Face down on the floor of his hotel room Dan Hall was fighting for every breath.
In August 2016 he had just gotten into Houston on a late flight and settled into his hotel. It was all routine.
As a longtime Baptist pastor and church revitalization consultant, he was used to solving churches’ life-or-death crises. But this was different — now he appeared to be having one of his own. He suffered a pulmonary embolism, passed out, fell down and woke up a quadriplegic.
As he lay there that night gasping for every breath, he would whisper a prayer every few seconds and picture the faces of his family. Then he would use what breath he had to cry for help in the hours before being discovered by hotel staff, trying not to focus on the fact that he was dying.
“The Lord gave me grace in that moment to fight for my kids,” he said.
That kind of grace wasn’t new to him — Hall had actually learned to fight tooth and nail a long time ago, just a different kind of battle.
He had felt the call to be a pastor as a young man and after college, as he moved from pastorate to pastorate, he began to see a pattern of God doing something unusual.
He saw a declining church in Kentucky go from 850 to 2,000 in four years’ time. He saw a south Florida church in bankruptcy go from 1,800 to 5,000 in two years.
God ‘turned it around’
“They were in severe trouble and God did a work — He turned it around,” Hall said.
Not only that — He did something in Hall too. “I started realizing in my ministry that I … found great joy in taking the churches that were in trouble and helping them figure out where they fit,” he said. “I enjoyed the crisis.”
Hall decided to become more consultant than pastor. Sometimes he would take on a transitional pastorate.
Sometimes he would just meet with church staff to help them figure out what to do next.
Help in a time of crisis
Mike May, executive pastor at First Baptist Church, Brandon, Mississippi, said Hall was a “phenomenal” help to their church in a time of crisis.
“He’s a tremendously effective leader,” May said. “Everybody just fell in love with his leadership and him as a person.”
That’s where Hall was serving in 2016 when he took that trip to Houston and his life changed forever. After weeks of fighting for his life followed by weeks of rehab he found himself speaking again at First, Brandon, a living metaphor for the churches he had seen go from near death to vibrant life again.
Recently he walked alongside Valleydale Baptist Church, Birmingham as they prepared to call Mac Brunson as pastor.
When Hall consults with churches he talks their leaders through a variety of topics to find out areas that are healthy or unhealthy. Part of that is looking at staffing, whether or not it is being maximized and if a pastor is experiencing “seepage” of energy in areas he could delegate.
Hall is just as active as ever in meeting with churches and walking with them through their struggles. He’s been able to help churches avoid a split, navigate a pastor transition or simply adjust their systems to fit their church’s needs.
He loves helping churches through a crisis, he said. And as an added blessing Hall has been able to share the story of his personal crisis — how God taught him to fight for joy and lean on grace.
“It’s not important that I know why all this has happened; it’s important how I respond to it,” said Hall. “God has taught me to cultivate joy through gratitude.” (BP)
For more information about Hall’s ministry, visit ocschurch.com.