Howard Anderson: ‘Building people to do great work’

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Howard Anderson has been pastor of the “Exciting” Singing Hills Baptist Church in Dallas since he organized the congregation with 24 members in 1984—33 years ago. 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 minister to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.

Background

Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?

I served at the Greater Emmanuel Baptist Church in Dallas as a member of the outreach and men’s ministry. I also served with the Bill Glass Prison Fellowship, which allowed me to travel and minister at correctional facilities as a counselor throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Jewett, Texas. I graduated from George Washington Carver High School in 1964.

How did you come to faith in Christ?

By following my grandfather around, watching him as he served as a deacon at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Jewett. By listening to my Sunday school and Baptist Young People’s Union teachers and hearing the pastor preach the gospel.

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

I received my bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies at Criswell College. I received a master of arts degree in pastoral theology at Criswell College. I received a doctor of ministry degree from Bethany Divinity College and Seminary in Dothan, Ala.

Ministry/church

Why do you feel called into ministry?

It is a strong inner sense of knowing that God has called me to do what I do. I believe it’s inexplicable but spiritually directed.

 What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?

Preaching and teaching the word of God to the people of God and seeing people mature in their faith.

What one aspect of congregational life gives you the greatest joy?

Preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ on a consistent basis and ministering to people on a personal level.

How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?

It has changed from the idea of building a great work to building people to do great work.

If you could launch any new ministry—individually, through your congregation or through another organization—what would it be? Why?

I would launch a ministry to mentor young pastors and preachers. I believe in the 33 years I’ve pastored the “Exciting” Singing Hills Baptist Church, God has taught me some things that would be helpful to young pastors and preachers

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

First, to consistently reach people for Jesus Christ. Second, to disciple those we have reached for Christ. And last, to train potential ministry leaders to fill ministry positions of those who are retiring.

What do you wish more laypeople knew about ministry or, specifically, your ministry?

The sacrifices that most pastors, staff and ministry leaders make for the ministries of the local church.

About Baptists

What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?

The pressure to conform to the non-biblical “truths” of a secular society in order to remain relevant in a world that needs Jesus so desperately.

About Howard

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

Deacon Purnell Anderson, my grandfather: I was heavily influenced by his godly Christian example, his commitment to Christ, his commitment to his family and his commitment to his church, Mount Olive Baptist Church in Jewett.

Rev. Burley Hudson: He is the longtime pastor of Greater Emmanuel Baptist Church in Dallas. He is one of the most humble pastors I have known. His love for pastoring and preaching impressed me. I started preaching and was licensed and ordained under his ministry leadership.

Dr. Jim Culp: Dr. Culp served as director of black church relations with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He demonstrated godly character and leadership. He knew the value of churches of all ethnicities working together for the kingdom of God.

What did you learn on the job you wish you learned in seminary?

Someone has said people don’t care about what you know until they know that you care. I wish I had learned the importance of the correlation between knowledge of the Bible and care for the people. The knowledge of the Bible and care for the people go together like a hand and glove. This distinction allows you to pastor with a compassionate touch. It is at this point you become a true shepherd of the flock that God has allowed you to lead.

What is the impact of ministry on your family?

My wife, Shirley, and I have been married 50 years, and her life has been impacted greatly through ministry. My son is a medical doctor and minister. He and his wife have three children. All have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. My entire family has been impacted by ministry.

Name some of your favorite books (other than the Bible) or authors, and explain why.

My favorite books are those I have written—except for the Bible.

My first book, titled Growth Principles for an “Exciting” Church, provides principles that are invaluable for church planting, especially in the African–American community. It also discusses the mental discernment every church needs to be alive and vibrant.

My second book, Life Navigation: Biblical Guidance for Daily Living, expounds the normal, cooperative and continual aspects of spiritual growth and how God’s word guides us through our journey.

My third book, The Power of Your Faith, demonstrates how God gives us a resource that allows us to find victory in every circumstance we encounter. That resource is the power of your faith in God.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?

My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” It is a Scripture that allows me to stay focused on the ministry for which God has called me. Just knowing that whatever is good for me, God will not withhold it from me. This enables me to work in my ministry field without being jealous of others in ministry.

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

Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a great leader. He knew how to stay in touch with God through prayer and how to communicate with his people. He was an involved leader. He understood that planning was necessary for successful work. He was very clear on the fact that prayer proceeded planning but did not prohibit planning. Nehemiah’s leadership reveals what happens when people work together toward a common goal.

Name something about you that would surprise your church.

During my days at Criswell College, I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ on the street in downtown Dallas on Ervay Street by Neiman-Marcus and the old H.L. Green store.

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

I would work more on balancing the spiritual and social aspects of ministry based upon Luke 4:18-19, “‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” Jesus’ ministry focused on both the spiritual and the social needs of people.

What life experience has impacted your ministry the most?

The military had a definite impact on my ministry. I am an Air Force Vietnam veteran, who served from 1965 to 1969. My experiences in the military taught me the importance of discipline. The relational and leadership skills I learned in the military are indispensable to my ministry.

To read other “Deep in the Hearts of Texans” profiles, click here.

 


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