The Power of Consistency: Interview with Ken Hester

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As a part of the REFlections Interview Series, I’m honored to present an interview that speaks to the successes and challenges of ministry and our life of faith in Christ. As one of the emerging voices in our generation, Ken Hester has proven through word and deed that his faith in God is real! Ken is the campus pastor at Elevation Church, overseeing the Gaston campus in Gastonia, North Carolina. I became acquainted with Ken about 6 years ago when he was the College Pastor at Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh, North Carolina. Presently, as an Elevation Church campus pastor, Ken shared some of the lessons he’s learned along the way.

It’s my prayer that this interview blesses you like it blessed me. Thank you Ken for sharing!

KEY – RF: Ryan Faison | KH: Ken Hester

 

RF: If I had to describe Ken Hester, how would you want me to describe you?

KH: A passionate leader. I’m not afraid of change (and I could be accused of embracing too much of it)! I like fun stuff and I’m certainly a thrill seeker. I’m a husband. This year on June 2nd, my wife and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage. I’m a coach. I’ve enjoyed my experiences as a basketball coach over the years and even thought it would be my career. I’m a pastor. As a thrill-seeker, it is awesome that every weekend, GOD WINS! Jesus is #1 on the scoreboard! There’s salvations and baptisms every week. This is my greatest joy.

 

RF: In this season of your life, what is the most rewarding?

KH: Rewarding for me is that my staff, leaders and volunteers feel cared for. I find my reward in the great consistency rather than the great moments. We often times celebrate the moment rather than the consistency. Christ celebrates the consistency. In the NBA Playoffs, Derrick Rose hit a major shot but lost the playoffs. It may be SportsCenter moment, but we may dismiss the team’s consistent effort. The same thing applies to our spiritual life. When I see a congregation consistent in giving, serving and loving, this is my greatest reward.

 

“Christ celebrates the consistency!”

– Pastor Ken Hester

 

RF: Consistency is important to you. How do you value this in your life?

KH: I value it but working on the discipline of consistency. I tried to find a formula for devotion before God. What I realized that for me its one Scripture (maybe two), praying specifically that God reveals Himself in that Scripture, worship in my car (blasting worship in my car for 20-30 minutes), praying on my way home. I realized over the years that it’s not about a formula, but a relationship. I desire to be consistent in that area of my life.

 

RF: What would you say to someone who is focused on “formulas”?

KH: It’s about how God is stretching your faith, not a set formula. Too often, our culture is focused on calculated risk. Faith is “I’m jumping out an airplane and I don’t have a parachute but I know God will catch me!” I’m encouraged by a couple of folks in our apprenticeship program. One apprentice moved from South Africa to serve in Gastonia, North Carolina to be a part of what God is doing. That faith inspires my faith. Another couple just recently got married and moved from Sacramento, California to serve here at Elevation. This is the faith that is demonstrated in the Bible. I need to be challenged in faith. I encourage others to look for everyday faith. If God did it before, He can do it again! 

 

RF: What’s the most challenging area of your life?

KH: One of the most challenging areas on my life (and my wife) is regarding family. We are beginning to share more and more about it with others. We’re been trying to start a family for five years. To say its been a struggle is an understatement. You get a monthly reminder that God has not chosen you to have a family yet. What have you tried for five years and still not seeing fruit from? Not many things. If you go to school for years, you received a degree. We’ve been trying to have a family for five years and haven’t seen that reward yet. It challenges our faith. We’re mad and hopeful. An array of emotions. What’s challenging for us is to remember that God’s promises never return void. When all you see is void — it can be a direct challenge to your faith. We’re reminded of Abraham. I hope I don’t have to wait 35+ years (lol), but we trust in God’s promise to have a family. We can’t see it now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

 

“When all you see is void — it can be a direct challenge to your faith.”

– Pastor Ken Hester

 

RF: How do you minister to your wife during this challenging season?

KH: Supporting my wife in the small things makes the difference. It’s not only about extravagant gifts. It’s praying for my wife when she’s not aware I’m doing so. Doing little things around the house that relieve pressure. When we are battling, we are in this together. My wife’s not battling infertility – we are battling infertility. It’s a team effort. We are in this together.

 

RF: In the midst of your own challenge and the challenges your church faces everyday, how do you encourage them not to get discouraged when promises come to pass in someone else’s life but you’re still waiting?

KH: I’m always reminded of Pastor Steven’s (Furtick) words: “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel!” The highlight reel is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, etc. But, what are others struggling with that they don’t want you to see? They may have a child, or a spouse, or blessed with a job that you think that you want, but they also have behind-the-scenes. They just haven’t told you about it. If you were to go through my social media platform, you would not know the struggles. Even on a campus level — people see the moments, but not the struggles. It’s death by comparison. Don’t be discouraged by a post that doesn’t tell the whole story. If someone receives a blessing, celebrate it! It’s their blessing, not yours. The comparison game is a slippery slope. Focus on what gives you joy and write them out. You’ll be surprised — you have more joys than struggles. We tend to focus more on the struggles than the joys.

 

“Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.”

– Pastor Steven Furtick (quoted by Pastor Ken Hester)

 

RF: What brings you joy being a part of Elevation Church family?

