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Robert Morris - A Generational Church


Robert Morris - A Generational Church
TOPICS: Generations

You are here today on a very, very special day because I just finished a ten-week, ten-message series on Dream to Destiny, Joseph, and today I'm going to share with you about the future and I'm going to share with you where we're going and about the succession process. I'm sharing with you years in advance. So, I'm letting you know, but I'm going to let you know that I and the elders have gone through a process, and I'm going to name my successor today. And so, you're here on a very special service.

So the title of the message is A Generational Church. Most churches that are like ours, that are founded by an individual, only last one generation. Most of them don't continue. And we have gone through such warfare in the last five years because Satan knows that all he's got to do is get us to pass it to the wrong person and Gateway Church ceases to exist as it is. All he's got to do is get us to pass it to someone that doesn't have the same DNA that God put in me. And I'm talking about spiritual DNA that God put in me, that the church will carry on like it is, the vision and the values and the spiritual DNA that has drawn you here and caused you to say, Yes, I can get behind this local church and be a part of it.

So, let me share with you just a couple of scriptures, a couple of passages. I have over 100. I've been praying about this for years, and I'll share with you in a moment how many years I've been praying. It'll shock you, but let me share this scripture with you. Numbers 27:15. "Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying: 'Let the LORD...'" Now, this is important because the person that God sets in, it needs to be God setting the person in. Even though I and the elders have prayed about it and gone through a process, it needs to be God. It needs to be God's person. "'Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them'", in other words, he leads by example, "'who may lead them'", this is very important, "'who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD...'" I just want you to notice whose church Gateway is. It's not Pastor Robert's. It's the Lord's. "'...that the congregation of the LORD may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.'"

And we talk about lead and feed. The two main things I do are lead and feed. But I think that most of you see the feeding part and that's going to continue. That won't stop. But I don't know if you realize how important the leading is, and that I pray and spend time with the Lord, and that I lead the elders. We are not an elder-led church. We are an elder-governed church, but senior-pastor-led. God always chooses a person for a task, never a group. Never. He chose Moses. He chose Esther. He chose Deborah. He chose David. He chose Abraham. He chose Paul. He chose Mary. He chooses a person for a task, but He surrounds that person with people to help that person. Are you following me? So, it's extremely important, the person who's going to lead after I am not leading anymore. All right? So, how long have I been praying over this?

On September 16, 1999, God gave me the word to found Gateway Church. I founded the church then on Easter, but on September 16, I was in the prayer center at Shady Grove Church, where I was Associate Pastor, which is our Grand Prairie campus now, and God spoke to me about the church. How long have I been praying about succession? Since September 16, 1999. Because God spoke to me that day that the Gateway Church was to go past one generation, that it was to be a generational church. And one of the scriptures He gave me... He gave me two passages. If you've never read them, I've said it many times. He gave me two chapters, Genesis 35 and Deuteronomy 11.

Here's one part of Deuteronomy 11, verse 18, "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart..." This was God said to me about the church. "...and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand..." It talked about what I was going to do for God. "...and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes". It talked about what I was going to see, the vision God would give me. "You shall teach them to your children..." Now, I want you to think about this, all three of our children... Now, they're not children anymore. They're adults. They're all grown, they're all married, turned into six, but all of them are serving God. God was telling me, "I want your children that will grow up one day. I want them to serve Me". And so God was saying to me, I want you to "...teach them to your children. speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children..." In other words, the next generation. "...may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers [the previous generation] to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth".

Remember, James preached this back in September, God is a generational God. He identifies Himself as a generational God. "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". I want you to know, God is concerned about your children and He is concerned about your grandchildren. We have to impart to our children and to our grandchildren what God's done in our lives so that they will also serve the God of their fathers. Is everyone with me? I want to let you know, God spoke this to me. And on that day, in that prayer center, in that prayer center, God said to me, You will pastor the church 25 years. Now, this last Easter was our 22nd anniversary. That's two-and-a-half more years, and then I will set in my successor, because God said it.

Now, don't get worried, don't get anxious. Don't say, "But, Pastor Robert, the thing I like most about Gateway is your preaching". I understand that. I understand. Okay, I'm joking. But here's what I want you to know. I and the elders have been talking about this. Debbie and I are not going anywhere. We're going to be a Gateway Church the rest of our lives. We're not going anywhere. We're not going to the rocking chairs. We're not ready for the rocking chairs. All right? But the transition is going to be longer than you think. In other words, I'm going to set a man over the congregation in two-and-a-half years, but I'm actually going to continue in the pulpit for many years after that because God has called me to do this. And then, we'll move, transition, begin to transition the pulpit. But we're talking probably a seven- to ten-year process. All right?

