She’s responded to Katrina and Rita and Ike, and she’s been to American Samoa to help kids process after a tsunami, having seen their family swept out to sea. She’s absolutely amazing. And listen, none of that is because I’m a pastor, Tracy was all-in on serving Jesus before she ever knew who I was. She was deeply engaged.
Obviously, she was the student director of freshman Sunday School when she was a sophomore for a reason, because she showed up ready to serve.
She sounds like she has a missionary calling with a stateside assignment. Is that fair?
That’s 100 percent correct. We prayed about whether we would go with the IMB way back when we were at Mill Creek in Oklahoma, and we thought about that seriously. That was something she always really wanted to do. But instead, God called her to this. She really does have that missionary calling with a stateside assignment.
What are some things the local church must get right?
Apart from the obvious things that everybody’s trying to do, we need to share the Gospel, bear consistent witness to that, lead people to Jesus, preach the Word. I believe God does something spiritual that does not subject itself to analysis through the act of preaching. But I think if I’m trying to find things that I think sometimes churches get wrong, that we’re particularly trying to do right at FBC Farmersville, one is this, I think we get into trouble sometimes when we worry overly much about what we have to do to protect the reputation of our church. My experience and my conviction is do the right thing every time, and let God protect the reputation of the church. Because I think, there are occasions where you are tempted to do otherwise.
I’m committed to congregational church governance. Honestly in the 1970s, if you weren’t in favor of congregational church governance, most of the churches that I knew about would deal with you in short order and say, “We vote and we get to make decisions and whatever. You can’t come in and tell us what to do.” But really, in this day and time, I think you have a lot of congregations who are like, “Can’t you just take care of that? We have to think about what the church is going to do?” I agree with Stan Norman. I think it’s part of discipleship. Church members ought to have to think about what the mission of the church is. Church members ought to have to be brought up to speed on things that need to be prayed through and seeking the Holy Spirit to move upon the whole congregation of disciples to understand what His will is and to pursue it with zeal. What I try to do at FBC Farmersville is to kind of entice congregants into congregationalism and woo them into leaning in and being a part of what we’re doing as a church.
How is your church making an evangelistic impact?
We win people to Christ every year. We baptize 14 to 17 people pretty consistently every year. I’d love to see that be more every year. We’ll add people to our church membership every year in our local area. We’re proclaiming the Gospel, and we’re winning people to Christ. We’re making disciples.
We’re engaged beyond that too. COVID-19 has been tough on things that we had going on beforehand, but in 2012, we embraced an unengaged, unreached people group in the Casamance region of Senegal. We were able to win people to Christ from our very first visit there. We’ve got a lot of people who’ve accepted Christ. It’s a war-torn area. There is an ongoing military conflict. It’s not like Ukraine. It’s not something that makes the news. But I’ve been walking between villages over there, sharing the Gospel while a forward observation helicopter came over and shells were landing five kilometers away.
Because it’s exceedingly poor, it’s an agricultural, subsistence-farming-based culture, a lot of the farmland has been taken away because landmines have been put in and the areas have become too hot militarily that people have to stay out of those areas. It’s very hard for people to make a living there so you lead people to Christ, and then you come back and they’ve left because they found somewhere they could get a job in Dakar or in Sagicor or in Skirring.
We’ve found it comparatively easy to lead people to Christ and comparatively difficult to actually form a church there. But we had a church formed there with pastors and members and weekly worship. Just step-by-step making our way there, discipleship processes in place. We were at the point before COVID-19 came when you’ve got that little bundle of tinder with a spark in it, and you’re just blowing to try to get the fire to go, and then we couldn’t go there anymore. We’ve prayed about that.