Serving on a pulpit search committee is a heavy burden to bear. Your church has entrusted you with the responsibility to find the next spiritual leader of your church. The candidate that you eventually present to them may or may not be somebody they like. Unfortunately, for many people and many committees, it comes down to what someone does or doesn’t like; it comes down to preference. And unfortunately, many churches have split because of the color of the carpet or whether or not a pastor uses notes when he preaches. I know of one local church who, in their decision to call a man as their pastor, one member said that he was the best preacher she had ever heard — because he didn’t use notes when he preached. Seriously?!
Many resumes will pass through the hands of your committee members. So how do you sort through them all? Resumes only provide a small snapshot of someone’s background and accomplishments. But where do all these potential candidates stand on issues that matter to people (which may actually be based more on preferences than sound doctrine)?
Since graduating from seminary over 30 years ago, committees have asked many “closed-ended” questions about whatever hot-button issues were popular at the time — like “inerrancy” and “Calvinism”. I have learned that oftentimes when somebody asks about my beliefs on the authority of the Bible, they’re actually asking a “political” question; they’re asking who I side with in the SBC. Unfortunately, a simple “yes/no” answer simply doesn’t answer the real question in the mind of the committee.
A committee recently sent me a few questions. I was thoroughly impressed with the substance of the questions! It appeared that they genuinely understood the issues behind the questions! How refreshing!
My answers, along with my blog and social media profiles should paint a very good picture of who I am and what I care about. Here are the questions they asked, plus a few more that I have added. As always, if you need further clarification, just ask!
Who are your role models/mentors for ministry and what about them do you admire?
I have enjoyed for many years reading books, blogs and listening to people like John Piper, Rick Warren, Ed Stetzer, and John MacArthur. Although I have not read a great deal of Beth Moore, I have greatly benefited from her ministry as well.
What I admire about these leaders is their commitment to the practical application of God’s Word, showing its relevance for everyday life for ordinary people.
What types of sermons do you normally preach?
I always preach very practical, Bible-driven sermons. Sometimes this takes the form of unpacking a passage in a verse-by-verse style, but most often is more “topical” in nature. Regardless the format, I seek to illustrate the sermon’s “big idea” by bringing other Scriptures into view to show how the passage relates to the Bible at large and its practical application in everyday life.
Please share briefly your preferences or convictions regarding those issues and concerns that have arisen within Baptist denomination and convention life today, such as:
What words do you use to describe the reliability of Scripture?
Inspired, infallible, inerrant, and wholly authoritative for equipping Believers for every good work. (2Tim 3:16-17)
Do you believe God has already decided who will be saved, or do you believe each person is free to decide whether or not to respond to God’s offer of salvation and be saved?
The Bible is very clear that God has chosen His people from before the creation. (Eph 1:4) Everyone who comes to Christ does so because God draws him/her (John 6:44). Salvation is completely a work of God, so no one can make a claim that he/she has contributed to it (Eph 2:8-9).
The Bible is also very clear that each person is responsible for his/her own response to the Gospel message (Luke 9:23).
The Bible is also clear that believers are to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20). How can we make disciples without taking the Gospel message to the lost?
What role does the pastor have within church governance?
The pastor’s role is to serve as a shepherd to “lead and feed” God’s sheep. The pastor does not have more of a “direct line” to God than any other church member. However, because of his gifts and calling, he is responsible for the health of the local church fellowship. Jesus is the Head of the church and has appointed a plurality of leadership (pastors/elders/deacons) for the functioning of each local fellowship of believers.
What roles are you comfortable with women serving in the church? Teaching all ages? Committee Chairman? Deacon? Pastor?
In discussing spiritual gifts, Paul does not differentiate between men and women as recipients of those gifts. Men and women have shared in impacting churches and bringing lost people to Jesus. The SBC would not have its international missions program without the work of women.
The New Testament mentions women functioning as deacons (Phoebe in Rom 16:1), prophets (Anna in Luke 2:36), and apostles (Junia in Rom 16:7) however, no precedents are given of women serving as “senior” pastors. If women were free to serve in these various capacities in the First Century, I don’t see a problem with them functioning in similar capacities in the modern-day church.
