11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
(Eph. 4:11-13 – NASB95)
Pastors are a gift to the local church so it can be built up, attain maturity, and bear much fruit for the glory of God. The Bridge has been blessed historically with wonderful pastors who have given their lives to shepherd the flock of God. In recent years, some of those men have gone on to serve in other churches or plant new churches (i.e., Patrick Carmichael, Brandon Ragsdale, Bruce Groves, Thomas Herringshaw, and Mika Kaltoft). We praised God for them and continued to pray for and support their ministries. We also prayed that the Lord would raise up new leaders to take over their former areas of responsibility. The Lord has answered those prayers super abundantly as the elders approved Tom Harcus as the newest pastor on our church staff, beginning June 1st. Hopefully you heard him preach on March 27th or met them when they were here over Easter weekend. We are thrilled to have Tom and his wife Dawn join us and fill in some critical areas of ministry.
They will be moving from Aurora, Illinois (near Chicago) to West Hills at the end of May. Tom’s areas of responsibility will include College and Young Adults (with an emphasis on college & university campus ministry), Local Evangelism & Outreach, Leadership Development, and Church Planting (locally and globally). These are all areas where Tom & Dawn have extensive experience. Let me tell you a little more about them.
Tom graduated from Purdue University in 1983 then moved to L.A. where he attended Talbot and Master’s seminaries. We met and served together at Grace Community Church where we served in the college ministry and started all of their campus outreaches (CSUN, UCLA, USC, Pierce, Valley…). We became very close friends at that time (Tom was in my wedding and I was in Tom’s wedding). Tom and Dawn married in 1986, then moved to the Chicago area in 1987 where they initiated and developed a number of ministries (small groups, evangelism, follow-up, baptisms, School of Ministry, church planting, College Ministry, summer projects in the U.S. and abroad, and shared in preaching). In 1992 they moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where they planted a church that became the hub of a church planting movement. They developed small groups, Men’s and Women’s and Children’s ministries, a ministry to business owners, a Pastors’ Leadership Institute, and developed a church planting culture that led to 3 church plants in the area. At that time, he completed a Doctor of Ministry, served on a church planting board, helped pioneer a church network in the Czech Republic, and ultimately raised up a leader to take his place at the church in Ft. Collins. In 2005 they moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where they planted a new multi-racial church among the poor. In that church they developed a Hispanic Ministry, LIFE Groups, a Pastors’ Leadership Institute, and a campus ministry at UNCW. Tom also led local community outreaches, hosted a talk-show format radio program on a secular station, pioneered the use of outreach TV commercials on local networks, formalized a church planting network (CrosswayNetwork.org) that continues to grow in the U.S., the Czech Republic, Albania, and Mexico. Tom raised up a leader to take over the ministry in Wilmington and in 2016 they moved to Aurora, Illinois where he led one of the churches in the network through a transition to a new leader. While there he developed their LIFE Groups, started a campus ministry at Aurora University, initiated Summer Projects, further developed the ministry in Mexico where a church has now been planted, and started the Eastern Region of Crossway Chapel Network.
Tom and Dawn want to give the next 15-20 years of their lives to serving on a church team with a focus on reaching and training collegians and young adults, leading local evangelism and outreach ministries, training leaders for the church and future church plants, developing a network of churches that will work together to plant churches worldwide, and getting training materials printed so they can be used by believers all over the world. They believe The Bridge Bible Fellowship is the place for them to do that and so do we!
They have an adult son (Josh, married to Sarah and living in Miami Beach, FL), and an adopted daughter Erika (18 years old and graduating from high school). Erika will spend the next year in Ft. Collins, CO, actively serving in a dynamic college ministry, then hopefully move to L.A. in one year to join her parents and help them in ministry to collegians.
Please join with me in praising God for this amazing answer to our prayers. And pray for Tom and Dawn as they say goodbye to their church family in Aurora, load up a moving truck on May 25th, and drive to L.A. And pray about your involvement in one of the ministries they will be taking over or pioneering in the coming days. You will love them and will love serving the Lord with them. Be warned, their joyful, sacrificial, evangelistic, disciple-making, church planting lifestyle is contagious!