PIGEON FORGE — As bivocational ministry specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, Roger Britton understands the unique challenge of serving as a pastor and holding down a job.
Britton has been a bivocational minister nearly 45 years, including the last 27 as pastor of Whites Creek Baptist Church in Rockwood.
He fully understands the need to balance sermon preparation, hospital visits, funerals and weddings, time with spouse and children, personal time and time alone with God in addition to the responsibilities of a secular job.
Early in his tenure at Whites Creek, Britton learned about the value of the Bivocational Pastors and Wives Retreat, sponsored annually by the TBMB. He and his wife, Kathy, have only missed one conference in 27 years. He freely admits that he was ready to quit the pastorate before attending that first retreat.
After giving up one bivocational job three years ago to accept a new role with the TBMB, Britton is as passionate as ever about helping bivocational ministers and their wives.
To say he is overwhelmed by the fact that the retreat has set a new record for attendance in back to back years would be an understatement.
This year, 153 bivocational couples, including 32 attending their first retreat, were among the total of 330 registered people for the event held Jan. 25-27 at the Music Road Hotel and Conference Center in Pigeon Forge.
“I am in awe of how God allows us to be part of His plan. It is very apparent that God wants, needs and desires for bivocational pastors across Tennessee to take time to refuel,” Britton observed.
He noted that bivocational ministers constantly “pour out” to assist people who have many needs and who are hurting and struggling.
These ministers and their spouses need to know there are those who understand what they go through and that someone cares about them and their God-called ministry, Britton said.
“Having a time to get away and to be refreshed, encouraged, and to revive one’s personal walk with Christ is imperative,” he acknowledged. “This retreat gives an opportunity for God to fill the voids — and these are voids that are often overlooked by others — in a pastor’s life.”
Britton said the Bivocational Ministry Leadership Council meets after each year’s retreat to begin planning the next year’s theme. “If we had no theme, we would most likely drift all over various ideas, issues, and even solutions,” he said. “Having a theme keeps everyone focused and we are able to use God’s Word to give us what God wants us to receive and not what any one person might decide to speak to,” he noted.
As they discussed the theme for 2024, Britton said prayer was consistently mentioned. “This is absolutely one of the foremost important things we as Christians can do but, prayer alone is a broad word,” he reflected. After more prayer the BMLC chose the theme, “Pray NOW,” he said.
“It was obvious that God led every speaker to say what the group needed at the exact moment,” Britton said. “Those who participated were deeply touched.”
Danny Sinquefield, Harvest Field One team leader for the TBMB, opened the retreat which focused on “Praying Together.” He noted that Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Lord teach us to pray.”
One of the reasons the disciples asked Jesus how to pray was that something was missing in their prayer life, he noted. “One of the regrets when we get to heaven is probably going to be that we didn’t pray more and pray more effectively,” he said.
Sinquefield also observed that the disciples asked Jesus how to pray because there was something different about His prayer life. “The disciples never asked Jesus to teach them to do miracles, to heal the sick or to preach powerful messages. The only thing they ever asked was for Jesus to teach them to pray.”
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of TBMB, challenged pastors to enter their private prayer rooms, shut the door and approach God with a spirit of thanksgiving.
A biblical attitude of gratitude “will take you all the way to the throne of God and it will bring the throne of God into your deepest valley and into your hardest places,” he said. He also noted that an attitude of gratitude “is clothed with the character and countenance of Christ.
“It is fueled by the pleasing power of the Holy Spirit and the attitude of gratitude is constantly focusing on the faithfulness of the heavenly Father,” he said.
Roc Collins, director of strategic objectives for TBMB, closed the retreat on Saturday. Preaching from Acts 4, he noted that “we need to pray in order to experience the Power of God.
In Acts 4, the people prayed “and God moved, the place was shaken and they spoke with boldness. We too will speak with boldness when we have spent time in prayer,” Collins affirmed.
The sessions also featured breakout sessions for men led by Don Pierson, pastor, Stewart’s Chapel Baptist Church, Flintville, and Tony Rankin, minister of pastoral care, First Baptist Church, Nashville, and a clinical therapist.
Sessions for ministers’ wives were led by Jeanne Davis, ministers’ wives specialist for TBMB, and Leighann McCoy, pastor’s wife and prayer coordinator for Thompson Station Church, Thompson’s Station. B&R