Witcher to focus on youth as MBC’s newly hired evangelism specialist
JEFFERSON CITY – Lyle Witcher loves to tell stories.
“I’m fascinated by peoples’ stories,” he said. “My dad was a great story teller and I love how people like Chuck Swindoll and Henry Blackaby tell their stories. I like good theological, biblical meat, but wrapped in a story.”
Witcher, 38, is the newly hired youth evangelism specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), but don’t let the fancy title fool you.
“I just want to share the Gospel,” he said. “I couldn’t care less about a title.”
Regardless of title, his love of stories is evident within the first minute of meeting the man. Ask him where he’s from and you get a four-minute biography of the world’s tallest man (after Goliath, Witcher is quick to add) along the way to his ultimate answer. He may seem to be rambling but his words have a purpose and goal and he says he hopes his stories will help communicate Christ’s love to the 600,000 youth of Missouri.
“A lot of my style in how I share and relate to students is just listening to their stories and telling mine. My testimony is a story.”
Witcher was born and raised in Alton, Ill. which, by the way, is the birthplace of Robert Wadlow, pictured in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the world’s tallest man at 8-foot-11. He grew up in the church and went to college to be an architect, before feeling God’s call to work with young people. He went back to Missouri Baptist College to study religion and began serving as a youth minister at Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis.
Witcher joined the MBC Nov. 13. His wife Angela, 5-year old daughter Abigail and 2-year old son Aaron will join him later this month. Before coming to Jefferson City, Witcher served as the associate pastor for student ministry at First Baptist Church in Columbia, Ill., where he tried to particularly emphasize evangelism and missions to the youth. He brings that passion for youth ministry to the convention.
“I just love students,” he said. “I love their optimism, I love their quirkiness. I don’t love it when the junior high boys get all hopped on caffeine at a lock in, but I do love hanging out with them and learning what makes them tick.”
He also has a passion for the leaders of those students.
“Second, I love youth pastors,” he said. “I want to create with them, outline strategies with them, and equip them so they can do their ministry better. Those two loves lead ultimately to a love of seeing the students of Missouri coming to Christ. We’ve got a task ahead of us, and it’s not going to take just me, it’s going to take all of us. I’m just excited there’s a convention like the MBC that has a vision and dream for students coming to know Jesus Christ.”
Witcher will work alongside Matt Kearns, MBC student ministry director, to develop a statewide strategy to reach and disciple students. He will be responsible for training, equipping and getting resources to youth workers across the state.
“I think Matt and I complement each other,” he said. “Matt puts the vision and dream out there in black and white with a biblical basis, and then I come along and contextualize it and paint in the color. We think on the same page.”
Witcher also will bring to the table new skills such as creating Web development, podcasts, online video conferencing and other techniques to reach the “Google” generation. He will also be instrumental in Super Summer, the annual week-long evangelism thrusts at Hannibal-LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University.
Although he said he is willing and ready to try new things, programs and resources to reach Missouri, he said such things have limits.
“The one thing you can’t replace is the Bible. It’s our model, it’s our everything. There’s no student ministry resource out there that can replace it.”