So, slow down on your worry, okay? Just relax. I want to say this straight out. Trust me and trust the elders of Gateway Church. We have always been a Spirit-led church. Always. We went into this decision knowing we had to hear God, and we had to do our due diligence. And so, we began this years ago. We started talking about this ten years ago, that the transition would come, and we needed to talk about it. So, one of the reasons that I need to transition is because it says God is the God of, He says, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". He doesn't say, "I'm the God of Abraham and Jacob". Here's what I mean by that. When I started the church, God gave me four generations to think аbout: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then here's a very easy question. Whom did we just finish a series on for ten weeks who was the son of Jacob? Thank you. Boy, if you hadn't gotten that one wrong, I would have been extremely upset with you. So He's not only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but Joseph.

So God gave me, when I started the church, those four names, and said to me, "I want you to focus on four generations. I always want Gateway to be a generational church, all at the same time". In other words, Joseph are those under 20; Jacob I saw as those 20 to 40; Isaac, 40 to 60; and Abraham, 60 and over. So I put this out to the staff, the volunteers, the leaders, all three of us, when we started. When we started the church, I said, "We are going to have ministry that focuses on those birth to 20, 20 to 40, 40 to 60, and 60 and over". Is everyone following me? So I now am 61 years old. I know I don't look it, but I am. Okay? You should have laughed more on that. But I'm a part of the Abrahamic generation now. I need to pass it to Isaac in the next few years. But I'm still going to continue, again, in the pulpit, almost the same that I'm doing for quite a few years, and then for the rest of my life.

Again, I'm going to be doing stuff for the rest of my life at Gateway Church, Basically, until the elders come to me and say, "Pastor Robert, you're starting to say that there are twelve Commandments and there are ten, and that there are ten disciples and there are twelve. It's time for the rocking chairs". Okay? All right. But I'm here. We're not going anywhere. You'll be hearing me preach. The television ministry will continue. The radio ministry will continue, but I'll be here, okay? I'll become, in two-and-a-half years when I pass the senior pastorship to this person, I'll become the senior apostolic elder, the lead apostolic elder. So, I will still at any time be able to come into the eldership and say, "I want to share some things," at any time. And I've earned the right to do that. And God's giving me...

Now, you know what? I shouldn't say that. I haven't earned the right to do it. God's given me that position. God called me to be the senior pastor. No man called me to do this. God did. So, we're going to make this slow transition, very slow. I'm just giving you the heads up. All right? I also want you to know that we went through a process. We didn't just pray. We interview everyone we hire. So, why wouldn't we interview for this position, the top position. In other words, we didn't... Now, I'm not discounting prayer because every elder and every apostolic elder got a word from God. And I'm going to share something that even the elders don't know that I just found out about about Pastor Jack Hayford. I haven't been able to talk to him the last two years because of his health, but I found out that God gave him a word that lines up.

So, every apostolic elder and every elder is in agreement 100% and has a word from God. So, I'm not discounting that. But we also interviewed. We took this person... we also hired three consultants. So, we took this person through 39 interviews in six months. I was telling Debbie that, and she referred back to the Roman law, and she said the reason he went through 39 interviews is because 40 will kill a man. 39 interviews. The elders interviewed him. And the elders and wives interviewed him and his wife multiple times. The consultants interviewed him. We did gifts tests. We did personality tests. We did intellectual tests. We did leadership tests. We did all of our due diligence. Every consultant that does this, that are nationwide consultants, these are national consultants, that you would know their names because of the size of our church. They all said, 100%, "This is your man". 100%, "This is the man". All of the elders said, 100%. "This is the man".

After every interview, I was shocked. I had one consultant say to me, "I have never spoken to a man his age, and I've worked with 300 out of 500 Fortune 500 companies". That's pretty amazing. And he said, "I've never spoken to a man his age as wise or as smart as he is". Never. I was shocked. I was blown away. I said to the elders, "Do your worst". "Do your worst. I mean, throw curveballs at him. Do everything you can to get him off balance. I want to know, can this man stand up"? I took the whole month of February, last February, and prayed and sought the Lord every day. I didn't come into the office. I didn't preach. Pastor Josh preached that whole month. I didn't preach. I took every day. And I actually started about eight days early, and I went a little bit into March.

