Brunson to MBTS students:Read all you can read, balance ministry with family
Ex MBC President Collins offers tips on maintaining longevity
May 2, 2006
KANSAS CITY – One of the highest profile pastors in America had a few words of wisdom to share with the next generation of church leaders at the Leadership Development Conference at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) here April 18.
Mac Brunson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., spoke to students and guests at MBTS, encouraging them to be effective church leaders.
Until this month, Brunson had been the pastor First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas. Before that, he served Greenstreet Baptist Church, High Point, N.C., and at several churches in South Carolina and Virginia. He was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in 2003 and was president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 1997-1999.
Brunson spoke at length about a topic sure to be an issue with most pastors though they may not want to admit it: dealing with difficult people in the congregation. He spoke largely from 1 Samuel and Psalms, recounting David’s struggles against Saul and his own children.
“There are some people who love nothing more than to see someone else under pressure, Brunson said. “If you minister to people, you will come across them.”
“In dealing with difficult people, what lies beneath always surfaces, and that’s true for you, too,” he added, before confessing to instances in his own ministry where he has failed. “Every single one of us can be difficult, too. Use the sense that God gave you to deal with people in a Christ-like way. Remember Romans 12:18, ‘as far as it depends on you, you be at peace with all men.’”
After the second of his two lectures, Brunson answered questions from the crowd. Two bits of advice that came out of those sessions: read all you can and how to balance an effective ministry with a family.
“We all deal with it,” he told one student. “It’s not going to go away.”
Break out sessions also led by pastors and MBTS professors reinforced practical lessons to a successful ministry.
For example, former Missouri Baptist Convention President Robert Collins, pastor, Plaza Heights Baptist Church in Blue Springs for 27 years, lectured on how to maintain longevity – and effectiveness – as a pastor in a denomination where the average pastor serves seven years at a church and less than three percent stay at one church for 20 years.
“Having a long pastorate does not guarantee consistent growth,” he said. “But I can tell you there is not consistent growth in a church that rotates pastors every four years. Research tells us that the ‘most productive’ year [for church growth] for most pastors is from the fifth or sixth year to the 12th. Above all, make a commitment to go and stay until God moves you,” he said. “Do not view any church as a stepping stone.”