Since 2013, Morgan Malone has served as the executive director of the Denton Baptist Association, which primarily serves Denton County, located immediately north of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. 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 have pastored churches in Bonham, Texas; Melissa, Texas; and Monkey Island, Okla.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Denison, Texas.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
When I was nine years old, while attending First Baptist Church of Denison, Texas, we had an evangelist who spoke to the children at our church. He shared with us that we were sinners and in need of a savior. He stated from God’s Word that if we did not accept Christ we were headed to hell. His message helped me to realize that I was a sinner and that I needed to be forgiven for my sins. At the conclusion of his message, I trusted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
When I finished Denison High School, I enrolled at Grayson County College in Denison, Texas, where I became very involved with the Baptist Student Ministry.
After completing two years of study at GCC, I enrolled at East Texas Baptist College. While there, I majored in ministry careers with a concentration in counseling.
After completing my bachelor’s degree in 1984, I enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I completed my Master of Divinity degree in December of 1987.
Why do you feel called to your particular vocation?
When I interviewed for this position in 2013, there were three things that stood out to me.
First, I had pastored churches for twenty-five years, so I felt I had a handle on what it was like to serve in a local church as a pastor.
Secondly, I had begun training to be a coach through the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Little did I know that as I was completing the training, Denton Baptist Association would be in search of a leader who had coach training and experience in that area.
I had also been serving as a member of the Mission Fund Group for the BGCT. This prepared me to work with church planters and their unique situations.
Please tell us about your association—where it’s located, the key focus of its work and ministry, etc.
Our association is located due north of Fort Worth. It is a growing area. Studies tell us that our county will be one of nine counties in the state of Texas with over one million people by the year 2030. In preparing for this growth, we must do three things.
First, we must strengthen our existing churches. We do this by providing individual consultations based on each church’s needs. We also provide seminars that equip pastors and their leaders to better serve their respective churches.
Secondly, there are at least 400,000 people who are not engaged in a church. We need to start more churches to reach them for Christ. The most recent demographic data shows that those who are moving here are not just from other parts of the US. They are from other countries. Due to this influx of people, we must start not only English-speaking churches but also different ethnic churches where our new neighbor’s heart language is spoken.
Third, we work with our Cooperative Ministries. We have five ministries that our association directly supports. Two of those ministries are focused on over 60,000 college students who attend the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. Our association partners with the BGCT to reach these students through the Baptist Student Ministries located on each campus.
Our third ministry is Denton Baptist Associational Disaster relief. We have a packing box unit, a shower unit, a chainsaw unit and a recharging station. These units are dispatched throughout the US to various disasters that occur.
Our fourth ministry reaches out to race fans that come to the Texas Motor Speedway. Raceway ministries focus their attention on the 90,000 fans who come to three different races. The goal of this ministry is to reach out and care for the race fan with the love of Christ.
Our fifth ministry is Camp Copass. Each year, this camp hosts children and youth summer camps as well as retreats. This past year, over 30,000 people came through their gates.
What do you like best about leading your association? Why?
The thing I enjoy the most about leading our association is the opportunity I have to interact with the local church. I get energized through conversations I have with pastors and staff. I get to know them, their church, their joys, their struggles and their victories. I love getting to help them work through a challenging problem to figure out what God’s next step is for them.
How do you expect your association and/or its mission to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
Due to our county’s continued growth, we must focus more on reaching other ethnic groups. For example, in our county, we currently have only six Hispanic-member churches to reach the 160,000. Future demographics tell us that the group that will grow the most will be the Hispanic population. Our Hispanic Associate, David Crane, will help us provide training for future Hispanic leaders that will be used to start churches to reach this exploding population.
What one aspect of your job gives you the greatest joy or fulfillment?
My greatest joy comes in sitting down with someone who is in need of help. I love helping them discover God’s inspired solution for their problem.
What are the key issues—opportunities and/or challenges—facing Baptist churches?
One key issue that our existing Baptist churches are going to need to focus on is the ever-increasing desire to please the congregation instead of God.
We as Baptists and Christians have a tendency to be inward-focused. If we are going to not just survive but thrive, we must focus our attention on God and our communities. We must seek out ways to serve the community. It is through serving that we will earn the right to speak into a community that is lost and dying. Our serving creates trust and credibility.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
Calvin C. Ussery was a mentor to me while I served on his staff at First Baptist Church, Fairview. When I came to serve at the church, I was a seminary student. Brother Calvin was in his later sixties. I was impressed that, while he had been pastoring for over 40 years, he did not quit learning. He was always reading and studying in an attempt to keep himself and his messages fresh. As I have gotten older, I have attempted to follow that same pattern.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
1 Corinthians 10:22b: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” This verse explains my strategy for reaching out to people. I must understand how each person thinks and lives so that I can know how to invest in them for the sake of the gospel.
Bonus: Write and answer a question you wish we had asked.
Name something you do to relieve stress?
Over the years of my work in ministry, I have learned that you rarely finish. There will always be one more visit that could be made. You can always do a little more on that upcoming message. There is always something more that could be done. Sometimes this sense of incompleteness has caused me undue stress.
I learned several years ago a way to relieve stress. Remodeling houses and working on woodworking projects have provided a great release. Right now, I am building a pergola. As I complete one portion of it, I find personal gratification in being able to see the project come to its conclusion — unlike some portions of ministry.
Why am I a Baptist?
I am a part of the Baptist denomination for at least two reasons.
First, I believe in the long-time Baptist belief of the priesthood of the believer. It encourages me to know that all of us have equal access to the Father through Christ.
Secondly, I believe in the Baptist strategy of the Cooperative Program. I do not know of any other missions organization where missionaries do not have to raise their own funds. What a joy it is to me to see our foreign missionaries spending the bulk of their time working in the field instead of being concerned with their financial status.