Successfully Transitioning in Ministry by Bob Hoover

Successfully Transitioning in Ministry
Bob Hoover

Bob Hoover graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in 1983 and pastored Living Word Church in Roberts, Illinois from 1983 through 2002. At that time, Bob and his wife Darlene moved to Decatur, IL, and served as Care Pastor at GT Church from 2002 until May of 2013. Bob and Darlene have been married since 1957 and are the parents of two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Bob Hoover

Transitioning in MinistryIn 1983, I graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center and began pastoring in a church in my home town. I served there for approximately twenty years. In a town of 400 people, we had many challenges but saw incredible growth and had a wonderful time.

It took some time to see the congregation grab hold of the vision that God had given me. The church started before my wife and I had come there, and after we arrived it began to grow because of many committed people. Our Sunday morning services grew between 400-500 people, driving from an hour radius.

I didn’t get into ministry until I was in my forties, having been in business for 25 years. I believe pastoring is also a business, God’s business. When I was about 65 years old, I felt that the Lord was leading me to move closer to our children and grandchildren.

A catalyst in my decision-making was when my grandson called me and asked me if he could have just 30 minutes of my time. I realized that I had been so busy in ministry that my own grandson was requesting to have time with me. I didn’t want to let that season of life pass me by without having a strong and closer relationship with my grandchildren.

In 2002, we moved to a larger city where our daughter and son-in-law pastored. My son-in-law asked if I would be a pastor on his staff because a pastor was moving away. I took the job being fully aware that things would be different from being the lead pastor to just one of nine pastors on staff.

My job was well-defined. I was to be the Care Pastor. I wold make hospital calls, visit shut-ins, be the main Spiritual Guidance Counselor, and teach the congregation of adults on Wednesday nights.

It worked well for me, except I felt that the pastoral staff had a hard time receiving any suggestions that I may have had. I think that they felt things were done differently in a larger city. At staff meetings, I hardly said a word. I knew this would be a humbling experience. I think it was probably really good for me, even though I felt that I had the experience to give sound advice.

I got along very well with the congregation and they showed so much love for us. When some people passed away, some of the staff were amazed that I was asked to do their funerals.

The thing that they did not understand was that I was the one who was with those people during their last days. My job was enjoyable and the congregation was great, but the staff was not accepting of me. After I retired, several people from the congregation said that the pastoral staff saw me as a threat. This really surprised me.

In March of 2013, my wife had two heart attacks. So on May 2, when I turned 75 years old, I stepped down from the staff. I still have been doing some funerals when I am asked. I was raised in a family of eight children and was taught that if you are not working that you are lazy. The retirement life has been a big adjustment, and at times, I feel guilty for not working. It has brought my wife and I closer than ever.

I am not sure if I have been successful in making these changes. I was so pleased with the first church I pastored, but there is no turning back and the Lord is helping us each and every day by His precious Holy Spirit.

P.S. I mentioned wanting to spend time with my grandchildren was a catalyst in my decision to leave my role as senior pastor. When I became Care Pastor at the church in Decatur, I would often take my grandchildren with me on visits. My grandson is now in ministry. When we were visiting at hospitals and had to wait to see a patient, my granddaughter would often pick up medical magazines and read them. She is now in training to be a Physician’s Assistant. Our other granddaughter is on staff at the church in Decature.