My journey as as church pastor began Labor Day Weekend, 1990. That’s 27 years from the time of this writing. You can imagine all that I have seen, heard, or encountered during these many years. Beginning in southern Indiana while completing my studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to continuing to serve churches in Kentucky the following 25 years, and finally returning to Mississippi, where I hope to complete the work which God has called me to fulfill.
Looking back, God has used all of these experiences to bring into crystal clarity, and to solidify, a specific calling which over-arches that general calling upon my life to be a pastor in Southern Baptist churches. That is, the task of “Making Disciples” in the church. Throughout my experiences in three previous church settings, I never seemed to reach the point where I could really give this particular emphasis my fullest attention. As I went through time, as lives were impacted, souls saved, as our churches did minister in their communities, still there was always a piece missing from the puzzle–the body of Christ was not complete. Then, the Spirit of God began to work afresh in my own heart and life to fan the flames of passion and determination to pick up this task and begin to give it the focus of study, prayer, and desire that it deserves. After all, when we see Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, what is the main objective? “Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…” (italics mine).
Several months before God moved in a definite way (just ask any of the members of Faith Baptist Church present when they voted to call me as their pastor), the Holy Spirit placed such a passion in my heart that I began to study the Scriptures as never before, supplementing this study with four other books on the subject of “making disciples” in the church. So, when I arrived, I tried to convey in no uncertain terms that, should this church call me to be their pastor, they could expect me to come for the purpose of “making disciples” in the church. I’m sure that their comprehension of what all this would entail would be limited, because so few churches have genuinely embarked on such an intentional journey (in spite of the fact that the Great Commission can be defined by this task).
Now, nearly two years later, I have finally compiled a body of work that can be taught in our church, apart from the church’s other Bible study ministries. Our church, on a well-attended Sunday may yield around 200 in attendance. So, for them to begin this study with approximately 90 in attendance, spread out between Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings, is impressive! That number far exceeds the evening attendance they have yielded before. So, after 27 years in the making, the stage is set–here is one church taking measurable steps to move our members beyond the realm of “attending services,” into uncharted territory. Time will tell, as to the impact we will make in our surrounding community and world. Once we begin the bear the evidence of “Making Disciples.”