MYRA—Nearly 30 years ago, Dave Hammond was ordained into ministry. In 1991, he became the pastor of Faith Baptist Mission, a church plant of First Baptist Church of Jenkins. Under his leadership and by God’s grace, the church has grown from the founding 12 members to averaging 200 on Sundays.
Until Hammond retired from working as a UPS driver a few years ago, which he did for 25 years, he was a bivocational pastor. The secret to his church’s growth under a bivocational pastor, he says, is found in Ephesians 4:12: “Equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”
Hammond is convinced that this is the calling of the pastor.
“I laugh sometimes and say I pastored by cellphone for 25 years,” he quipped. “I would just call people to do the work that needed to be done, and our people just stepped up. We all sort of caught the vision.”
Hammond continued, “The Bible says ‘without a vision, the people perish.’ Many of the saints have accepted the call to do the work, and God has blessed it. I wasn’t able to do a lot of the work, but I just had laborers who caught the vision along with myself.”
Today, Faith Baptist and Hammond have an active drug and rehab ministry, work in homeless shelters, have a K4-5th grade Christian school in its 17th year, and are ministering in the Pike County jail each week, among other ministries. During his tenure, he’s baptized around 500 people, all in a town that doesn’t even have a post office. People drive 20 or 30 miles to attend Faith, he says.
Hammond believes that another key to the church’s thriving is its outward focus.
“Our ministry is not within the four walls. Our ministry is outside the church,” Hammond said, emphasizing that by God’s grace, the church “caught the vision.”
“Because we’re reaching outside the walls, our church is starting to grow. People are coming in, and I don’t even know where they’re coming from. I believe it’s a direct benefit of stepping out of the four walls and reaching the needy and the poor and those who are hurting,” Hammond shared.
The Great Commission is fulfilled by outreach and “until we see people as Jesus sees them, we’ll never have compassion enough to go outside the walls,” he added.
Roger Johnson, who was on Hammond’s ordination council nearly 30 years ago, has noticed the growth of Faith Baptist of Myra as well. “God has tremendously blessed him in his ministry. It seems like whatever direction he goes in, the Holy Spirit is there to lead him exactly the direction he would want him to go,” Johnson said.
Hammond’s advice to other bivocational pastors is, “Get people involved in your church. Give them a vision. Let the church know what God has shown you, what they can do, how far they can go, how much they can grow, and to get on with the Great Commission.”
He added, “You know, you (bivocational pastors) have to have help within the church. Because you don’t have the time to be there on the field, you’ve got to have people willing to do the work that you can’t do because you’re bivocational and have a secular job.
“Encourage them to be a part of the vision, because the church is a body,” Hammond said. “We’re not individuals. We’re all one. If they work together as a team and play as a team, you’ll have victory in the body of Christ.” (WR)