When Northview Baptist Church in Lewisville called Ken Wells as pastor 40 years ago, he told church leaders, “This will be the first and last church I go to.”
Wells was true to his word. On Feb. 14, he marked 40 years in ministry—all spent at Northview Baptist Church.
In 1980, Wells was working as an assistant manager at a local grocery store when he began occasionally preaching at Northview and other local churches. He graduated from Arlington Baptist College the year before and was newly married to his wife Teresa.
When Northview’s pastor at the time accepted the call to another church, lay leaders at Northview immediately asked Wells to take on the role of senior pastor.
Wells initially refused, saying he was unqualified to lead a church at such a young age and with such little experience. Still, the church persisted, until on Feb. 14, 1981, Wells accepted the position.
On Wells’ first Sunday, 22 worshippers attended. As the only staff member at the church, he swept the floors and mowed the grass in addition to preaching and leading the congregation. In the intervening four decades, Northview has grown to about 600 in attendance each Sunday, with a staff of 12 devoted to caring for the church—both the property and the people.
Committed to missions and evangelism
Wells attributes the success of Northview and his ministry to three things—an emphasis on missions and evangelism, loving the people and faithfully trusting God through it all.
Early in his ministry at Northview, Wells emphasized missions. The church began giving to Denton Baptist Association and other missions causes. God blessed that decision, he said. For 13 Sundays in a row, someone made a profession of faith in Christ, was baptized or joined the church—something Wells said Northview had never seen before.
“I attribute it to the fact that we decided to get our hearts behind missions and do missional giving, and God honored that. So, we started seeing people being saved and baptized,” Wells explained.
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Missions has continued to be a central focus of the church. Today, Northview is active not only in funding missions and missionaries worldwide, but also actively participating in mission projects and trips on a regular basis.
Local evangelism also has played a large part in Wells’ ministry at Northview. The 13 weeks were just the beginning of the hundreds of baptisms and additions that have taken place during Wells’ tenure as pastor. In order to reach their local community, Wells seeks to equip all of his congregants with the tools they need to share the gospel.
“I believe the New Testament church practiced every-member ministry. I also believe the Bible teaches us that every Christian is gifted by God to help the church fulfill its mission,” Wells said. “Therefore, I seek to train, encourage and enable church members to use their gifts and talents in serving the Lord through the ministries and programs of the church.”
Love and care for people
Since his first day as pastor, Wells has loved the people of Northview. He sees that love and care as the difference between being a preacher and a pastor. While preachers deliver a sermon each Sunday, pastors care deeply about the people hearing his words, his members and ministry colleagues noted.
“Ken knows most of the nearly 800 church members by name and can tell many of their life stories. He is always available when someone needs something and would drop anything to assist in any way he could,” said Andrew Malone, associate pastor of students at Northview.
His love and care extends beyond the walls of the church and spills over into the community, where Wells has served as the chaplain for the Lewisville Fire Department and Police Department. He has been a chaplain as long as he has been a pastor, and he provides spiritual support to officers, victims and families in need.
“My passion is simply loving on people. In spite of problems and sin, loving them and accepting them and correcting them if need be. That’s been a big thing for me—just loving on folks,” Wells said.
Morgan Malone, executive director of Denton Baptist Association, explained Wells’ love and care for those around him have given him a reputation as someone people can turn to when they are struggling.
Above all, Wells attributes his 40 years of ministry at Northview to remaining faithful to Christ. His life-verse, 1 Timothy 1:12, says “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
He offered encouragement for other pastors, reminding them God would not have called them to their positions if he believed they would grow weary and give up.
“Because the Lord saw that I was faithful, he allowed me to be in ministry,” Wells said.
That promise has sustained Wells through tough times during his ministry.
“The keyword for me in that verse is ‘faithful.’ God knew I would be faithful and wouldn’t want to quit one day and do something different. I’m just going to be faithful. Faithful to love the people, faithful to preach the word” of God, he said.
That faithfulness has been a testimony to those around him, and especially to those who have served on Northview’s staff. Three former staff members have become pastors at other churches. Others have stayed on Northview’s staff for decades alongside Wells, inspired to serve as he has.
“Ken is steady, faithful, level-headed and loving—which are several great characteristics for a pastor. But if you add to that calm, forgiving, long-suffering, sacrificial and compassionate, then you really get to begin describing Ken,” Rob Veal, executive pastor at Northview said.
“I have served with him now for well over 25 years, which means I know him pretty well. And knowing him that well is why I have served with him all of these years.”
For now, Wells has no plans to retire. Until God tells him otherwise, Wells will continue serving at Northview, teaching missions and evangelism, loving his people and practicing faithfulness above all else.
“If God told me to go somewhere, I would. But until he does, I’m going to stay right here and do what I’m supposed to do,” Wells said. “I’ll go until God says it’s time to quit.”