The best part of my job is being able to spend time one-on-one with pastors. Pastors are a gift to the church. They provide leadership, nurture, direction, teaching, counsel and care to God’s children.
The Bible refers to pastors as “shepherds” (I Peter 5:2). Interestingly, this is the same terminology Scripture applies to Christ. In other words, pastors have been made stewards over Christ’s body! What a responsibility and privilege.
I recently had the opportunity to spend time with three men who take that stewardship seriously.
I started my strip in Magnolia, Arkansas where I met with Brent Summerhill, pastor of First Baptist Church. Brent is relatively new to the church in Magnolia. As we talked about his move, Brent repeatedly referred to the warm hospitality shown to his family. He shared about several families who have opened their homes to his family and welcomed them with open arms.
My favorite thing about Brent’s leadership is his focus on strong preaching. In fact, when I arrived in his office, he was in the middle of studying for his sermon with several books spread over his desk. If you ask me, I would say that Brent’s leadership at First Baptist has a bright future ahead. Why? Because it is directed by God’s unfailing Word. What a blessing!
Later that day, I had the opportunity to visit with Rusty Schuler, pastor of First Baptist Church in Red Oak, Texas. Rusty has a fascinating background in church planting ranging from Oregon to Atlanta! While touring the First Baptist facilities, he pointed out a group of ladies who were meeting for discipleship under Rusty’s wife’s leadership. He explained that her discipleship ministry is a powerful asset for the church.
Seeing Rusty and his wife together in ministry caused me to reflect back on my late wife, Jill. One of the greatest gifts God gives a pastor is a strong, godly wife! May God bless the Shulers and their ministry in Red Oak.
My final visit took place in Livingston, Texas. Pastor Brett Lester has done a remarkable job leading First Baptist to become a community-minded church. He explained that their church is involved in many community ministries such as feeding all of the school teachers on the first day of school. They also provide chaplain services to the high school football team and lead a ministry in which parents of players pray over their student athlete’s before games.
As Brett and I were talking, he shared one thing that stood out to me above everything else. In the middle of sharing how his church was involved in the community, he explained, “Then, lay people just started coming up with their own ministries!”
What an exciting phenomenon. When the congregation begins to take ownership of the pastor’s vision for reaching the community! I can’t wait to see what God continues to do through the ministry at First Baptist Livingston.
Three First Baptist Churches, in three different cities, with three different pastors all serving ONE God! What a great road trip.