KH: I want to thank Pastor Steven for the opportunity to serve. I appreciate the passion and consistency in pursuing the vision of people far away from God being raised to life in Christ! Pastor Steven has shared with all the campus pastors that this is not his vision, but our vision. As the Gaston campus, it is Elevation but its own feel and identity. It is a joy to see the growth and the love of God shared throughout all the campuses.

 

RF: Where do you see your campus going in a year?

KH: We’re believing God for 3,000 people. Right now, we are averaging 1,100. If God did it once, He can do it again. If I see in Acts 2:41, it can happen now. It is not out of the realm of God’s perspective. It will take work, prep, innovation, creativity, people and prayer. I want our campus to align with God’s will in every way.

 

“If God can do it before, He can do it again!”

– Pastor Ken Hester

 

RF: Last question Ken. If you could talk to younger Ken, what would you say?

KH: I would probably say — don’t make too many plans for yourself because God will change them. I went to school to be a basketball coach. I was one. I won 5 championships. I was successful (or what I thought was successful). As I look back, I learned so much in coaching that informs how I pastor and serve people. I think I would be a bit more generic and leave room for God to change my plans. Let God change your plans! I was stubborn especially since I was up for an Athletic Coordinator job. But, they went in another direction. Three days later, I received a notification from the Senior Pastor of my church inviting me to be the College Pastor. The rest is history. Let God change your plans. It’s my prayer that sharing the struggles helps others see that God has a plan for your life and He will accomplish it through you.

 

ABOUT KEN

Ken Hester is the campus pastor at Elevation Church Gaston. An innovative and proven leader, Pastor Ken leads along with a team of devoted Christ-followers at Elevation Gaston to see people far away from God being raised to life in Christ. Ken studied Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He is married to the love of his life, Ashley Hester.

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The Remix Retreat: August 8-10, 2014 [Register Today]

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On August 8-10 at the Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center, young adults from across the state and region are gathering for The Remix Young Adults Retreat! Over the course of several years, it’s been my heart to host a summer retreat, but it appeared that other events and vacation schedules impeded the planning of such an event. One day, my good friend and brother Segun Aiyegbusi (Pastor, Grace Church on the Mount – Netcong, NJ) shared how he desired to have a summer retreat. In our conversation, the idea of having other young adult ministries partner with us emerged.

As a result, we now have 8 young adult ministries in the Tri-State Area joining us for this life-changing weekend! If you are a young adult or college student, I want to personally invite you to come for a time of great fun, relaxation and impartation from God. I’m honored to join Colleen Batchelder and Segun Aiyegbusi as guest speakers. It’s our prayer that this weekend will radically change your life and strengthen your faith in God.

To register and for more information, check out http://www.RemixRetreat.com! We can’t wait to see you there!

Out of the Loop

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OutoftheLoopLet’s get right down to it: Far too many people feel like they are “out of the loop”. What does that term even mean?

Well, it depends on who you ask. Some feel like they are not included in social outings, conversations or given the opportunity to build relationships with certain people. Others feel like they are rarely considered when decisions are made, leaving them with the sense of worthlessness. Then you have those who have recently discovered that they thought they were “in the loop” to only find out they have been duped.

What is the loop? It’s the people, group, or associations you deem valuable to be a part of. Otherwise, it would not demand your attention, your hurt feelings or your criticism. Depending on the context, “the loop” also has informal membership that rarely gets publicized. Either you are a part of it or you are not. Induction is not official and the way you enter is not public knowledge. We have experienced this on many levels: in the workplace, in friendships/relationships, and even in our families. This extends from Wall Street to Main Street, from your house and yes, even the House of God.

Here’s a question I want to raise and invite you to think about: Why do you want to be “in the loop”? Whatever circle or association you view as important or worthy, what’s the real reason why you want to even be in it? Is it for the closeness? Possibly to access more information or connections? Is it for your own self-esteem? Is it to boast to others that you are in that loop? Checking out your motives reveals your heart and why you are investing so much time in getting in rather than getting to know you.

I’ve seen this time and time again, especially in regards to social media. Nowadays, we can communicate subtly like covert operations to reveal or unveil our connections. The photos, the statuses and Instagram videos display who we are close to and where we go. It is a parade of who’s who in various circles to promote one’s worth. Nothing is wrong with posting anything that is appropriate with friends and family. But, the question is still out there — it demands an answer — why are you doing it? 

Being “out of the loop” (whatever that loop may be) may be very distressing to you. It may cause you to question who you are. You may wonder: “Why can’t I be a part of that”? or “How did that person make it and I didn’t?” I get it. Allow me to take this opportunity to offer a word of caution: Your energy in trying to be a part of a loop distracts you from being a circle starter! Too many people in loops take an unfortunate pride in limiting who can be a part of “them”. If that’s the case, why would you want to fraternize with anyone who has that attitude? A circle starter finds ways of connecting people through their circle of friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances. This circle never ends and allows for people who never had the chance to connect to do so.

Discover ways that you can be a circle starter. What ways can you connect people together that are mutually beneficial? Let those who need to be in loops for their own self-aggrandizement to themselves. That’s what they are about — themselves. When you are a circle starters, you organically create opportunities for healthy relationships to be formed in the spirit of growth, learning and exposure to new things. If you want to be in the know, let others discover what they may not know about you. Let them discover the depth of who you are. If there is someone or people you want to know, don’t make futile attempts for them to know you in a manipulative, contrived manner. Be you — start healthy relationships where you are — they will find you out! And you’ll never feel “out of the loop”! – REF