Scott Sharman has been the senior pastor of Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson since it was planted in 1994. 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.
Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
I served for five years at Calvary Baptist Church in Burleson, the church through which Alsbury was planted. This is the only community in which I have served.
Where did you grow up?
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was led to Christ by my next-door neighbor in Albuquerque when I was 16.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
• Wayland Baptist University, Bachelor of Arts degree
• Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity degree
• Logsdon Seminary, Doctor of Ministry degree
What one class or seminar in your education impacted you most and why?
Systematic Theology with David Kirkpatrick at Southwestern Seminary because he challenged every preconception I brought with me.
Why do you feel called into ministry?
Shortly after salvation, I sensed a call to the ministry and enrolled at Wayland to prepare. While at Wayland, I began to work in radio and continued in that profession following graduation. Ten years later, while active at First Baptist Church in Odessa, I sensed a renewed call to ministry and moved to Fort Worth to attend seminary. I have been in pastoral ministry since.
What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
Equipping others for active ministry leadership. I am greatly encouraged when someone expresses the joy of seeing the Lord use him or her in meaningful ministry to hurting people.
What one aspect of ministry gives you the greatest joy?
We have a significant ministry to people who live with special needs. Many of our adults have been with our church since it was planted and serve the body with their gifts and abilities. This brings me great joy.
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What one aspect of ministry would you like to change?
We live in a time when people choose a church or remain with a church family because of “what they get out of it.” The consumerism that shapes so much of the modern American church has done great damage.
How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?
As our church has grown, my personal involvement in pastoral ministry has decreased. Time and needs simply prevent me from meeting with all people at their times of need. While this allows others to become involved in pastoral care, my personal engagement has decreased.
How do you expect ministry to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I expect the church will move more and more toward smaller, home-based small groups rather than the large corporate gatherings we see today. The church will grow smaller in order to accomplish far more personal ministry.
If you could launch any new ministry—individually, through your congregation or through another organization—what would it be? Why?
A church-planting ministry that focuses on small home groups. I believe this is essential to seeing true spiritual transformation within the community of believers.
Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your ministry.
2. The view that church involvement is simply one of many options for a family, and
3. The taking of offense by individuals within a church fellowship resulting in an unwillingness to forgive and broken relationships.
What do you wish more laypeople knew about ministry or, specifically, your ministry?
How much it hurts when people to whom you have sincerely tried to minister leave the fellowship over petty issues.
What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?
Nationalism, immigration, politicizing the pulpit, affirming women in service and ministry.
What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?
I want to see ministers function within a larger “tent,” or “circle,” so that equally sincere students of Scripture who arrive at different conclusions over interpretive issues are included in shared ministry and fellowship. We should err on the side of inclusion.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
• H. Bailey Stone, my pastor while at First Baptist Church in Odessa.
• Jerrell Elston, the pastor I followed at Calvary Baptist Church in Burleson. Jerrell helped me in so many ways as I learned how to serve a church family.
• Steve Garrett, a lifelong friend who held me accountable through many years of ministry. Steve died of ALS, and I miss him and our friendship deeply.
Frankie Rainey, who served at Crestmont Baptist Church in Burleson. I met with Frankie weekly for several years, and he mentored me in many areas of pastoral responsibility.
What did you learn on the job you wish you learned in seminary?
That many equally sincere people arrive at different conclusions regarding their interpretation of Scripture, and we can discuss those differences without demonizing the other party.
What is the impact of ministry on your family?
My family struggled through my first years in pastoral ministry. My career change was challenging for them. Over time, we worked through the issues, but those first few years were difficult.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
• John Stott’s various commentaries and The Cross of Christ because of the very practical insight he provides.
• N.T. Wright has challenged me to preach hope to the hopeless.
• Various works by Dietrich Bonhoeffer always challenge me over how committed I am to serve Christ fully within the messiness of the local church.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
1 Peter 2:9. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
This is a glorious declaration of who we are and the work we have been called to.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
Paul. He never lost sight of his own wretchedness and knew the grace of God was the only reason he was included in the kingdom, much less given the incredible task of being the witness to the Gentiles.
Name something about you that would surprise people who know you.
I am an introvert and am quite uncomfortable in crowds of people. I prefer to be alone than with others.
If you could get one “do over” in ministry, what would it be, and why?
I would have focused far more upon my family than upon my education and my pastoral responsibilities during the early years of ministry.