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Dan Herron Shares the Story of His Most Satisfying Professional Moment

Dan Herron

 

 

Dan‌ ‌Herron‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌former‌ ‌pastor‌ ‌of‌ ‌Hope‌ ‌Presbyterian‌ ‌Church,‌ ‌a‌ ‌gospel-centered‌ ‌church‌ ‌

community‌ ‌for‌ ‌Bloomington,‌ ‌Indiana,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Indiana‌ ‌University.‌ ‌ ‌

Dan‌ ‌Herron‌ ‌was‌ ‌turned‌ ‌to‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌in‌ ‌1997‌ ‌while‌ ‌an‌ ‌undergrad‌ ‌at‌ ‌Illinois‌ ‌State‌ ‌University.‌ ‌In‌ ‌2000, he‌ ‌graduated‌ ‌and‌ ‌married‌ ‌his‌ ‌wife,‌ ‌Erica,‌ ‌who‌ ‌he‌ ‌had‌ ‌been‌ ‌dating‌ ‌since‌ ‌high‌ ‌school.‌ ‌They‌ ‌

moved‌ ‌to‌ ‌St.‌ ‌Louis‌ ‌where‌ ‌Dan‌ ‌taught‌ ‌high‌ ‌school‌ ‌history‌ ‌to‌ ‌at-risk‌ ‌youth,‌ ‌while‌ ‌Erica‌ ‌completed‌ ‌

her‌ ‌Master’s‌ ‌degree‌ ‌in‌ ‌Physical‌ ‌Therapy.‌ ‌ ‌

After‌ ‌a‌ ‌move‌ ‌in‌ ‌2011,‌ ‌Dan‌ ‌Herron‌ ‌helped‌ ‌to‌ ‌start‌ ‌Hope‌ ‌Presbyterian‌ ‌Church.‌ ‌ ‌

He‌ ‌says,‌ ‌“My‌ ‌identity‌ ‌has‌ ‌these‌ ‌themes‌ ‌of‌ ‌personal‌ ‌character‌ ‌threaded‌ ‌throughout:‌ ‌grit,‌ ‌

steadfast‌ ‌endurance‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌face‌ ‌of‌ ‌great‌ ‌obstacles,‌ ‌awareness‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌weaknesses‌ ‌and‌ ‌mistakes,‌ ‌and‌ ‌movement‌ ‌forward‌ ‌to‌ ‌an‌ ‌expansive‌ ‌and‌ ‌successful‌ ‌leadership‌ ‌vision.”‌ ‌

Currently,‌ ‌Dan‌ ‌Herron‌ ‌is‌ ‌focused‌ ‌on‌ ‌his‌ ‌work‌ ‌at‌ ‌VisionQuest‌ ‌Labs‌ ‌in‌ ‌Indianapolis,‌ ‌Indiana,‌ ‌a‌ ‌

state-of-the-art‌ ‌health,‌ ‌fitness,‌ ‌and‌ ‌performance‌ ‌testing‌ ‌lab,‌ ‌and‌ ‌indoor‌ ‌cycling‌ ‌training‌ ‌center.‌

 

Dan Herron recently had the opportunity to share the story behind one of the most satisfying moments in his professional life.

 

What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?

 

So far, my most satisfying moment professionally was my final day as the pastor at Hope Church.

 

We were recruited in the Spring of 2011 to start this church and just to be hired for that role required a lot. We had four different interviews with three different groups, a 4-day long assessment process overseen by six men and women experienced in church planting and leadership as well as clinical therapists, and a ten-month long residency.

 

In that residency, I moved through the arduous process of “licensure and ordination” which included 5 closed-book written exams totaling nearly 45 pages and 4 follow-up oral exams before committees and the full group of our regional elders.

 

Erica and I were mentored and I gained more ministry experience. I focused on raising nearly $400k in a miraculous 4 months, and we grew in knowledge of Bloomington so we could hit the ground running as soon as we moved in. All of this was just in preparation to begin the work!

 

From 2012-2020 we opened up our home to hundreds of people week-in and week-out. We volunteered, started non-profits to benefit the community of Bloomington, mentored people, counseled people, taught, developed leaders, saw people move, saw new people join us, experienced conflict, betrayal, and made deep and abiding friendships.

 

The goal of our mission had always been to see a financially self-sustaining and self-governing local church developed. I knew that once we reached that goal, that our calling to Bloomington would be complete, and that Erica and I would need to evaluate whether we sensed a calling to remain for the next 10 years.

 

Throughout our years in Bloomington, there were many other professional opportunities that came before me at larger, more prominent churches. I was certainly drawn toward pursuing these opportunities or at least beginning thinking about what it might look like to serve in a different and more supported context.

 

However, Erica and other close counselors helped me keep my focus on our priority goal of seeing Hope established, and reminded me that I was not free to consider other roles until I completed this first goal that God had given me to do. So for many years we kept our heads down and focused on being faithful with the task before us.

 

As the Fall of 2019 approached, I could see that the finish line was very close. I had been focused on leadership training for the past 6 months. The Lord had provided some very mature and tested servant-leaders in certain men and women at the church, and so Hope finally had a stable and incredibly wise group of invested members. The church had also been steadily growing toward financial stability as more people matured in their healthy conception of regular and generous giving.

