Local magazines are usually below-average to say the very least. However, this past week I received the September edition of Around Woodstock magazine in my mailbox. The edition contained the normal items—recipes, stories of senior adult line dancing and the local high school football schedule.
However, embedded in this month’s edition was an interview by Ann Litrel with our hometown pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s Dr. Johnny Hunt. This interview was a goldmine for anyone interested in leadership or what it takes to pastor a great church.
The following are 14 Practices of Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches we learn from Dr. Johnny Hunt’s interview with Around Woodstock magazine:
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Make Students a Ministry Priority – NewSpring Church senior pastor Perry Noble recently said, “If you get too far removed from student ministry your church will become irrelevant before you know it.” While the interview was taking place, Ann noted Pastor Johnny was signing stacks of his books to give away as gifts to the church’s youth.
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Focus on Little Things – No matter how big your church may get, details and doing small things with excellence yields big results. Pastor Johnny said, “I didn’t set out have a big church. I never did anything big. It was the little things.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Genuinely Care About the People in Their Church – Pastors of great churches have a shepherd’s heart. Pastor Johnny continued, “I get a hospital list every morning, so those folk are uppermost in my mind when I walk through the halls on Sunday. Maybe I know your mom is in the hospital and I pass you in the hall on my way to give the sermon. I’ll stop and ask how your mother is, and we’ll pray together right there on the spot.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Know the Value of Their Non-Pulpit Ministry – NewSpring worship leader Lee McDerment said, “The songs might be done well but the most important thing may be a conversation I have in the lobby that Sunday.” Pastor Johnny would concur. He said, “I’m preaching to 5,000 people that morning, but praying with you might be the most important thing I do all day. I like to say, ‘I may do more ministry on the way to the pulpit than I do in the pulpit.’”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Serve Their Churches – Pastors of great churches serve others rather than serving themselves. Pastor Johnny noted, “You can’t lead people unless they know you’re serving them.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Serve Their Communities – In addition to serving their churches, pastors of great congregations also serve the communities in which they reside. Pastor Johnny went on, “You’re mobilizing the people to reach their potential. I’m a commander of a large army, and I need to lead them to conquer. But conquering is, let’s feed this community, let’s clothe this community.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Invest in Other Pastors – During the interview, Pastor Johnny noted he mentors pastors from all over the country through both his Timothy Barnabas ministry and The Johnny Hunt Men’s Conference. He also invests in pastors globally in such countries as Cuba, Istanbul and Iraq.
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Place Their Church’s Needs Over Their National Platforms – Pastor Johnny said regarding his global responsibilities, “I will preach here (at FBC Woodstock) 45 out of 52 Sundays a year. I don’t fly out until after I preach on Sunday.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Speak to the Needs of Their People – There is nothing worse than a leader who answers questions no one is asking. Speaking to people’s felt needs provides you opportunities to speak to their spiritual needs. Pastor Johnny says, “It’s not hard. You just listen. People will tell you what they need.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Proactively Solve Problems – Pastors of great churches have a bias towards action and solutions. Pastor Johnny acknowledged, “I’m very burdened and concerned with foster care. So I made it my business to get to know the folks at the DFACS office in Canton (GA) and find out what they need. We sent in bookkeepers and CPAs, got them a whole new bookkeeping and filing system.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Bring Hope to People – Pastor Johnny continues about the church’s role at DFACS, “The meeting rooms for foster parents were so depressing, they’d discourage anyone from fostering a child. So we knocked out some walls, opened them up with light and windows—just made it a nice place to be.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Do Things With Excellence – Still more from DFACS. Pastor Johnny went on, “The waiting rooms were very noisy. Families who come have a lot of kids. DFACS said, ‘We need a playground for these kids,’ and it’s MAGNANIMOUS what we built them.”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Reach Their God-Given Potential and Help Their Church Reach Their’s – Pastors of great churches do not live average lives. Pastor Johnny concluded, “I want to reach my own God-given potential. Charles Spurgeon, a preacher in the 1850s said, ‘The average human has misjudged their capacity for God.’”
- Senior Pastors Who Grow Great Churches Are Inspirational – The people in our churches are dying for inspiration. As Ann left her interview with Pastor Johnny, she noted, “As I leave Pastor Johnny’s office, I feel inspired. I can’t help but notice I’ve joined the many who have received a personal gift from this man—a vision of service.”
Pastors and church leaders, what did you learn from Pastor Johnny which will make you a better Christian leader?