Anson R. Nash Jr: Called to minister through public schools

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For the last five years, Anson R. Nash Jr. Has served as the executive director of the Corpus Christi Baptist Association in Corpus Christi, Texas. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on church and ministry. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated leader to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.

Background

Where else have you worked, and what were your positions?

I have served as small group pastor at Padre Island Baptist Church since 2000. Prior to that, I served Lexington Baptist Church as education director. I was youth and music at North Beach Baptist Church (all in Corpus Christi). I served as music and youth director, at FBC Ingleside, FBC George West and FBC Gregory. My first church staff position was minister of maintenance at FBC Eagle Lake. All of these were part-time positions. In my prior life, I was an elementary school teacher and principal for 34 years in Corpus Christi ISD.

Where did you grow up?

Eagle Lake, Texas

How did you come to faith in Christ?

I grew up in a Christian home. My mother was church secretary and organist at FBC Eagle Lake. We were having a revival when I was seven. My younger sister was six. She announced at dinner that she was going forward to get baptized. I said, “Me too.”

I believe that was a genuine experience; however, as a junior and BSU president at the University of Corpus Christi, I didn’t feel my life was what God intended for a Christian to exemplify, so I went into the prayer chapel late one night, got on my knees, and told the Lord, “If I didn’t know what I was doing at seven, I’m ready to get it right, and I’m not leaving this room until I know that I know.” I left that night with a peace that has blocked any doubts the devil throws my way since that night.

Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?

I received my Associate of Arts from Wharton County Junior College in religious education and music. I received my Bachelor of Arts from the University of Corpus Christi in elementary education and social studies. My Master of Science degree from Texas A&I College was in elementary administration and government.

Ministry/Profession

Why do you feel called to your particular vocation?

It’s been a journey that started as a junior in Sunday School. Every week, I would sit on a front pew, next to my mother’s organ, praying, “God, please call me into vocational ministry.” I matriculated to junior college with that same prayer, which led to my choice of a degree in religious education and music.

However, on registration day of my junior year at UCC, God clearly spoke to me and said, “I want you in ministry, but not the way you think. I want you to minister through the public schools.” And God provided positions in churches where I could use my religious education and music skills while ministering in the schools.

He richly blessed and protected me for 34 years of service. At 57, I clearly heard God again: “You have been faithful in service. I’m letting you go.” I submitted my resignation. Within six months, my pastor at Lexington called me and offered me the position of education director. I believe that all those years God was preparing me for the office I hold today.

Please tell us about your association—where it’s located, the key focus of its work and ministry, etc.

CCBA serves Nueces, San Patricio and Aransas counties. We office in Corpus Christi, where most of our 69 churches are located. I resource a diversity of churches: 47 BGCT, 12 SBTC, six dually aligned and four with no alignment. We have 39 predominately Anglo congregations, 20 Hispanic, eight African-American, one Korean and one Chinese congregation.

My goal coming into this office was to build bridges between conventions, denominations, racial/ethnic groups and all socioeconomic levels. I believe I’ve seen a great deal of progress in those areas.

What do you like best about leading your association? Why?

I enjoy great relationships with most of my pastors and lay leaders. My wife and I enjoy going to a different church to worship each Sunday. Having spent my life anchored to one church at a time, it is like sitting in the crow’s nest observing multiple worship and preaching styles. I enjoy the opportunity to preach in many churches every year.

What aspect(s) of associational ministry and/or its mission do you wish more people understood?

The association is about kingdom-building. Too many churches are into their own kingdom-building at the neglect of a lost and dying world. This note is the gospel of Anson, but I believe the church should model tithing by giving at least 10% of undesignated receipts to missions and ministries outside its own walls.

How has your association and its mission changed since you began your career?

We were in transition when I came on board. I helped orchestrate the conversion from the traditional model of governance to the NAMB model. We are currently looking at a move away from our strategic plan to something more in line with Will Mancini’s visioning as expressed in “Church Unique” and “God Dreams.”

How do you expect your association and/or its mission to change in the next 10 to 20 years?

We must learn how to operate with more efficiency. As the boomers and silent generation pass from the scene, we will be struggling to raise funds for the ministries and programs we now provide. We will move from providing services without charge to churches to fee-based services. We will be looking at less expensive housing for our offices and maybe even doing away with the associational office as we know it today. It will be mandatory to prove our value in order to justify our existence. Relevance, relevance, relevance!

Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your association.

Funding, developing close relationships with church lay leaders and inculcating a desire to focus our congregations on what’s happening outside the four walls of their buildings.

What one aspect of your job gives you the greatest joy or fulfillment?

When people express an appreciation for what the association is doing for the churches.

About Baptists

What are the key issues—opportunities and/or challenges—facing Baptist churches?

Focusing on delivery of the gospel more than nickels, noses and programs.

What are the key issues facing Baptists as a people or denomination?

Our recent history of infighting has set us years behind in our real cause, that of following the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?

Disunity

About Anson

Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?

The Billy Graham Evangelism team. As a child, I attended stadium events put on by the BGEA. It was a thrill to watch and listen as they presented the gospel in word, song and deed.

Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.

Two books that I purchased with high school graduation money: “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon and “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They influenced me in the same way, though the level of writing was much different. The emphasis of both books is that Christ has very high expectations of people who claim to be his followers.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?

Isaiah 43:2–3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” I was in a prayer meeting this morning and a bulletin board caught my eye: “Don’t worry about drowning in life. Your lifeguard walks on water.” I guess that puts the passage in perspective.

Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?

Daniel. He was a man of great strength and character. He had no fear in standing up for what was right, but he shared the truth in love.

Name something about you that would surprise people who know you well.

When I married 54 years ago, my wife was a senior in high school and I was a senior in college. We eloped to Nueva Laredo to tie the knot. I don’t recommend it, but God has blessed our marriage beyond measure.

If you could get one “do over” in your career, what would it be, and why?

I would not have changed churches so often. I was too focused on upward mobility.

Write and answer a question you wish we had asked.

How does your wife fit into your ministry?

Linda has been my best friend for 55 years, but she did not surrender to the ministry. She was always behind me, supporting me at home, but it was only after I became the Executive Director of the Corpus Christi Baptist Association that she moved beside me in my ministry. My churches have come to see us a team. She had a wrestling match with God five years ago. She didn’t break a hip, but she did totally surrender to the gospel ministry beside me.

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