By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
Let me tell you about my friend Scott Helton.
Scott is a schoolteacher. He is also a pastor. He isn’t “part time” at either.
I’ve known Scott since he was a teenager and I was honored to be his pastor. He’s had a heart for ministry for a long time. He first served as a worship leader, then a few years ago, he served in his first pastorate. The entire time he’s also been teaching. It isn’t necessarily an easy road he chose, but then again, God chose it for him. I’ll let Scott tell the story.
“I was scared to death to begin pastoring. Moses had a burning bush experience, but I had my own bush experience while sitting on my back deck and praying about accepting the call to pastor. God drew my attention to a beautiful bush that was taller than the deck, and I felt God reminding me of how that bush began. It was a gift from my father-in-law. It was an old, dried-up and withered shrub from the woods behind his house. He handed it to me in a five gallon bucket where it had obviously been for days. I planted it, and now here it was flourishing just a few years later.
“I felt God was asking me, ‘What did you do to grow that bush?’ My response, ‘Nothing, I just watered it each week.’ ” What God revealed next will forever shape my ministry. ‘Scott, that’s all I’m asking you to do as a pastor. You just water with the Word each week and I’ll do the rest.’ God has certainly been faithful to that promise. I’m just blessed to water with the Word each week. He takes care of everything else.”
Scott became pastor of Fairfield Baptist Church a little over a year ago and he’s still teaching school. The church set a goal of seeing 19 people saved, baptized and set on the road of discipleship in 2019. This church that averages 120 in Sunday morning worship saw their goal of 19 spiritually lost people saved swirl to a total of 36 last year!
How? Scott faithfully and generously “waters with the Word” everywhere. They’ve seen revival break out in their youth group, and 15 youth to date have come to saving faith in Christ. Nine kids were saved during Vacation Bible School, and so far almost all of them have been baptized. At least two of the mothers have now also been saved and baptized. The church serves a meal for the Walters State Community College Lady Senators basketball team each year, and after watering worship with the Word, two members of the team were saved that evening.
Scott has a friend who is the head nurse at Hamblen Hospital and she often sends cancer patients home on hospice, many of whom do not know the Lord. One of those patients was a man in his 70s with whom Scott shared the gospel and the gentleman received eternal life while standing at the door of physical death.
The Heltons are heroes to me. But I’ll confess, they were just one of many couples who are my heroes taking part in the annual Tennessee Baptist Bivocational Ministers and Wives Conference held recently in Pigeon Forge. Scott’s sweet wife, Angela, calls the retreat their annual “pep rally.” It was a capacity crowd of over 300 strong (with a waiting list) who came together for worship, encouragement, and mainly fellowship. It was the largest group to attend the conference in the two-plus decades we’ve been hosting it.
And why shouldn’t it be growing. The number of bivocationally led churches is growing, not just in Tennessee but across the Southern Baptist Convention. We at the TBMB are pitching our tent toward networking, equipping and encouraging this growing army of servant leaders. Bivo pastors come from all walks of life; environmental services, insurance, investment, contractors, doctors, engineers, schoolteachers and more. They range in age from younger to older. What they all have in common is a calling to pastor and to serve the Lord and the local church.
Jeanne and I have had the joy of working with our bivo ministers and wives for a long time, long before our ministry with the TBMB began. I confess, it is still the highlight of our year. These couples come to the conference for encouragement, but I wonder if Jeanne and I aren’t the ones who walk away more encouraged just being with them. These men and women are inspirational, committed, banner-waving, gospel-bearing warriors for King Jesus.
I love this ministry to them, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my appreciation for the vision and hard work through the years of men like Ray Gilder and John Parrott, and the TBMB support staff who serve these families with enthusiasm and excellence.
Please pray for these bivocational heroes of the TBC and the SBC – husbands and wives – as they labor in their mission fields. It is certainly my joy to be on this journey with all of them.