This account is based on actual events, but details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
As the interview drew to a close, the pastoral search committee asked if he had any questions. Full of enthusiasm and a genuine desire to please God, Mason Hale asked what they envisioned for the struggling fellowship. Without hesitation the chairman said, "We want to be the Saddleback of the South."
Mason welcomed that challenge. He and his wife packed up their four kids and moved to the fastest growing county in North Carolina to turn Cliffside Community Church, a congregation of 400, into a thriving mega-church.
It was a young congregation. Although this was his first senior pastorate, he was the oldest person on staff. Cliffside was on the verge of major growth; Mason could just feel it.
Things went well at first. Young families joined the church. In seven years, Cliffside grew from 400 to more than 1,000. They helped start another church: New Life Fellowship. Mason commissioned one of his most faithful elders, Jacob Reed, to pastor this new church. Jacob was intelligent and a natural leader. Mason would miss him at Cliffside, but he knew he was the right man for the job.
But just as God called Jacob away, he brought something new to Mason's doorstep. The leaders of a small, dying church came to Mason for help. They said, "Our church hasn't had a pastor for three years. It's stalling, and soon it will die. We have less than 100 attending, but each person is committed to seeing our church survive. Would you consider a merger?"
Mason thought it was a great idea and took their request to his elders, certain they'd agree to support this church in need. Yet the elders ...