Creative LeadershipCreativityEngaging Culture

Saying Goodbye To Pastor Jack Hayford

On February 18th Kathleen and I attended the memorial service for Jack Hayford, Pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. I had known about “Pastor Jack” for a long time, but it was when we moved our family to Los Angeles in 1991 that we started attending the church.

We raised our daughters there, and during that time, experienced one of the most amazing pastors I’ve ever known. I think of him as “The Protestant Pope” because he was so brilliant at unifying believers of all kinds. He impacted multiple denominations, church networks, and Christian organizations, and his influence will be felt for generations to come.

At one point he grew frustrated with his national weekly television program, and asked me to step in and coach his in-house media team. The first thing we did was talk him into getting a better wardrobe. Jack was one of the most humble people I’ve ever known, and never gave a thought to how he dressed – and it showed.

So I brought in a wardrobe stylist. One day, after taking his measurements, she carried in a huge rack of new clothes and I thought Jack would have a heart attack. He literally panicked and wanted to go home, but we talked him off the ledge and into trying on just one jacket.

To our shock, he loved it. Then he tried a different shirt, then a sweater, and even a scarf. He got so inspired, he put on an impromptu fashion show in the office.

We had created a fashion icon.

And it never stopped. Years later, I ran into him at an airport, and the first thing he said was, “Phil, do you like this jacket? I think it really compliments my eye color.”

Jack was brilliant, and incredibly funny. (He was a xylophone player after all.) And keep in mind, he wasn’t just the pastor at Church on the Way, he was the worship leader as well. Over all those years, Jack led worship and it was the most amazing thing to experience. He wrote worship songs, and even wrote books on worship. And I have to admit that even today, I compare worship leaders to the standard Jack set for teaching a congregation how to experience the power and majesty of God.

I had the rare opportunity of spending a number of years with Jack up close and personal – developing television programs and video teaching, editing messages to have the greatest impact in those formats, as well as just experiencing “Jack.”

It was a joy and experience I’ll never forget.

Goodbye for now Pastor Jack. We’ll see you soon.

This is a short tribute and here’s the entire memorial service.

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