In 2004 I applied for a Junior High Pastor role at a church in Henderson, NV (Las Vegas). When I was looking at the church website I read about one of the pastors on staff, his name was Chris Lyons. He was about 70 years old at the time and had been married for almost 50 years. I can still see the picture of Chris and Connie in my mind. I kept thinking to myself: “I would love to work with that guy.”
A couple months later I was hired and working with Chris Lyons. My cubicle was right next to his and I was so nervous. He was a pillar of faith, a man of God, loved his wife, and knew how to care for people. I would end up working closely with Chris for eight years. Chris was like a father/grandfather to me. He was a pastor to me. Chris was a mentor and a friend all wrapped into one.
Chris taught me how to tie a tie. Every time I tie my tie I think about Chris. He would make sure my collar looked good in the back on Christmas Eve and that my tie was the correct length. He was so encouraging.
Chris taught me how to preach, though he never gave me a “preaching class.” Chris helped me work on sermons, sermon series, and my delivery. He would always say: “If you can’t say it in 30 mins then get off stage.” I still think that in my mind.
When we moved into the Freeway Campus at South Hills I still officed very close to Chris. Instead of having cubicles next door we were office neighbors. Every morning I would spend from 8:30-9:00am in his office. It wasn’t an appointment but an invitation. I would talk to him about: preaching, leading, marriage, parenting, writing sermons, sermon series, reaching students, seminary, conflict management, working with elders, pastor transition, and more. Those conversations with Chris are still one of the highlights in ministry.
Chris showed up; all the time! He would come to church every time we were leaving for a camp. I remember one morning he showed up as we were getting ready to head to Hume Lake. So many of our students and parents loved seeing Chris. He would walk from group of students to group of students taking their picture and talking to them. The whole time he was spreading pastoral pixie dust (the love of Christ) on everyone.
There was a young lady in Charity’s small group who told us the reason that she landed at our church. Since I was the high school pastor I was ready to hear about how it was because of me, but it wasn’t. It was because of Pastor Chris’ Sunday preaching. She loved hearing him preach and wanted a grandfather figure in her life. The dude was well into his 70’s and was the best, still is the best, preacher I’ve ever sat under.
Chris would invite anyone and everyone to his home. I can’t tell you how many meals I ate with him and Connie. He was also so welcoming and loving. He would host our Young Adults ministry at his home and just be there to serve. Chris taught me about serving others.
I could continue to write more memories, and most likely will. But for now I will remember all the great times with Chris.