Jack Darida was a stranger in a strange land when he moved to North Carolina four years ago as pastor of Quaker Gap Baptist Church.
He grew up in New Jersey and was a pastor there for eight years, but North Carolina beckoned, since his wife’s parents live in Hendersonville, 200 miles west of Quaker Gap where he has been pastor four years.
Rick Hughes found Darida and brought him under wing. Hughes is working to nurture a discipleship culture in North Carolina Baptist churches.
“Rick has put an exclamation point on discipleship for me as a pastor,” Darida said after a Triangle Leadership Network meeting held in a classroom building at Wake Forest University.
“I’ve been challenged to think more deeply about it and that has come out in the way I’ve pastored this church and in some of the things we’re about.
“I’ve definitely tried to move away from programs and more into a process. Our purpose is to glorify God by growing Christ-like people. We’ve tried across the board to question everything we do as a church to ask how it is helping us to grow Christ-like people.
“Much of what we’re doing has come from my exposure to Rick and making discipleship the heart of ministry.”
It was easy for Hughes to persuade Darida to become involved with the Triangle area pastors network he is building.
“It’s just Rick’s personality,” said Darida, who is on the vision team for Pilot Mountain Baptist Association.
“He’s just such a joyful guy, such a caring, genuine individual that I felt whatever he’s involved in and is promoting is something I should check out.”
Darida’s growth in discipleship prompts Hughes to invite him to share in various forums. Hughes is Darida’s field mentor for his doctor of ministries program through Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Darida is in what Golden Gate calls the first doctor of ministry class in “ministry coaching” in the country.
“Some of the approaches we’ve used in discipleship have become antiquated because of cultural changes,” Darida said. “Coaching seems to connect a little better with our current culture. Coaching is non-threatening to people and it helps them to learn at their pace. It doesn’t force them to learn at your pace. I see a lot of good in using coaching for discipleship.”
Darida was introduced to coaching through a Pursuing Vital Ministry seminar, a former offering of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
“The thing about Rick is him as a person,” Darida said. “He’s a growing disciple and is dead honest about where he is with his walk with the Lord. That’s refreshing. He doesn’t come on as a super pastor; he comes alongside you as a friend.”
Visit church’s web site at www.quakergap.info/QGBC/home.HTML.
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