So, I actually believe when I look back at it that it was 40 days. It's just kind of shocking to me when I look back at it today that it looks like it was right at 40 days of spending every day with the Lord, every day. And then I nominated to the elders the person, and then I recused myself, and I said, "Now it's up to you guys". And they took six months of interviews, consultants. They went through, and then we voted in September, and the vote was 12-0, we have twelve elders. 12-0, unanimous. It's the only motion. We normally do a motion, and a second, and then a vote in the elder meeting to make a legal move or approval of something. It's the only motion that's ever been seconded by every elder. So everybody's in agreement. You know what's amazing is you're all waiting to hear who it is. You're not even listening to me right now. I can see the looks on your face, like when I'm talking to Debbie about the tenses of Greek words. I can see it. You're all like, "Get to it, Pastor Robert"!

So, I'm going to tell you who it is, and it might surprise some of you. Some of you might say, "I already knew that. God told me". But some of you might be surprised, very surprised. But I'm going to tell you who it is, because I want to tell you some prophetic words that God's given him over the years, even since he was a small boy. But I'm going to tell you something about him that you might not know. His middle name is actually Robert, and his last name is Morris. Your next senior pastor, please stand up, is James Robert Morris. Thank you. Now, I know you haven't heard him preach much, and I know that could be a concern. Here's what all the consultants told us, and this is what I already knew. "He's a processor, he's a learner, and anything he does, he becomes an expert at it".

And that's what all the tests showed. I showed you pictures of him wakeboarding. He decided to wakeboard. He became an expert. He was a deer farmer for a while. He became an expert at it. I have a deer on my property that he raised that probably scores over 300. And for some of you, that doesn't mean anything, but for some of you, you understand what that means. So, they have five-and-a-half acres. They have cows. They have chickens. They have pigs. They have everything. But whatever they have, they have a chicken coop that they put on YouTube that's being called the Chick-Mahal that James designed and built himself. He went to Baylor for business. He went into business for six years and did extremely well in business. Very well. He began being mentored by Steve Dulin when he was 15. Steve made him, the very first thing he made him do was memorize four scriptures a week. Just to do simple math.

I know there are 52 weeks a year, but let's just say 50 for simple math. 50 times four is 200. 200. So, he made him memorize 200 scriptures a year. But he did that for ten years. So, he memorized 2000 scriptures. One vacation, we were talking about it, and someone in our family, we have family vacation every year. By the way, all of our family, Josh and Hannah love you very, very much. They are 100% behind this decision. Ethan and Elaine love you very much. They are 100% behind this decision. So our family has been having family meetings saying, God, who's the person? I met with Dan Cathy, with Chick-fil-A, because he just set his son in as his successor. And I said, "Dan, what's the number one thing you looked for"? He said, "DNA. If he doesn't have the DNA", he said, "We have a lot in our family that have the ability and we have a lot that have the DNA, but who's the DNA carrier? That's what you're trying to look for".

Because Truett Cathy, who founded Chick-fil-A, passed it to Dan, and he's got Bubba, and I forgot the other guy. I don't know him as well. You might know him, Steve. So, I talked with David Green, with Hobby Lobby. This is not a decision we've entered into lightly. I want you to know that. But when it comes to preaching and teaching, God spoke this to James years ago that he would be the next senior pastor of Gateway, but he didn't tell anyone except Bridgette. Never told me. Never told anyone else, But he said the Lord told him, "So, start preparing". So, I said, "lead and feed". So, he spent five years studying leadership. Then when I talk about feed, I talk about content and delivery. So he started, he and Bridgette started The King's University together, taking one or two classes a semester, whatever they could in the evenings. They are now just four classes away from their master's degree in theology. So, he was learning content.

In January, God said, "Now starts studying delivery". So in February, he and I spent an entire day together, and I was interviewing him about whether this was God's position for him or not. And so he said, "Can I ask you something about preaching"? And he asked me about delivery. He asked me questions I'd never been asked before because of the way he processes. And so, I couldn't even believe it. I've done lots of preaching classes, but he asked me questions that made me tell him things to process. He was speaking three days later in our chapel. He got up and preached, and our whole staff was like, "Where did this guy come from"?

By the way, if you don't know, he was the first janitor of Gateway Church, and I don't mean the first maintenance man, because back then it was a janitor. It was cleaning toilets. And we would have service on Saturday night in Christ our King on 1709, which is not there anymore. It's a furniture store or something now. A what? No, the one in front. It was the one on the corner. No, Steve, it's not a golf store. There are other stores other than golf. PGA Superstore is behind some store that you've never been in. I can guarantee it, okay. I was asking the Lord because I'm giving you a lot of facts to add humor to the message. Thank you very much. Okay. But we would have service on Saturday night because there wasn't anywhere else to have service. And James would clean the building all night so it'd be ready for them to have service the next morning.

