Small Church Pastor of Year testifies to God’s power
By Allen Palmeri
November 23, 2004
SPRINGFIELD – G. Boone Middleton knows all about the ups and downs of being a bi-vocational pastor.
Born in Kansas City and raised in Adrian, Middleton has been a bi-vocational pastor in five different Missouri churches since 1975. Since last July, he has been full-time at Golden Avenue Baptist Church, Springfield — which made him feel a little funny as he accepted the Small Church Pastor of the Year award at the Bi-vocational Ministers’ Banquet Oct. 25 in Kansas City. Even so, Middleton, 57, can easily speak to the rigors of bi-vocational life.
“The power of God is what sustains,” Middleton said, recalling his days as a social studies teacher and coach. “I had about a 25-30 minute drive to school, and I’d listen to Chuck Swindoll absolutely every morning. The man is a wonderful Bible teacher. I got lots of good illustrations. Five times a week, that would really bless my life.
“The key is to persevere and just stay at it. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. God is faithful. I love the Scripture in Lamentations 3 where it says that the Lord’s mercies never fail, they’re new every morning, His compassions are always there, and great is Thy faithfulness.”
Middleton is going on his 13th year as Golden Avenue’s pastor. The inner-city church is involved in a release-time partnership with neighboring Westport Elementary School. Every other week, up to 18 fifth graders walk about a block to the church for Bible education.
“We do memory verses, Bible stories, skits, things like that, and we’ve had good success with it,” Middleton said. “There were 11 boys and girls who made professions of faith last year.”
Golden Avenue averages about 100 in worship and 75 in Sunday School. Middleton said he considers his Pastor of the Year honor as a credit to the church.
“I was just taken aback,” he said. “I was kind of at a low point in ministry. It was kind of an encouragement. I just felt like it was something that the Lord used to help reinforce the importance of what was going on in the church.”
Golden Avenue has grown numerically under Middleton’s leadership, consistently baptizing a large number of people in relation to the church’s size. Middleton has also led the church into missions work, having gone twice himself on mission trips to India. He also leads a Bible study on Wednesdays at the Greene County Baptist Association’s Mission Center for people who are waiting to receive food and clothing.
The church recently got out of debt and has steered about $40,000 toward the funding of a Christian Life Center that will wind up costing around $300,000. Second Baptist Church, Springfield, has been a steady partner in helping Golden Avenue achieve its various outreach dreams.
“They’ve helped us with resources and bodies,” Middleton said.
He and his wife, Karen, have been married 35 years. They have three grown children.
“I love ministry and I love people,” Middleton said. “Those two things have caused me to just really enjoy being a pastor.”