Posts tagged Rocky Seto
Trading Plays for Praise on Sundays
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This is a piece I wrote for our church newsletter about the Los Angeles Times article that I wrote about in last week’s blog.

On Monday, September 11, 2017, I received a text message (yes, I do know how to text and even have a smart phone) from one of our church members. He informed me that the anticipated article about Rocky Seto becoming the next Senior Pastor of Evergreen SGV was on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

I eagerly went to our neighborhood 7-Eleven convenience store and bought three issues of the morning paper for $9.75 (I remember a time when newspapers were a dime). I then drove to our staff meeting and eventually read the fairly long article.

I thought it was an excellent article about what transpired over the past three years regarding God’s providential hand moving Rocky from the Seattle Seahawks to Evergreen SGV. I was very blessed to read it.

The genesis of the article started months ago, right after Rocky made the decision to accept the call of God to become our next Senior Pastor. Rocky approached me about a reporter, named David Wharton, wanting to do a story about what was transpiring at our church.

One of my first questions to Rocky was, “Is he trustworthy?” Rocky said that he knew David from his days at the University of Southern California and that he was indeed a trustworthy man. Normally, I refrain from interviews because it is so easy to be misquoted or misrepresented. However, because Rocky trusted David, I decided to consent to the interview.

I first met David when he and his photographer came to our joint worship service on March 12th. He worshiped with us, hearing the story of how Rocky came to be our next Senior Pastor and got a feel for who we are as a church family.

He asked if he could attend a staff meeting and see what happens on a normal day at the office. My first impression of David was that he was a very nice man, humble in spirit so I consented. He said, he would like to interview me when he visited.

After sitting in our staff meeting, he and I got together in my office. One of the first things, I said to David was that I normally record interviews, but because Rocky trusted him so did I and I would refrain from using my phone to record the interview. He said not to worry; he was recording it for the sake of accuracy.

He asked questions and I answered them. It was a very pleasant interview. I enjoyed his company. However, I wasn’t sure how the article would eventually read.

Fast forward to Monday, September 11, I thought that the article represented what transpired really well. There was only one thing that probably could have been clarified, but overall, David captured the essence of what actually transpired. Rocky’s call was a God thing and not a human thing.

I wanted to give kudos to David for being a warm, friendly and a very professional reporter.

Please read the article. It is now an historical piece in the life and times of Evergreen SGV.

By the way, David Wharton has written two book about the University of Southern California’s football program, entitled, “Conquest: Pete Carroll and the Trojans' Climb to the Top of the College Football Mountain” and “USC Football: Yesterday & Today”

This article and other happenings causes me to believe that God has a will and a way for what is going on at our church regarding the transition from me to Pastor Rocky and we can trust Him for it.

Something to think about…

The Succession Story (Epilogue) – The Transition Theme
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Allow me to begin where I left off in my last blog about the Succession Story. God has been enormously good to our church family.

As I shared in the first blog regarding a succession plan, there are three distinct advantages to succession. First, there is the comfort of a settled succession. Secondly, there is the reassurance of a God-initiated succession. And, finally, there are tangible benefits of an overlapping transition.

We are currently developing the basics for a transition plan. There will be different components to the plan. Some of the components will be family settlement, congregational preparation, relationship building, skill development, theological acquisition, vision assessment and expansion.

As for me, God has given me guidance very early in the process of succession. The Lord directed me to the transition between John the Baptist and Jesus. John the Baptist said in John 3:30 when asked about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease.” That is to be the theme of the transition for me. In the process of transition, God’s chosen Senior Pastor must increase and I must decrease.

What does that look like? Stay tuned and we will learn together.

Two final notes…

The question that is asked of me the most is about the date of my retirement, when the transition ends and a new beginning commences. My soft retirement date is May 1, 2020. I believe we will know much more clearly as the date draws near.

The second most asked question is what I am going to do after I retire. I know that I will need to leave my beloved church family for a season while Rocky gets established as God’s chosen senior leader. My heart’s desire is to continue serving the Lord in some way as He leads. I don’t plan to play golf every day.

One of the exciting things about all that is going on is the fact that the Lord knows what needs to happen and if we plan faithfully and trust in Him, His plans will be established and we will all rejoice at the outcome.

Like everything else, it is going to be a faith journey in which everyone will have a role.

Something to think about…

The Succession Story (Part Five) – Come Thou Long Awaited Answer

“Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations…” Psalm 119:90a

As per our arrangement, the man who came to dinner contacted me on December 31, 2016. After a time of sharing, it was determined that it would be wise for him to have an extension until the first week of January.

