Chris Gaynor, circa 1980something (mustache courtesy of Magnum P.I.)

This month marks a big milestone around the Summit Church. Our long time worship pastor Chris Gaynor is celebrating 25 years of ministry. 25 years. Here at the Summit.

If you’re not familiar with pastoral tenures, 25 years at the same church is a huge deal. That sets him apart from roughly 99.2% of pastors out there. This is the stuff gold watches are made of. Chris is the Galapagos Tortoise of Southern Baptist pastors.

When Chris started at the Summit (Homestead Heights back then), I was in middle school in Tennessee. That’s right: he’d finished seminary before I’d hit adolescence.


Our staff was asked to contribute notes and letters to Chris to mark the occasion (we’re too cheap to chip in for a gold watch). I’m sharing mine below, because in all seriousness Chris Gaynor is – in many ways – the heartbeat of the Summit Church. His fingerprints are all over the history of this place. He’s been a great friend to me and to thousands of others as well.

If you’d like to join the celebration, comment below or email Chris directly. But use big font. After 25 years, the boy has to squint.


June 9, 2011

Ah, Chris Gaynor. You’re a man of many titles: Husband. Dad. Song Leader. Elder. Senior- Staff-Member-Who’s-Been-Here-Since-Before-Most-Of-Us-Were-Born. Guy-Who-Gripes-About- Being-Called-A-Song-Leader-And-Insists-He’s-A-Worship-Pastor.

And you’re a man of many talents: You sing weekly even though the doctor told you four years ago that your throat was 42,000 miles past an overhaul. You sneeze obnoxiously loud in bright sunshine (You say it’s a malady, I say you just love a good sneeze.). You get away with wearing shorts even though your legs are somehow pastier than mine. Or really, pastier than any human pair of legs on earth.

You’re also a man of many accomplishments: You married up (way up) when you were practically a senior citizen. You’ve had two great kids that love their daddy and already have plans to take over the Gaynor Dynasty (have you seen them direct the choir?). You’ve survived 25 years in the same church. (Well, honestly it’s not really the same church, you made sure of that several years ago when you renamed the joint.)

But for the purposes of laud and honor on your silver anniversary, let’s be somewhat serious for a moment: In a way, you’re responsible for me and Merriem and countless hundreds of other people “sticking” at Homestead Heights / The Summit over the years. You’re a one-man greeting and connecting machine who shakes hands, kisses babies, and has invited more people over for dinner than a hundred pastors combined. That was us, way back in 2002. You let a couple of broke seminary couples (and their combined four kids) crash your house for an afternoon, treating us to an incredible meal and a behind the scenes tour of life in Durham.

You’re a man who has set the spiritual tone for our church for the past quarter-century. When you lead worship, it’s more than evident that you lead from the overflow of your heart. I see that when you’re on the stage just as I see it when you’re in your office or interacting with your family. There’s no pretense, no hype, no shuck-and-jive. Just gut-level honest worship when things are great and not so great in your life.

You’re a pastor in the truest sense: knowing what’s going on in people’s lives and how things are going in their hearts. You’ve kicked off marriages, commissioned infants, and committed saints into the presence of Jesus. You’ve been a counselor and cheerleader and prophet and priest for more people and more situations than most of us will ever know.

So thank you, Chris. Thanks for sharing life and ministry and tears and fears and kicks and giggles with the rest of us. We’re better people because of your presence.

But seriously dude…cover up those legs. You’re ruining our retinas.