Recently, I was asked by Outreach Magazine to answer some questions about how I lead Brushy Creek Baptist Church. I thought you may enjoy reading this info.
1. MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS. Who has influenced you in your faith journey and ministry, and what did they do that we could all learn from?
Drs. Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, Jay Strack, and Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell would push me to dream big things for God and constantly ask four key questions:
- What would I try if I thought I might succeed?
- What goals would I set if I knew I would not fail?
- What price am I willing to pay?
- What sacrifice am I willing to make?
Jack Graham taught me how to make sure a church a polished, precise, and crisp in how it operates internally, how services take place, and how facilities look.
Ronnie Floyd taught me how important it is to be prepared as you lead a church. In particular, I learned how to maneuver the political side of church ministry. For example, I learned about how to earn chips, decipher how much leadership equity one has, and when to spend it.
Jay Strack taught me the need to be well-rounded in my study of leadership and leaders. He pushed me to read history, business leaders, ministry leaders, academic leaders, etc.
2. LOOKING BACK. What do you wish you’d known when you began your ministry?
I wish I knew how to have perspective. Things that really worked me up when I was in my first pastorate are things I barely remember. They were my whole world at the time, but in the grand scope of life, they just didn’t matter.
Few in the church care about your knowledge of minute theological details, but they care a lot about your love for people. Seminary teaches theology, but it often fails to teach the heart that flows from theology.
3. TRENDS. In a climate in which the media reminds us that the church is in decline, what are you learning about more effectively communicating with a society increasingly disinterested in or even hostile to Christianity?
There are four key words to answer this question:
People who are hostile don’t give you much time. Make your communication with them short, sweet, and heart to beat.
Cultivate the ability to communicate with disinterested or hostile people in a crisp way. Know what you are saying and say it well.
They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
There are a lot of pastors that try to act like something they are not. For example, I am not a trendy guy that knows cool lingo. I like to wear dress clothes and tell corny jokes. That’s my personality. I see some pastors who are 60 and try to act like they’re 30. They’re forcing it. In an increasingly hostile or distant culture to Christianity, I’ve noticed people crave people to be real. You be you.
4. POLARIZATION. The country’s divided—but so is the church. How is the increasing polarization affecting ministry both in the church and in the broader community? Has it driven you to reassess or recalibrate your church’s vision or approach?
It has definitely affected my ministry. The vision hasn’t changed, but the approach has. The church now focuses more on areas of service in order to have people associate the church with act of love for Jesus.
5. INTEGRITY. In light of what seems to be a crisis of leadership in the church, how has it affected your approach to your own leadership? What practices, safeguards and structures have you adjusted or adopted? Any aha moments this year?
Honestly, I’ve become nearly paranoid about it. I have transitioned to only using the restroom in the bathroom that’s in my study. We’ve made it where male and female staff can no longer ever text each other one-on-one. We’ve reiterated the need to keep doors open when meeting one-on-one with someone of the opposite sex, not riding in the car alone with someone of the opposite sex, having windows in all doors in our office complex, etc.
6. FEEDING YOUR SPIRIT. What spiritual disciplines do you practice regularly to nourish your soul? What keeps your faith fresh and energized?
I journal my prayers and follow a Bible reading plan. The mornings are my special time with the Lord, and it is refreshing.