If you grew up an independent fundamental Baptist, you knew about every sermon you heard was going to encourage you to pursue a job as a missionary, a preacher, or evangelist, or youth pastor, or some ministry in a local church.
Almost every revival you attended, every World Baptist Fellowship meeting you attended in Virginia, or North Carolina, the preachers were preaching to you to become a preacher, evangelist, or some kind of ministry in the local church, and then go to Bible Baptist Seminary in Arlington, Texas.
And my dad went to a WBF meeting every month when I was a kid and took the family, and many times he was the last speaker of the meeting. In those days, WBF meetings went three days and nights. Goodness. And I heard a lot of preaching to make ministry my life’s work.
I was really pumped and primed for pastoral ministry from the earliest days of my life. From the third grade, by brother Don and I were playing church. He would be Billy Graham one day and I was J. Frank Norris the next day. We went next door to the church and had church on Monday and Tuesday.
By the time I was fifteen I was involved in ministry, and my dad asked me to teach the young people. Twenty-seven months I was the youth pastor of Roanoke Baptist Temple and then I graduated from Jefferson High School in Roanoke, Virginia in May of 1966. My training in preaching and doing ministry as a youth pastor was self-taught and from watching dad. What I learned in those days was used in our ministry even until now. Myself and my younger brother Donald, and our school days side kick and friend Algie (Al) Myers hit the road preaching at youth rallies in Virginia and North Caroline
So to have this idea of preaching was normal for me. From the eighth grade in middle school, I knew in my spirit I wanted to preach. And my dad was ready to let me work in the church.
Then I attended Baptist Bible Seminary in Arlington Texas. WHY? I believed that was the direction that I should go for proper training to learn to preach and pastor a church.
SEMINARY TRAINING WAS TO BE FOR TRAINING YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN FOR MINISTRY.
These pastors and professors were themselves fundamentalist trained. Maybe it was because I was a young seasoned preacher before I attended Seminary that I was not so yielding to training by another. I did have an attitude in Seminary. I had no problem in the class room; I wanted to learn. But I also wanted to do ministry. Having a Mentor in Seminary? Outside the class room, we didn’t communicate with the preachers or teachers. All this was back in 1966, I am sure today that all has changed.
While I did receive some good WBF preaching training, and WBF pastoral training, somewhere along the way, those things I learned didn’t help. As pastor what I drew on was previous training prior to attending Bible Baptist Seminary.
Now the J.F. Norris camp knew how to get a crowd of people together. There were some big churches and the pastors had attended the Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Akron Baptist, Canton Baptist, Dayton Baptist, Massillon Baptist, to name just a few who had large churches. So to pastor a large church they knew how to do that. Some where along the line, I didn’t get the know how of how to do that. Well, maybe a little, knocking on doors, soul winning and promotions and, of course, the bus ministry.
- SEMINARY TRAINING FOR ME, DIDN’T GIVE ME THE TRAINING TO PASTOR. I know THAT IS A BOLD STATEMENT, BUT THE ABILITY TO PASTOR ANOTHER ESTABLISHED CHURCH JUST WAS NOT IN THE TRAINING . SEMINARY TRAINING DIDN’T HELP ME WITH THE PRACTICAL DAILY WORK OF MINISTRY. AS A MATTER OF FACT, WHEN I GRADUATED FROM SEMINARY I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO OUTLINE A SERMON. THAT IS THE WBF WAY. (And yet the pastors and professors knew themselves how to do ministry and preach and pastor a church). MENTORING MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE PROBLEM. This was 1966-1970.
I REALLY BELIEVED THE ONLY FUNDAMENTALIST PREACHERS were Baptist. To think I could learn from another group of preachers and professors that were not Baptist would be a sin. I HAD NEVER HEARD OF REFORMERS, OR EVEN EVANGELICALS.
Those top ten churches in America in 1968 were Baptist Fundamentalist. Why wouldn’t you want to have a church like them? So I wrote those top hundred churches and asked them “HOW DO YOU PASTOR A CHURCH AND HOW DO YOU GET A CROWD?” I have written a post on that. I have addressed this history in previous posts.
- The top photo is the entrance of Arlington Baptist College, and Bible Baptist Seminary
- The second and third photo Cederville University