Howie Batson has been pastor of First Baptist Church in Amarillo the past 21 years. He is the eighth pastor featured in the Baptist Standard’s “Deep in the Hearts of Texans.” To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated minister to be featured in this column or to apply to be featured, click here.
• Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Waco, pastor
Methodist Medical Center in Dallas, chaplain
Garner Baptist Church in Garner, youth minister
• Where did you grow up?
• How did you come to faith in Christ?
Public profession as an elementary school child. Through family, friends and a great church.
• Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
Bachelor of science in business administration, Lander University, Greenwood, S.C.
Master of divinity, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth
Doctor of philosophy in biblical studies, Baylor University, Waco
• Why do you feel called to ministry?
My call came from God, but through the church. Even as a teenager, my home church in South Carolina began to recognize and develop ministry gifts within me.
• What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
Providing pastoral care for folks who are hurting, because I feel like I’ve made a difference in bringing the hope of the gospel in dire situations. I make heart connections quickly.
• What one aspect of congregational life gives you the greatest joy?
First Baptist Church of Amarillo is a very eclectic gathering of people. The only thing we have in common is that we all call Jesus “Lord.” Each Sunday, we preach the gospel in five languages to folks from about 15 cultures. The gospel has the power to break down the barriers that are a struggle for the common culture. In the “Christ culture,” the church sees each one as a fellow follower of Jesus.
Seeing all of God’s children worship together brings me joy.
• How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?
When you’re young, you have all the answers. As I mature in ministry, I realize I’m still trying to find the right questions.
When I came to First Baptist Church of Amarillo at age 32, I had ministry organized into very neat categories. As I age, I realize most situations “break the boxes.” Therefore, growing in leadership includes growing in humility.
• What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?
Baptists are facing a growing presence of Calvinism within our congregations. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to thoughtful, Reformed theology. Once a congregation calls a strong Calvinist to pastor, local churches seem to lose much of their missions and ministry emphasis, the attributes that once made them welcoming places.
Secondly, all denominations are facing a growing trend toward decentralization. The average churchgoer knows very little about the values and traditions of his or her heritage of faith. Baptists are no exception.
• What is the impact of ministry on your family?
I am married and have three daughters. Because First Baptist Church of Amarillo is a very loving place, my girls love church. Recently, my middle daughter married, and the wedding was an event for the whole congregation. The church has loved her since she was 2 years of age, and she sees them as her family.
• What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Joshua 1:9. It reminds me that God is ever-present.
• Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
David. David is chosen by God, blessed by God, but remains very human. David has a good heart, but imperfect actions. I think we all can relate to the joy that makes him dance and the grief that makes him cry: “Absalom! Absalom!”
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