 

Then, one day I received a phone call from someone whom I had never met. She called to inform me that one of our most beloved members, her father, had recently passed away. He had moved from Bloomington the previous year, but we had kept in touch through phone calls, emails, and family visits to his vacation home in Michigan. He was a man of such kindness, generosity, wisdom, and patient understanding. I grieved with his daughter as we talked, and I shared some of my most treasured memories of her dad.

 

After a moment of pause, she then shared, “My dad loved your church and he loved you. And, so before he died he included your church in his estate planning…” I was shocked at this news—from a conversation that was filled with such grief came such a great surprise of joy and gratitude. And, this is one of the ways that I have learned that God seems to work—he can bring joy from sorrow and beauty from ashes, especially when we least expect and even deserve it. This is the nature of grace. She went on to share his gift that was so generous it would enable Hope to make giant leaps toward financial sustainability and provide a great surplus for the next two years.

 

At this point, Hope was almost self-governing—we had been training potential elders and had a great group of incredible leaders. Hope was almost at the point of being financially self-sustaining—our regular giving had been growing and we now had a huge boost from God’s generosity through this wonderful man.

 

Here is when Erica and I finally began to evaluate our sense of calling and long-term desires. We saw how the Lord was carrying and providing for his Church, and as a result of this assurance we finally felt the freedom to consider other options for our future.

 

In the late Fall of 2019, we communicated all of this to our close friends and leaders at Hope. We spent time grieving together, but then these friends began to affirm our decision to move on. We began working together to further strengthen the organization we had built and prepare for its future.

 

In late January 2020, we announced our plans for our departure to the larger congregation. This was a moment of community grief and celebration as we saw all that had been accomplished over the years, through much pain and struggle to see this new church established. Our time of grieving transformed into a time of hopefulness and excitement for the future.

 

This hopefulness is what continued to carry our congregation through the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic and our radical shift to Zoom church and an online community. This hopefulness is what gave assurance and joy to our congregation as we may have become the first church in the entire history of the church to ordain and install elders over Zoom in early April 2020. And, this hopefulness is what helped Hope find a wonderful leader in the young man who would succeed me and serve as the first Senior Pastor of the church God had planted.

 

My final day as the “planting pastor” of Hope Presbyterian Church was May 31, 2020. We had been gathering for worship services over Zoom since COVID had first hit in late March, and so I was prepping to preach and lead my final service from my laptop. I also happened to be at the “Palapa”—a beach house on Lake Michigan owned by one of my close friends. He had been hosting “friend weekends” for the past several years where 25+ of us guys would spend the weekend together cycling, eating, enjoying great wines from around the world, and sharing our lives together. I also would customarily lead the group through a mini-sermon on the Sunday morning of our weekend.

 

That day, I had just finished leading our group through a lesson from Romans 8:28-39. They had all headed out for a final bike ride, and I was alone in the library of the Palapa—a room with a high natural-wood-paneled ceiling, white ship-lap walls, built-ins filled with books, an antique piano, and a wall-sized painting of the Lake as a Zoom background.

 

I preached my final sermon and led our congregation through my final service. After I had given the benediction and shared a farewell with the congregation, I closed my laptop and wept tears of grief, joy, gratitude, and relief as the huge weight I had borne for eight years was lifted from my shoulders. I looked back in my mind’s eye and also saw that while I felt such a burden through all of the excitement, joy, afflictions, and sufferings of seeing this church started, that I was never truly the one bearing the full weight of this work.

 

Just as He promises in the very passage I had just finished preaching, “Nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” I was never really the one bearing the weight of this church. The Lord himself was, and the Lord would continue to bear the burdens of Hope’s continued survival and growth. As a result of this, I could look forward to the future with great hope and assurance, knowing that God would care for both his Church and my family.

 

Since that time, I’ve been able to look back at some of what was accomplished through our brief time helping to start that church.

 

A lot was achieved through that little church outpost, and all of it as a work of God’s grace:

  1. Nearly 300 people came and went from the church
  2. At the time of my departure, there were around 120 people connected to the church
  3. One of our female members was preparing to enter grad school in hopes of living and serving others in the Middle East
  4. 4 pastors had been produced for different ministries in various areas of the country—Milwaukee, San Antonio, Tennessee, and Martinsville, IN
  5. 4 church staff had been developed and sent out
  6. We saw people scattered throughout the country serving as leaders in business/finance, academics, engineering, higher and primary education, medicine, mental health care, church ministry, counseling, the military—including the SEALs teams, faithful laborers in industry, music, and the arts, and servant-leaders in the home
  7. We saw nearly 15 people come to know about God’s grace and begin to trust in him
  8. Over 20 1st communions
  9. Nearly 30 baptisms
  10. 2 new lay elders and many women and men leaders
  11. 4 men and women pursuing seminary
  12. We raised nearly $20k for a local cancer support center
  13. We helped to start a local non-profit to help care for families in temporary need: Safe Families for Children
  14. We contributed to a closer relationship and collaborative culture between the churches of Bloomington
  15. We helped to establish a global church planting network in Mission Anabaino Collaborative
  16. We started a new campus ministry at Indiana University—Reformed University Fellowship
  17. We saw 2 different members live in and serve the people of China as teachers

 

Environmental engineering and MBA by degree that has found passion within the digital marketing space and as a result transformed businesses and individuals’s realities throughout, by helping them voice their stories on top publications.

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