I am the Executive Pastor at Church at the Springs (Ocala, FL) I am married to Sandy and we have 2 married children (our son Hal 4 is married to Chrissy and our daughter Ashley is married to Sam Updike). I also have 4 grandchildren- granddaughter – Ella Kay Updike, Hal Mayer 5 (cinco-de-mayer), Sam Updike Jr and our newest Joshua Updike. As far as formal education – I earned a Bachelors degree in Education, a Masters degree in Religious Education and a Doctorate degree in Leadership. With these degrees in hand – I can get a cup of coffee at McDonald’s for $1.50!
I believe there are two passions that best define me: evangelism and leadership.
Evangelism– I first trusted Christ when I was 16 and attending a small Bible study in a friend’s home (the Ellis’). I was immediately encouraged and challenged to share my new faith. We had a group, nicknamed Charlie’s Raiders, from that study that would go to Underground Atlanta and share our faith every Saturday night. It was in that environment that God began to grow my passion for evangelism. During my college years, I was a summer missionary on St Pete Beach, FL. We would spend 8 hours a day sharing our faith on the beach! That was a great learning time for me.
At Church at the Springs, we try to make these phrases live: “We want to create a safe place to hear a dangerous message” and “We want to make Ocala a hard place to get to Hell from”. This verse has marked my life-
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Mark 1:17
Leadership- I have always been inspired by people who are effective leaders, especially in the church. It seems to me that churches often lose their health and effectiveness, not because they stop preaching the Gospel, but because they develop systems that hamstring their ability to reach and grow people. Too often, all of the leadership is vested in the paid staff. I firmly believe that God’s call for me (and all of our pastors) is to equip the people of Church at the Springs to DO the ministry. A verse that underscores this principle is:
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
I am so blessed because I get to do a job that I love. Hanging out with men and women who are passionately pursuing God and His purpose has enlarged my desire for the Father and the local church.