Today I direct your attention to a megachurch pastor who has built a legacy of doing things the right way.
Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Community Church in Orlando, Florida, is stepping down from his pastoral role in order to focus on ministry outside the walls of the church. Here is part of his announcement:
I believe God will continue using Northland in wonderful ways, but He is calling me to focus my life on a new season of ministry outside the four walls of the church.
When I knelt at the altar to give my whole life to Jesus, I was a part of the Civil Rights movement. My focus on Jesus was not only for personal salvation after this life but also for compassion towards the marginalized in this life. My call to follow Jesus and serve the vulnerable is stronger than ever.
Jesus often taught in different synagogues but the bulk of his teaching and work was outside established religious settings. Following his way, I will seek to include the unincluded in the Kingdom.
Under Hunter’s leadership, Northland grew from a church of around 200 in 1985 to a multisite congregation of 20,000 presently. Northland was among the pioneers of the multisite model in which different church campuses are connected via digital streaming.
As a spiritual advisor to president Obama, Hunter modeled the way in which we evangelicals ought to be using our influence to shape the political discourse in our nation. He and his church were actively involved in the push for racial reconciliation following the Trayvon Martin shooting of 2012 and in the response to the Pulse Nightclub tragedy of 2016.
From a 2008 interview with Christianity Today: “There is great potential for the church to be part of the solution to the problems in our culture and the problems in our world, …if we can build coalitions that help enhance the common good that also enhances the Christian social agenda.”
This article in Christianity Today notes all the ways that Hunter has been involved in both church and public ministry over the years.
A sampling of Hunter’s writings from around the web: In “Can I Have My Bible Back?” Hunter contrasts a proper understanding of the story of Scripture with the positivist view so prevalent in present-day evangelicalism which sees the Bible as a storehouse of authoritative, propositional truth. In this short BioLogos video, Hunter gives his take on how to address difficult subjects in church.