Spirit through you is sending us as your obedient. And Suzanne and I are obedient to the work of God. I wanna invite Suzanne up and, she's gonna share a little bit with you about this next season and whatever God put on her heart to share, and then I'll share a little something and then, and then we'll have a team of people come up and pray for us. So Susie, Speaker 4
27:37 I just, really just wanted to, say how grateful I am, for the last 16 years here. And, as I walked through this morning when the worship team was practicing, I quickly walked through and left because I didn't wanna start in on the Kleenex yet. but, I was reminded that, we actually came here in 1995. I remember it clearly because Chase was six months old and, and Pastor Ken invited, Steve to come and, plant a church and sisters, but be here first, build a team and plant a church and sisters. So, west Side has been ascending, has sent us before. and I really just wanted to share that. we've been in pastoral ministry together for 29 years. We've been married for 30. and I am leaving in a place where, my tank is completely full. Speaker 4
28:36 I all I feel is gratefulness, for the years of ministry that we've had together in this pastoral sort of way. which I think is probably somewhat unique to have that experience. And I credit it to, to, this beautiful place that we call Westside Church, which is our church. All of our church is what makes this place beautiful. and also, Steve and I's marriage is the healthiest it's ever been. and we've been in ministry for 29 years. So I'm super, super grateful. all I would ask of you guys is that you keep loving and caring for your leaders in the same way that you did for us. and that you would do that for each other. Love and care for each other in the, in the way that it's been. That's Speaker 3
29:21 It. That's good. Susie. Yeah, I think there's a little bit of, trauma, trauma bonding that's happened with us and you guys. So we're, you're stuck with us,
30:06 In just a moment, we're gonna invite the council and leadership team as well to join us for time of prayer. but Steve, as you mentioned, acts 13, we know that it was the Holy Spirit in that passage that made the decision and initiated the move for Paul and Barnabas to be sent out. And in the same way we are here, not because, you know, you decided, ah, I'm gonna try something new. It isn't because, you know, president Randy of the denomination came and said, I want you for this is because at some point the Holy Spirit had this moment in mind. And so today as your church in just a moment, well, we're gonna do our part. but before we do that, I just want to acknowledge that you have done your part, both you and Suzanne in such a beautiful, authentic way.
30:58 And I think there's an expectation for pastoral pastoral ministry and for pastors to like have this standard of perfection and to lead from perfection. And you've shown us so beautifully, that it is in a place of humility and genuine care and an understanding of your own brokenness. When you lead from there, you can actually invite people along. And I think this room and next services room and those watching from afar are a testament to what happens when you lead in that way. And so now we're gonna do our part and we're gonna send you into a new season knowing that we're not sending you too far, but it's just a new, it's a new way, that we will continue to benefit, from what God has put in you and how you're gonna lead now, not just for West Side Church, but for hundreds of others in our district. And we're grateful for that. pastor Ben, Speaker 5
31:51 I've got one. Thanks. yeah, we're so thankful for you. and even more so specifically for this time. We're thankful that we get to be a people that send you again, what an honor it is to play such a vital role in what God is doing in our denomination, our district, but in our region, in our world. and to be able to be a people that aren't so tight fisted that we're gonna hold on to these good things that we have to share them with. The rest of the world is such an honor. so we're gonna lay hands on you guys and pray for you. Any members of the council that are here, if you could come up and, help us. Dave, if you want to come up, Kim, Kim, if you can come up, I'm gonna pray for you guys and then, we'll have Jenny pray as a representative of the council and then Dave pray as a representative of the leadership team.
32:50 Lay your hands up
32:51 And if you would just stretch your hands out as well towards Steven, Suzanne, Speaker 5
32:58 father God, we just share one last time our thankfulness for this last season, and now we enter into a new kind of thankfulness where we get to let go of the thing that we have held so dear Speaker 5
33:15 And Lord, we pray that, we would have the confidence to know that nothing has changed as far as your presence with us or with them. That that truly the, the two that need to stay together, which is us and your Holy Spirit. None of that is changing in the least. Mm-hmm.
34:17 Thank you Lord. Speaker 5
34:18 Amen. Speaker 7
34:19 Thank you Jesus. Speaker 8
34:21 Lord God, we thank you so much for Steve and Suzanne and all they have brought to us. Lord, you gift people to be used in certain ways. And I know that you have gifted Steve and Suzanne to love and support others. And I can't think of a better couple to do that with our fourscore pastors who need the support continually and need the love of others. Lord God, I thank you for their willingness and their kindness in this. So I send them Lord with others here just in a way to, just bless them. Lord, I pray that, not only are we blessing them, but your Holy Spirit is just falling upon them in a blessing as we send them Jesus. So we thank you so much in Jesus' name. Speaker 7
35:13 Thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord. Speaker 6
35:15 I asked the Lord, God, what would you say to Steven, Suzanne in this, this moment stepping into a new season? And he gave me, the verse Micah six, eight, and the prophet Micah is reminding the people of Israel, who they are and how they are to be in this world. And this seems, a word for you too. As you step into this new role. He has shown you Steve and Suzanne, what is good and what does the Lord require of Steve and Suzanne to act justly Yes Speaker 7
35:56 Jesus Speaker 6
35:57 To love mercy, yes Speaker 7
35:59 Lord, Speaker 6
36:00 And to walk humbly with your God. Jesus. This is Lord the north star of your people, all of us. And we bestow that, that blessing and reminder on Steven, Suzanne when they step into this new season. Yes, Lord, that can be a whirlwind and can be confusing and can be challenging. Lord, would they be reminded God of who they are to be Lord? Yes. Jesus. To walk justly yes to love mercy. Speaker 7
36:30 Yes, Jesus. Speaker 6
36:31 To live humbly with you. God. Yes. Jesus. And that will be sufficient. Speaker 7
36:36 Yes, Lord. Thank you Jesus.
36:42 So now we are gonna anoint you with oil part of this grand spiritual tradition of our faith.
36:53 And with this oil, we do commission you Steve and Suzanne into a new season of fruitfulness, of faithfulness. As you have served faithfully in this season, in this house, we, we send you into a new season, into an expanded role to serve faithfully even more that the Holy Spirit would go before you, that he would saturate you with his peace in every difficult situation that, you will be handed and that will fall to you. Steve, I just commend you to walk in faith and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit with great grace on your life. Grace that has come not from some, just theoretical study of it, but grace that has been forged in suffering, grace that has been forged, on the ground, face to face. That kind of deep well of empathy and, and spiritual authority would be evident in every conversation and every situation that you face, Suzanne, that these days would, would be some of the best days of your life. Speaker 7
38:00 Yes, Jesus,
38:02 Beyond expectation for both of you that these days would be filled with joy these days would be filled with incredible, an incredible sense that God is with you and He's in you and he's on you. And every place that you put your feet, God has not only given it to you, but he is, he has reserved it for his purposes. And so now we commission and call you and say, go now into the purposes of God in the days ahead. Jesus. Jesus, we worship you. We are grateful. As they have led, may we lead as they have been faithful. May we be faithful. Thank you Jesus. As we walk in humility, may we, may they also thank go in, in this place. Yes. For the glory of your name. We pray this in Jesus name. In Jesus' name. If you agree with you say amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you guys. Thanks you round of applause for them. Thanks for that prayer. Speaker 9