As a kid growing up, I never saw myself being a Children’s pastor. When I was a child, I did not have a Children’s pastor. In fact, Children’s ministry is a relatively new phenomenon within the church. I was your average church kid; attending services whenever the doors were open. Participating in Vacation Bible School and summer church camps. The churches of my youth were always small; so we didn’t have elaborate services or monthly events throughout the year. But we did have Sunday School and RA’s. I remember learning the importance of studying the Bible and prayer. I remember being baptized at Second Baptist Church in West Memphis. I remember the faithful men and women who instructed me during my youth, teaching and quizzing me on the Bible. Learning all the familiar stories repeatedly. Discovering that God loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins.
When I became a Children’s pastor in June of 2012, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was determined to do one thing: teach the Bible, the whole counsel of God, to children. I had very little experience teaching children, and I did not know how to communicate information to the various stages of adolescence. I remember going back to my notes from Adolescent Development, which was a class I took in college that I had absolutely no interest in. The church in Walnut Ridge was incredibly patient with me however, always encouraging and offering wisdom and advice when needed. When I look back on my time in Walnut Ridge, I am reminded of the verse in 1st Corinthians that says “God uses the weak to shame the strong.” For whatever reason God blessed my ministry and I was able to see firsthand the fruits of my labor.
When I came to Hampton, I felt like a Children’s Ministry professional. I had a few years of experience and had learned a lot in Walnut Ridge (mostly from trial and error!) My position at Hampton came with new responsibilities. I was the Associate Pastor and Minister to Children, which although I was never given an official job description, I was basically told that I would be assisting the Senior pastor with his pastoral responsibilities. I was blessed with the opportunity to preach more; whether that be at church, ministerial alliance events, the nutrition center or the local jail. I administered the Lord’s supper for the first time, and regularly visited church members in the hospital. These responsibilities increased when our church went 9 months without a pastor. In fact, the church decided to ordain me into the gospel ministry last September. All the while God continued to bless my ministry to children, even though I felt like I was being pulled into too many directions.
These past 6 months, I’ve been sensing that it’s time to move on from children’s ministry. Although I thoroughly love sharing the gospel with children, I feel like it’s time for me to continue my education as I prepare for pastoral ministry. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been taking a class here or there online through the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but I’ve been going at a snail’s pace due to the cost and lack of time. A couple weeks back one of the seminaries I’ve been researching offered a tremendous scholarship for their MDiv program, and after seeking the Lords wisdom and praying with family and friends, we have decided to accept their offer. Our last Sunday with our church family in Hampton in November 12th, and we will be loading up and moving the following week. Starting in January I will be a full-time student at Covenant Theological Seminary located just outside St. Louis.
Looking back on my time in Children’s ministry, it’s been clear that God has used these past five years to draw me closer to Himself, to humble me, to give me a clearer understanding of His Word, and to prepare me for the peaks and valleys of pastoral ministry. In many ways, I feel like God has taught me more than I have ever taught children these past five years. I thank God for all the people God has placed in my family’s life during our time in Children’s ministry; and I am indebted to the churches who have loved and supported us throughout the years.
Covenant Seminary is the official seminary of the Presbyterian Church of America. I know this will catch many of you by surprise. A few years back I was encouraged by a friend to study the scriptures for myself to determine what God’s word truly teaches. At that time in my life I was bouncing around the theological spectrum; listening to everyone and studying nothing.
That being said, I have fallen in love with the doctrines of grace and reformed theology. In recent months I’ve been studying the Westminster Confession of Faith; the confession used by conservative Presbyterian denominations. Although I am not Presbyterian, I do believe the Lord may be leading me in that direction. I plan on writing about the differences between reformed and baptistic theology in the future for anyone interested.
I am thankful for the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s the denomination that led me to faith in Jesus Christ. Its the denomination that ordained me into the gospel ministry. I believe that the denomination is healthy and is heading in the right direction.
Sometimes God calls us to do things that don’t make sense…but it will eventually. Right now I’m trusting in the promises of God. Please be in prayer for my family as we prepare to move.