“The calling of the pastor is more than a job, it’s a wonderful ministry.” Starting with that statement, Tom Townsend, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Battle Creek, Michigan, shared a presentation titled, “What I Have Learned after a Lifetime in Pastoral Ministry.” His reflections were the main feature of the quarterly meeting of the Southern Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches (SMARBC) on Thursday, September 3. The gathering of pastors was held in the facilities of Lansing Avenue Baptist Church in Jackson, Michigan.
Townsend has served in pastoral ministry for almost forty-six years and plans to “retire” from a full-time role as senior pastor in 2021. He shared with the group some lessons that he learned as a “PK” growing up in a pastor’s family, as well as those that he learned through serving in four associate and senior pastorates. Many of the most important discoveries came as Tom and his wife, Connie, raised their children to adulthood while balancing the demanding responsibilities of shepherding the flock of a local church. He observed, “Don’t discount in pastoral ministry the value of the relationships that you share together as a couple and family.”
During his session, Townsend reminded the gathered pastors, “Your wife needs a partner and your kids need a father.” He then encouraged other “pastor’s kids” to share the life lessons they learned by observing their fathers in pastoral ministry. Pastor Tim Rowland, First Baptist Church, Bronson, Michigan shared that watching God spiritually shape and use his father, Bill, was a major influence upon him in yielding to God’s call to ministry.
“Nothing can replace the value of watching God work in your dad’s life as a pastor.”
Townsend encouraged the pastors to get involved in a community service club because it forces you out of the office and into relationships and projects within the community. He served with the Rotary Club while pastoring in different cities. “I developed good relationships with many civic leaders and businesspeople. It allowed me to have opportunities for spiritual influence in the community.”
Tom challenged the pastors as he concluded the session, “Never move away from your calling. Remember that it’s the Word of God that God uses to accomplish the work. Invest in your leadership and help them to grow spiritually. And, more than anything, pray – pray – pray!”
Submitted by Ken Floyd, MARBC Ministry Director