After being in business for six years and right on the brink of owning his own company then, which was his dream, he said, "Dad, I'm not supposed to do this. I'm supposed to go into ministry". And I said, "Well, what would you want to do because Gateway is a large church, and I don't do the hiring". And so I said, "What would you want to do"? He said, "I'd either want to work in stewardship, which helps people learn to manage their money," and James has always been extremely good at managing his money, "or I'd want to work in the marriage ministry because I really want to see healthy marriages". And I said to him, "Well, you've only been", at that time, I said, "Well, you've only been married five years, so you know nothing about marriage, but you know a lot about finances".

So he came to work in the stewardship department, and then as one of the pastors out of seven, then he began to lead the stewardship department only after a few months. Then he began to lead four departments. Then he began to lead more than that, and then more. What you don't know is he oversees right now over half the church. And I'm putting him in a new position called the Associate Senior Pastor. So, he'll report directly to me so I can mentor him now for the next two-and-a-half years. So, I'll personally be mentoring him for this position. So, God has done this very thorough work, and we believe we've done a subjective and an objective process through this. Let me tell you some prophecies that have been spoken over his life. When he was in the 6th grade, at Shady Grove, one of the presbyters asked him to stand up. He was sitting with his friends.

So, Debbie was sitting with Syble, Pastor Olen's wife. I was on the platform with Pastor Olen and some other elders, and so they didn't know he was my son. And this presbyter pointed at him and said, "Would you stand up"? He was in the 6th grade, and I'm putting these prophecies on the screen so you can see them. This is what he said, because we wrote it all down. "I saw you like your dad, carrying on his ministry, but it was far greater than your dad's ministry. There was massive growth, and you were leading. There were huge crowds, and you were preaching". This prophet, after he prophesied, came over, and he said to Pastor Olen, "Is his dad a preacher"? He was hoping he had not just prophesied over an insurance salesman's son.

When James and Bridgette went through Presbytery here, Pastor Preston Morrison, we all know Pastor Preston, prophesied this. James, "Now is the time to learn. It's not yet time to lead. Because what you're learning today is all about the leader God needs you to be tomorrow. It's big, James! This is a big assignment. I'm going to give you 10 things. And then I'm going to give you 100 things". What Preston didn't know was, God told me, "When you begin the process of mentoring your successor, Gateway Church will have ten campuses". We have ten campuses now. And what God told me was, "Your successor will take Gateway to 100 campuses".

What Preston also didn't know was God had already told James, "When your dad begins to mentor you, Gateway will have ten campuses, but you're to take it to 100 campuses". And Preston prophesied that. Pastor Larry Stockstill prophesied over him. "James, I see you as a shepherd and a big pasture with a large staff in your hand. James, you are to stand on your father's shoulders. You will reach the next generation. You and your father are to work together. Everything you need for the future is down in you. And when you need them, God is going to just turn it on like a spigot, Just like Joel Osteen had only preached three times before his father died". Now, that part about his father dying is not from God. He was just using that as an analogy. Okay? But watch what he said. "Just like Joel Osteen". And look what God's done with Joel, over 100 times the growth, "had only preached three times before his father died and he took over the church. You will do the same. James, you have your father's DNA more than any other. You are a protector of his DNA. You will carry on your dad's DNA".

Wayne Drain in presbytery prophesied over him. "James, you're strategically positioned for the divine appointment the Holy Spirit will reveal in His time. James, a mantle of leadership is being fitted for your shoulders. You are a shepherd like David who could slay giants because he loved God and he loved God's people. James, know that whatever you think it could be, it is bigger. It is more than you could imagine. You are a likable guy. And that is necessary to lead a church. People love you. You love them and so they see it. There is more to it", in other words, there's more to this prophecy, "but I haven't felt released to share it all". And then Wayne caught me in the green room and said, "The part that the Lord didn't release me to share is that James is your successor".

When James and Bridgette were going through presbytery, I was praying for him that morning, and I had this prayer come to my heart. So I said, "God, if James is supposed to be my successor, I'm just going to pray what's in my heart, then have someone prophesy Psalm 78:72 over him". Now, there are 31,102 verses in the Bible. So, I could say, "What are the odds"? But for you mathematicians, you'd say, "Well, the odds are one out of 31,102". And that's true. So, think about that. I asked for one verse to be prophesied over him if he was to be my successor. During his presbytery, Steve Dulin, who had mentored him for years, walked up, took the microphone, and said, "I have a scripture, and I have to say it. It's Psalm 78:72". This is what it says. "So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands".

