We are launching a new series this month that highlights participants at the national gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 4 – 5th, 2013. Presenters, preachers, teachers, and leaders were asked the same five questions and their thoughtful responses may be found here every week. The goal is to introduce you to people you’ll hear from in Charlotte and prime the pump for our time together. Hopefully, something here will spark an idea, thought, or question for you. We encourage you to reach out and initiate conversations that you can later continue in person. So without further ado …
Steven Phillip Eason
Dr. Eason has been the Pastor/Head of Staff of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church since August 2002. Prior to serving in this position he served the following churches; Moyock United Methodist, Moyock, North Carolina (‘79-81); First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, Virginia (‘81-88); First Presbyterian Church, Morganton, North Carolina (’88-97); and Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (’97-01).
Steve is the author of Making Disciples, Making Leaders (Geneva Press) and has also written for other publications. He served as a trustee of Union Presbyterian Seminary from 2003-2011.
After 32 years of ordained ministry, Steve’s major focus in ministry is discipleship. He comments, “If the word disciple means student, then we are called to be students of Christ. If we are students of Christ then where is our classroom and what are we learning from him?”
1. Tell us about your ministry context.
I’m in my 11th year as serving as senior pastor of Myers Park Presbyterian Church. We are a 4,500 member congregation that has been here for since 1926. The congregation is diverse and yet very similar. Our congregation has had a deep commitment to local and global outreach. In the last $30 million capital campaign, they committed $11 million to outreach. Not only do they provide funds but it is also relational ministry.
2. Where have you seen glimpses of “the church that is becoming”?
I don’t know that I have seen it. I know that’s an odd response but I’m not sure any of us us have seen it. We have made stylistic changes in worship but I’m not sure that’s it. We’ve tried satellite churches, but I don’t know that that’s it. We seem to be in a time of experimentation, as if we’re waiting for something to happen that is outside and beyond all of us. That would be in keeping with the biblical record. Part of what I see is a pruning of the Church. Pruning can be painful and it often looks like death. We may have to wait awhile before we see the sprouts!
3. What are your passions in ministry? (And/or what keeps you up at night?)
Nothing keeps really keeps me up at night! I fully trust in the sovereignty of God. I don’t mean to be glib with that response, but anxiety is diminished when you consider who you’re dealing with here. The Church belongs to God. We all belong to God. As hard as we’ve tried to kill the Church, we just can’t seem to do it!
My passion lies with wanting people to “get it.” Jesus Christ changes people’s lives. Following him means you have to move. I get excited about the transitions, the possibilities, the biblical stories that are being written today. They are far and few between. It’s easy to run out of gas before you get to the next one. But this passion keeps me coming to work.
4. What is one thing you are looking forward to at the NEXT Gathering?
I went to the Dallas conference and I really enjoyed the fellowship. I also enjoyed being a part of a group that wasn’t discussing homosexuality. It’s an important topic but it has dominated our time together. I particularly appreciated hearing younger pastors who are trying new things and being honest about what’s working and what’s not. That gives me some hope.
5. Describe NEXT in seven words or less.
Something God is going to do.