VAN NUYS — It's transition time at the house of worship that Jack built, the large Church on the Way.
Pastor Jack Hayford, 64, is spending less time preaching and administering the nearly 10,000-member congregation that he built from a small, struggling church almost 30 years ago.
Hayford is devoting more time to mentoring younger pastors making pilgrimages to the multifaceted church complex.
Although 1,700 clergy attended the church's annual pastors' conference last year and about 150 were at a three-day leadership colloquium this week, Hayford is launching a seminary this fall and a series of intense, weeklong seminars with mid-career pastors from around the country.
There is a link between The King's Seminary, which expects to start with about 70 aspiring pastors, and the eight or so consultations a year with groups of 35 to 45 pastors.
"Part of our strategy is to build relationships with pastors who will recommend the seminary to students," Hayford said.
But the overall shift of Hayford's activities is designed also to provide a smooth transition in leadership to co-Pastor Scott Bauer, his son-in-law.
For the last year and a half, Bauer has directed the daily operation of the congregation. Hayford gives the sermon at two-thirds of the Sunday morning services but appears at only 20% of the well-attended Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services that average 1,000 and 1,300 people respectively.
The transition in church leadership "has been done so gently, with such grace and ease, that it seems so natural," said church elder Myrene Morris of Northridge, who has been a member with her husband for 27 years.
"I don't think people are comparing Pastor Scott with Pastor Jack," she said. The younger minister "has his own strengths and gifts--a very practical wisdom," she said.
One characteristic of Hayford's approach, long ago incorporated into church policies, has been to offer members and visitors a Pentecostal church--affiliated with the Foursquare denomination--with a sense of decorum.
Church on the Way weekly bulletins periodically discourage emotional displays or disruptive speaking in tongues during worship services--common at other Pentecostal churches--while encouraging such spiritual expressions if they do not "degenerate into mere excitability."
Addressing pastors at this week's colloquium, Hayford sought to assure non-Pentecostal pastors that they should not feel manipulated if charismatic and Pentecostal worshipers raise their arms upward as they sing or pray. As he indicated, arms lifted in prayer--once a sure sign of a Pentecostal believer--has been adopted by others as a natural gesture.
A leading exponent of, as he put it, "a more conversational style" of preaching instead of traditional pulpit oratory, Hayford also is known for sermons filled with asides to define what he means and doesn't mean.
To pastors attending the colloquium, for example, he endorsed seeking "mysteries" and "visions" as described in the New Testament but not pursuing esoteric and arcane matters or becoming "out of touch with the practical."
Hayford's care with words and striking the right balance in Christian experiences hold great appeal for church colleagues, said the Rev. Lloyd Ogilvie, a former Hollywood Presbyterian Church pastor who co-founded the ongoing Pastors Love L.A. prayer meetings with Hayford several years ago.
"I think pastors sense in him what they are longing to be," said Ogilvie, now chaplain to the U.S. Senate.
"He is rooted in historic Christianity, has the fire and dynamism of a charismatic, understands the relevance of social responsibility and can mobilize individuals," said Ogilvie, who spoke at the church's colloquium. "You don't usually find those qualities combined in one person."
After one year, a total of 250 pastors have paid $750 each plus transportation costs to spend a week with Hayford in seven separate consultations run by the church's Jack W. Hayford School of Pastoral Nurture.
These mentoring sessions are not how-to seminars, but "a transmission of a way to think and live," he said. A barbecue at the pastor's home in Granada Hills is part of the package.
About 20% of the pastors have come from non-Pentecostal churches, he said. School officials select a mix of big-church and small-church pastors and those from ethnic minorities. A session for Korean American pastors will be held Nov. 9-15.
Most pastors are male. "But we've had three lady pastors who applied and were accepted," he said.