The Greek word for woman and wife is identical; similarly, Greek doesn’t make a distinction between man and husband. Accordingly, when we look at Paul’s instructions about women being silent (1Cor 14:34) and not exercising authority over a man (1Tim 2:12), we can only properly understand these “difficult” passages by studying their context. Paul tells his audience that women should not exercise authority over their own husbands in the church environment. Specifically, 1Cor 14:34 addresses the issue of who can “judge” prophecy; Paul says that a wife should not criticize her own husband’s prophecies (“preaching” in modern vernacular). Unfortunately, many have taken these passages out of their immediate context (propriety in church meetings) and specific New Testament instructions regarding husbands and wives have been given general application to men and women. The result: many men have missed out from the insights of Godly, gifted teachers like Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer and many women have been deprived of using the gifts that God has given for the purpose of ministering to the church.
In what areas of your ministry do you have the most passion?
Discipleship: helping people connect the dots between the Bible and everyday life so they can be more like Jesus.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced so far in ministry?
My biggest challenge was attempting to breathe life into a dying church, my first pastorate. I was successful at growing the church’s depth and bringing healing from years of spiritual abuse. But decisions made long before I arrived, set in motion a spiral that the church was unable to recover from. After much prayer, we closed the doors. In doing so, we were able to set the stage for several successful ministries to be launched from our location by the Parker Baptist Association. And three years after we closed the doors, a new church reopened the doors and is currently ministering in the community. As painful as it was to close our doors, it is obvious that God is in all of it.
What is your leadership style?
I approach leadership from a “team” perspective. I am not a dictator. I don’t have the personality, nor the gifts to be that kind of leader.
How would you describe your temperament?
Short answer: I am a melancholy-phlegmatic introvert with a pastoral heart.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading, spending time with my family, music, and backpacking.
Have you been married before?
Amy and I were married in 1988 and neither of us was married before.
Have you been charged with or convicted of a crime?
No, unless you include a few “moving violations” in over 40 years of driving.
Will you give permission for a background check?
Yes. In this day and time, to be a good steward of the church body, the church should do a standard background check on each of its leaders.
How do you handle conflict?
Reconciliation and peace should characterize the people of God (Rom 12:18). I try to handle conflict with lots of prayer and attempts at humility! If I am in the wrong, I need to admit it and make things right. If someone else is wrong, I need to help facilitate the process of reconciliation.
We as a Church support the 1963 Baptist Faith Message. Does that create conflict for you to consider our Church?
Please read what I say here.
Why are you a Baptist? What beliefs and traditions of the Baptist Church do you consider the most important?
I did not grow up Baptist and I was not saved in a Baptist church. When I began to consider following my pastoral calling. I didn’t see how I could pursue employment with an organization whose stated beliefs differed from what I saw in Scripture, specifically regarding the issues of eternal security and abortion.
My beliefs on those issues, as well as the authority of the Bible, Believer’s Baptism, and cooperating ministry lined up with Baptists more than any other group, so I joined a Southern Baptist Church in 1984.
How involved is your family in your ministry?
Each of us gives of our time, talent, and treasures as God leads, just as any other church member should.
What is your preferred involvement in associational meetings/giving?
I served as the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the Parker Baptist Association for three years. Before that, I regularly attended the Association meetings and assisted in crafting its vision and mission statements. For five years, I served as the Parker County coordinator of the National Day of Prayer, working with church leaders of several denominations in the county. “Cooperation” is a key element of being a Baptist. Each church has its own specific ministries, but no church can do it all; we must pool our resources for Kingdom purposes. Depending on the needs of my church, I would like to continue using my gifts the minister to those outside my church fellowship.
What changes could this congregation expect if you became our pastor?
I don’t know your congregation. However, I can say that my only agenda would be to seek God’s Agenda to blend the church’s DNA with mine. A big part of my DNA is a strong commitment to the regular, practical application of the Bible to life. In the churches I have served, we have done more than merely pay lip service to a view of the Bible. We have read through it, studied it, and memorized parts … together … as a church.
I am all about being “real” (radical commitment to God, evangelistic heart, authentic discipleship, and love) and unpretentious. I am big on grace and forgiveness because I have received a lot of it!
How can the congregation support your ministry?
Mostly through praying for my family and myself: that we would be sensitive and obedient to God’s leading in every area of our lives.