But I asked for that scripture if he was to be my successor, And it was spoken over him that day. You can't script these things. As I said, all elders are in agreement, all apostolic elders. So, Pastor Olen and James Robinson came in and shared with our elders. They interviewed James. They said, "We're 100% confident he's the man". But what I didn't know was Pastor Jack, that I haven't been able to talk to in two years... But here's what I found out, guess what, this week. I'm sharing with you this week, and I find this out this week. There's a man that at that time was leading a few years ago, Jack Hayford Ministries. So, he was talking with James, and then he was talking to Pastor Jack. And he said, "Pastor Jack, I was talking to James this last week, and he kind of jokingly said to me, 'Hey, since we're moving Jack Hayford Ministries to Gateway, since you're leading it, you ought to move to Gateway.'"

And when he said that, Pastor Jack got very serious and said, "If Pastor James Morris told you to move to Gateway, you need to move to Gateway". And he said, "Well, Pastor Jack, I think he was just kidding with me". He said, "That doesn't matter". He said, "Pastor James Morris is Pastor Robert's successor. They just don't know it yet. But God has already spoken that to me". And that was Pastor Jack Hayford. I going to tell you one other prophetic word that God gave one year before James was born, one year to the day before James was born. Debbie and I, for many years, we pray at night before we go to sleep. That's our prayer time together. So we had just prayed, and then we were about to go to sleep, and the Lord spoke to me, and I told Debbie, "Get a piece of paper and a pen and write this down".

And so she wrote this down. We have it written down. This is what the Lord said, "One year from today..." And by the way, it was exactly one year from the day. "One year from today, you will have a son. He is to be named James Robert Morris after James Robison and you". That's back when James Robison was preaching the big crusades like Billy Graham. "And his ministry will surpass both of yours put together. He is to be born at home..." Josh, who is our firstborn son, was a C-section, after a very hard labor. Doctors would not recommend having a child born at home after a C-section. But God told us, "He is to be born at home and separated to Me from birth. On the day he's born, Satan will try to kill him, but I will save his life". We have that written down. One year later, exactly, he was born. Exactly one year later, on May the 9th, 1985. And on the day he was born... And by the way, he was 9 lbs. and 5 oz. Yeah, all the ladies went, "Oh". And the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and his face was purple, and the midwife unwrapped it from his neck, and he began to breathe.

God spoke this. God said this. So, if you remember, I told you that on the day I was born, my mother had a devotional. The devotional said, "Today a prophet is born which shall preach to the nations". And there was a scripture which I'm going to read you in just a moment. My parents held me up to the Lord on the day I was born and dedicated me to be a prophet to the nations. Debbie and I held James up on the day he was born and dedicated him to be a prophet to the nations. This is the scripture God gave my mother, which I read over James when he was born.

Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations". What I'm trying to tell you is, this is God. Let your heart... Let me say it this way. I'm going to quote someone famous. "Let not your heart be troubled". Jesus said that, by the way. John 14. Please, please, please, please. We know this is going to happen at some point, but we have to go after the next generation. We have to. Listen, would you agree that Satan is pursuing the next generation? Let me tell you something. The one that wants the most is going to get them. And I want them, and Gateway Church wants them, and Jesus wants them. We are going to pursue the next generation. And God has spoken. He's spoken to the elders, and He's spoken to me, and He's spoken to the apostolic elders. But here's the reason I wanted to end with that verse.

What about you? Here's what I want you to know. Before God formed you in the womb, He knew you. He knew you, and He sanctified you. That word means separated. He set you apart for a purpose, and He has ordained you to do something for His kingdom. So, even though I've been sharing with you about where we're headed in the future, I want you to know that God says this: "I know My plans for you, plans for good, plans for hope, plans for a future". No matter what you've been through, God has a good plan for you, and He has a future for you as well. And you need to lay hold of that for which you have been laid hold of.

I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes, and I want you to just take a moment. I know I shared a lot about what God's going to do with gateway in the future, but I really felt like God told me to end with that scripture because I want you to just, after going through Joseph having a dream and having a destiny and going through tests, notice, God got him to his destiny. So, I want you to just ask the Lord, maybe this week, "Lord, what did You form me to do? What did you separate and ordain me to do for You, for the kingdom? Will You reveal that to me, or would You remind me of that? And Lord, I want to commit to be a person who builds Your kingdom on this earth".

Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters, and I thank You that You're not only a generational God, that Gateway is a generational church. And we are going to continue to reach the next generation, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, in Jesus' name, amen.

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