Adam Hamilton (pastor)
Rev. Adam Hamilton speaks at the 2011 Leadership Institute
|Born||July 12, 1964|
Rev. Adam Hamilton (born July 12, 1964) is the senior pastor of the 20,000 member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. It is the largest United Methodist congregation in the United States, measured by weekend attendance. Average weekly attendance for all campuses was 10,274 people for 2012. The congregation has recently expanded to multiple sites in the Kansas City area, including an online congregation. Rev. Hamilton has received numerous awards including the B'nai B'rith award in Social Ethics, the Denman Award in Evangelism, and the Circuit Rider Award for excellence in church leadership. He was named one of the "Ten People to Watch in America's Spiritual Landscape" by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and named Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church by the Foundation for Evangelism. He has been awarded two honorary doctorates. He currently serves as a Trustee at Saint Paul School of Theology and as a member of the Kansas East Board of Professional Ministry. He lectures on leadership, evangelism and preaching across the country. Hamilton spoke at the 2010 Willow Creek Leadership Summit on the topic of leaders and the power of temptation. Following the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, Hamilton delivered the sermon at the Inaugural Prayer Service held at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. on January 22, 2013.
Education and calling
At the age of 14, Hamilton was at the house of a friend when a Pentecostal layman and door-to-door evangelist knocked on the front door. The visitor evangelized in this way despite being able to speak only through an artificial voice box held up to his throat. The man invited the boys to church, and even though they joked with one another that he sounded like Darth Vader, Hamilton went. Rev. Hamilton has stated that he did not know why he attended the church services but hinted at the answer by admitting, "I wasn't interested in God. I was interested in girls". Original motives notwithstanding, Hamilton continued participating in the church and increasingly felt drawn to God. Finally, after reading the Gospel of Luke, Hamilton decided to become a Christian. His original goal did not go unmet, however. While attending services at the Pentecostal church, he met the girl who would later become his wife, LaVon Bandy. Together, they have two adult daughters.
Still affiliated with the Pentecostal church after graduating, he attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earning a BA in Pastoral Ministry. During his time at Oral Roberts University, Hamilton began questioning the theology he had received during his teenage years. During this period of searching, he came across a copy of the United Methodist Book of Discipline and decided that the United Methodist Church seemed to be a better fit for him theologically. After completing his undergraduate education, he enrolled in Perkins School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary.
Church of the Resurrection
In 1990, following a stint as an associate pastor in a United Methodist congregation, Hamilton was appointed to plant a new church in south Johnson County, Kansas after requesting permission from the local bishop to do so. The bishop excitedly cast a vision to Hamilton that, given 10 years, the church might even grow to 500 members. At the time, all of the schools and community buildings in the area were being leased on Sunday mornings by other church plants who had similar aspirations. Willing to think outside the box, Hamilton decided to ask the owner of the newly built McGilley State Line Chapel funeral home if the new church could meet there for Sunday morning worship services. Before Hamilton got the chance to ask, however, the owner contacted Hamilton and asked him if the new church would consider meeting there. Hamilton casually agreed. The name "Church of the Resurrection" seemed to be a good fit for a congregation that met in a funeral home.
In the early 1990s, most church plants in the area were following the new trend of contemporary worship pioneered by Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Hamilton, again thinking innovatively, realized that many baby boomers in his community had grown up in United Methodist congregations but had left the church in early adulthood. He strategized that many of these nominally Christian boomers would return to a church that resembled the church of their childhood but was more relevant to their daily lives. Judging from the rapid growth of Church of the Resurrection, he was right.
Hamilton also surmised that the educated population of Leawood would be drawn by sermons that engaged not only the heart but also the head. Therefore, Hamilton's sermons are addressed to thoughtful Christians who have questioned their faith and are comfortable with nuance. His aim in preaching is to impart content to the congregation that would be the equivalent of a college course on the topic. As indicated by the title of one of his books and his blog, Hamilton is intellectually comfortable with seeing the gray in a world that often sees only black and white.