On Friday, January 6, 2017, the man who came to dinner called me with his answer. He and his wife believed that the Lord was calling him to become the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV.

The answer had come and the answer was yes.

After years of waiting, listening, and then acting, the man who is to become the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV confirmed his calling to become our next senior pastor. The identity of the man who came to dinner is Rocky Seto along with his wife Sharla and their children, Kaylani (11), Mia (9), Troy (7) and Timothy (5).

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

The next step was to get the affirmation of the saints through a vote of our church membership. It was decided to wait a few months before calling a meeting to vote on Rocky’s candidacy. The time table was pre-empted by a story printed in the Seattle Times.

As a result of the story and all of the questions that followed, the church membership was called together on Sunday, February, 19, 2017 to present Rocky Seto as the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV. All of the votes were cast and counted by February 26, 2017. The decision to call a senior pastor required a three quarter majority of the votes cast.

At 1:00 PM on Sunday, February 26, the votes were counted. The results were 296 yes, 4 no and 3 abstentions, which equaled an affirmative majority vote of 98.6%. I cannot remember a vote over a major decision being so decisive.

And so, the waiting was over, God’s faithfulness was revealed and we were able to rejoice and give glory to God.

God has always been so good to our church family and now He is blessing our next generation with His goodness through the calling of their senior pastor. Indeed, His faithfulness continues throughout all generations.

If you would like to read more about Rocky, there has been a follow up article in the Seattle Times that is worth reading.

We now begin the transition.

It gives us more to think and pray about…

The Succession Story (Part Four) – God’s Perfect Timing

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”. Ecclesiastes 3:1

My successor had been identified. A window of opportunity opened up when the man who came to dinner shared with me that he was between contracts.

Was it time to approach the man who came to dinner?

I believe that it was providential that the Lord had me preach a message on Moses making excuses for not responding to God’s call on his life. I believe the message was as much for me as for anyone else.

I decided that it was time to act.

On Monday, August 8, 2016, I made a preliminary contact with the man who came to dinner to inquire about his employment situation and to set up a phone appointment for later in the week.

Then on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at 10 pm, I asked the man who came to dinner to pray about becoming the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV after a period of transition and my subsequent retirement.

The man who came to dinner was overwhelmed but open to God’s potential call. He needed time to inform his wife and, together, pray for God’s will to be done in their lives.

My wife and I spent time with the couple during the week of August 15, 2016. We answered all the questions laid before us as best we could. It was a blessed time of sharing about a life of full-time ministry.

After much discussion and prayer, a third season of waiting began.

I informed the man who came to dinner that he could have a substantial amount of time to make his decision. We agreed to wait until the end of 2016 for an answer. We were about to enter into a four and half month period of engaging in the activity of waiting; knowing full well that “There is an appointed time for everything.”

One of things I have learned over the years is that God’s timing isn’t our timing and His plans are not our plans. His timing is perfect and His plans are seamless.

His timing always gives us lot to think and pray about…

The Succession Story (Part Three) – A Second Season of Waiting

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

My successor had been identified. The Lord is faithful and good. As shared in the two blogs, I had a condition that I would not call my successor out of his employment situation and the man who came to dinner was employed.

So a second season of waiting began.

During this season of waiting, something interesting began to happen. Whenever this man who came to dinner and I met, he wanted to talk about preaching, ministry and what it was like to be a pastor. He began teaching and preaching God’s Word as a layman more and more at different venues. He began to take seminary classes to learn theology.

The Spirit of God was doing His work of preparation. As for me, I did nothing, but pray and wait.

Then in August of 2016, the man who came to dinner requested a meeting. As he shared, I discovered that he was between contracts and that his next contract had yet to be tendered. His employment had yet to be renewed by his employer and he was technically unemployed for 2017.

Complicating matters he also had multiple offers and opportunities within his chosen career path outside of his current employment. I asked him not to make any commitments without calling me first for counsel and prayer (which was not an unusual request). He agreed.

I then sought the Lord over what I should do. I had an agonizing moment over whether or not I should inform the man who came to dinner that I believed he was to be the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV.

An agonizing moment happened on Sunday, July 26, 2016 from 9:30 AM through my time of preaching during second service. The message entitled, “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses” was about Moses giving God a host of excuses as to why he could not fulfill God’s call on his life.

I believed that the time had come to ask the man who came to dinner to consider becoming the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV, but I was afraid of not being in God’s perfect timing regarding the matter. I did not want to make an error in timing.

I spoke to our Church Moderator for counsel during the 9:30 AM hour and he gave me his blessing with the caveat that it was up to me. I had a difficult time preaching a message about Moses giving God excuses for not obeying God’s call.

It set the stage for what was about to happen.