For 11 years, Ernie McCoulskey has served as the director of missions for the Kauf-Van Baptist Association in Terrell, 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.
Where else have you worked, and what were your positions?
I pastored Baptist churches in Texas for 25 years. The last 17 years were at First Baptist Church Terrell.
Where did you grow up?
We moved a lot growing up, but I graduated from high school at Cedar Hill, Texas.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was influenced greatly by my parents and the Kinney Avenue Baptist Church in Austin, where my family lived when I was young.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I have a B.A. in religion and philosophy from Dallas Baptist University (College at the time) and an M.Div. from Southwestern.
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Why do you feel called to your particular vocation?
I do feel called to this task. It was a challenging realization because I had not considered it previously. I had some local pastors challenge me to pray about the possibility and the Lord led from there.
Please tell us about your association—where it’s located, the key focus of its work and ministry, etc.
Kauf-Van Baptist Association primarily serves the churches of Kaufman and Van Zandt counties. We do have a couple of churches in Rockwall county and Henderson county as well. The western edge is made up of rapidly growing suburban communities and the eastern side is more stable and rural.
What do you like best about leading your association? Why?
I love investing time into the lives of senior pastors. It is a hard time to pastor, and most guys need a safe support network. We strive to provide that.
How has your association and its mission changed since you began your career?
We have become much more responsive to individual church needs. We still do a few big events, but it is much more about building relationships that encourage churches and their leaders than it used to be.
What one aspect of your job gives you the greatest joy or fulfillment?
Working directly with pastors.
What are the key issues—opportunities and/or challenges—facing Baptist churches?
With all the changes in our society today, we can’t allow ourselves to be lured into thinking of the church as an entity that needs to be maintained. It is a militant force that must be unleashed!
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
As a young pastor, there were some guys in the Dallas Baptist Association that were seen as “successful” pastors that would love on us young guys. Men like Gene Colton, Henry Kinkeade and Don Childress were such an encouragement when I was just trying to find my way in the pastorate.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
I have appreciated the writings of Jeff Iorg on leadership issues and Paul Tripp on the challenges of serving in ministry and dealing with discouragement.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 2:7). As I was wrestling with the call to associational work, God used this verse to calm me as I looked at how many things would change if I did make the move.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
It may seem strange, but I love the account of Ananias of Damascus in Acts 9. We have no hint that he held any office or position, but he heard God call him to go to Saul of Tarsus, and, while it scared him, he went anyway. Faithful obedience is a quality I want to emulate.