Hamilton is committed to the renewal of the mainline church, especially the United Methodist Church. According to the church website, Church of the Resurrection was listed as the most influential mainline church in America in a 2005 survey of American pastors. The Church of the Resurrection has a threefold focus: 1. Reaching non-religious and nominally religious people and helping them become committed followers of Jesus Christ; 2. Equipping and inspiring members to live their faith in mission to the community and world; and 3. Acting as a catalyst for renewing the mainline church. This mission is spelled out with large signage on the walls of the church narthex. Annually, the church hosts Leadership Institute, a conference aimed at mostly mainline church leaders, at which they can learn about the latest outreach methods employed by Church of the Resurrection.
In addition, recruiting, training, and supporting young United Methodist clergy is a major piece of Rev. Hamilton's renewal strategy. He founded the Young Pastors Network with his close friend Michael Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church to help support and train young pastors. In an April 2009 post on the United Methodist Young Clergy website, Rev. Hamilton is quoted as stating:
I have a heart for wanting to see the United Methodist Church renewed. God isn’t finished with it yet. We have an approach for the gospel that is exactly what’s needed for the 21st century. Our theology was postmodern and emergent before it was cool. Young Pastor: The young clergy need the wisdom of those who have come before them and the older clergy need the insight, vision and energy of a group of people who might better understand the needs of this generation. So, in short - I would like to see more REAL partnerships taking place between younger clergy and more experienced clergy - to really begin dreaming and thinking about how the church needs to change in the future.... and then the money to back up their visions!
— Rev. Adam Hamilton
Bibliography and sermons
- Seeing Gray (ISBN 978-1-4267-6662-6)
- The Way (ISBN 978-1-4267-5251-3)
- Final Words (ISBN 978-1-4267-4680-2)
- The Journey (ISBN 978-1-4267-1425-2)
- Forgiveness (ISBN 978-1-4267-4044-2)
- Why? (ISBN 978-1-4267-1478-8)
- 24 Hours That Changed the World (ISBN 978-1-4267-0914-2)
- Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity (ISBN 978-1-4267-0233-4)
- Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics (ISBN 978-0-687-64969-3)
- Confronting the Controversies: A Christian Looks at the Tough Issues (ISBN 978-0-687-04567-9)
- Leading Beyond the Walls: Developing Mainline Churches with a Heart for the Unchurched (ISBN 978-0-687-06415-1)
- Unleashing the Word: Preaching with Relevance, Purpose and Passion (ISBN 978-0-687-08315-2)
- Making Love Last a Lifetime (ISBN 978-0-687-00736-3)
- Selling Swimsuits in the Arctic (ISBN 978-0-687-33393-6)
- Christianity and World Religions (ISBN 978-0-687-49430-9)
Rev. Hamilton maintains a blog and a Facebook account. All of his sermons since 2001 (notes and guides since 2001; audio since 2005; video since 2007) are available at the Church of the Resurrection website. The church also broadcasts eight worship services every week at http://www.rezonline.org. Adam Hamilton's personal website and blog is http://www.adamhamilton.org.
- "2007 Outreach Magazine report: 100 Largest U.S. Churches". Outreach Magazine. 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-17.[dead link]
- "About Our Senior Pastor". Church of the Resurrection. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "Speakers". The Global Leadership Summit. 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
- Kendrick Blackwood (2002-12-19). "Christmas Eve at Adam's House". The Kansas City Pitch. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "Adam Hamilton: What's Christian about Christian leadership?". Google Videos. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Rutledge, Kathleen K (2003). “Adam Hamilton and his bright vision for United Methodism”. Good News magazine. July/August. P. 17.
- Hamilton, Adam. Unleashing the Word: Preaching With Relevance, Purpose, and Passion. Abingdon Press, 2003. P. 30.
- Adam Hamilton (2008). "A future of hope". Good News magazine. Retrieved 2009-07-17.[dead link]
- "Our Purpose: How We Got Here". United Methodist Young Clergy. 2009. Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-17.