Have you ever wondered why churches choose pastors and why pastors choose to go to a church?
Dr. George Norris had a class during the summer at BBS on practical circumstances that we as students should know about if we were going to be preachers. Many of the students had just been saved two weeks before their pastor sent them off to college.
Dr. Norris invited a dozen of us students to his church on Saturdays to teach us some things we would need to know about ministry. This was not even a school class. This was a free services by a great man and theologian and pastor.
One of these lessons was on visitation.(this is a fundamental term for visiting people in their homes sometime during the week or on Thursday night ( This also could be a term which means "Soul Winning.") "Do you men know how you are going to build the church that you are going to pastor?", Dr. Norris asked. This was in 1965. As an efficiently seasoned student I was to speak up and say I knew. So we were sent out into the highways and byways in the community around the Gideon Baptist Church of Fort Worth to enlist people, or take a survey as to who we could get as prospective members. This gave me an opportunity to show my stuff.
The following Saturday, in our class, Dr. Norris commented on our project of getting prospective members. He said "I want to give you an example how not to take a survey." And he used me as an example. I guess I was not ready for the pastorate.
This was a life savor for us, because as a whole we were really clueless.. I do remember that he did encourage us to start a church from scratch. I wish I had taken his advice.
This was the norm for fundamentalism. Start a church. Ask God where He wants you to go, and go, start knocking on doors, win souls, and hang out a sign and go to it. Amen brother.
There have been many very successful men who have accomplished this task successfully. And this is wonderful. My father-in-law Robert "Bob" Temple started the Victory Baptist Church in West Portsmouth, Ohio.
Instead of starting a church in Roanoke, Virginia, where I thought about, I took the advice of my and Charity’s friend Linda Clark Shelton., and we went to Wooster, Ohio, as a Youth Pastor. As a side note. In spite of that suggestion, we have remained life-long friends. Her mom and dad Richard and Elizabeth Clark have also been wonderful friends for nearly forty years.
After fourteen months, we left Wooster and went to West Porstmouth, Ohio. So what does the Lord have for us to do now? We pondered this question? How are you to know how to discern God’s will for your life? I am after forty years trying to learn the answer to that question.
This time I didn’t ask Linda Clark. Rather we heard that there was a church in need of a pastor in Minford, Ohio. I remember driving over to the church and looking into the building to see if we could see what the attendance was. You do that you know. If I recall, they had twelve to come to Sunday School that Sunday in June of 1971. "Lord are you calling us to this church?" What was I thinking? What was the presuppositional equation that I am to use to know God’s will?
I was totally clueless as to what I was doing. I knew I could preach, but that was about it. Who knew the history of this church? I was to learn this church was 150 years old and had a history of short term preachers. But I didn’t know that when I accepted their invitation to preach at this church. As I found out soon, this was a GARB church, which was deacon run. I was certainly not prepared for this church government
So why would God direct us to this church, and why would God direct the people to choose me as their pastor? I have yet to figure this out! But it’s like when you are married, it’s no longer a matter of God’s will, you are in this for eternity. Sorry, Charity, but you are attached with me until we die.
Would you believe, before the month wasout, the members wanted me out. How is it that they prayed that the Lord would direct them to the right pastor, and they believed that He had, and when the pastor comes, they are ready to vote him out in the first sixth months he is there.
How is that possible? How do people discern God’s will? I actually think people are genuinely stupefied about this issue of God’s will. Here the church had twelve in church the Sunday I arrived, and in six months we had over ninety. And they asked us to leave. A vote was taken, and would you believe they said that the vote was in our favor. So we stayed. Maybe we should have prayed about that decision. For the next three years, we really had a very fruitful ministry.
Today, the church is doing rather good. Some thirty years later, Randy Barkley is still doing the work of ministry, the bus ministry that is. He is one of the rewards of ministry in that church.
How do you know the will of God for ministry, when to stay and when to leave?
We will continue to look at this question in the next post.
Thanks to those who have make comments, via e mail...
Charity proof read, and truth check, and to Alan Harris: Charity did checked the spelling.