LEROY, Ala. (BP) — It was the main point of a real talk video post Pastor Ben Posey made on Facebook Jan. 17. With First Baptist Church’s steeple embraced by the winter dusk in the background, Posey walked to his car in the parking lot at the end of the day and talked about boldness, stress and hope that can begin as small as a mustard seed.
“He tells us to pray bold things … that mountains will move,” he said. “… God calls us to pray not because we think every prayer is going to be answered the way we want it answered … but God calls us to pray.”
Later in the video Posey admits to being worried about a number of things; things that make his faith feel as small as a mustard seed. During a phone call with Baptist Press he talked more about the current environment of being a pastor. It can raise your blood pressure in a variety of ways – from political divisions in the church to finding your next generation of leaders.
And it’s all happening as pastors navigate ministry amid the virus that has upended everything.
In the town of Leroy, First Baptist can almost be considered a mega-church by local comparison, with an average weekly attendance of 200. It sits about a half-mile from the high school and two miles from the Tombigbee River. Traversing the Joe C. McCorquodale Bridge in that direction takes you to the city of Jackson – which mainly means the location of the nearest Walmart, fast food options and Little League baseball fields.
Posey’s ministry at First Leroy is busy. The church held a DiscipleNow weekend a few weeks ago, and on Sunday (Jan. 30), it is set to host a Life Action Summit. Organized by Life Action Ministries, the Jan. 30-Feb. 6 revival event is geared to reach all ages through time spent in Scripture as well as corporate prayer and worship.
But that activity and signs of God at work don’t happen in an environment without challenges. Posey has noticed a gap in male leadership at the church for those around 45-55. Last year the nearby power plant switched from coal to natural gas, costing about 100 jobs. Rather than stay in a small town, families are opting for the suburbs of Mobile, 45 minutes south.
“If you like being in the woods, you live here,” he said with a laugh.
Wins and setbacks come with any setting for pastoral leadership. At Lifeway Christian Resources’ board meeting Jan. 24, President Ben Mandrell called Posey’s “incredible feedback” as a pastor representative of the majority of his SBC brethren. Such feedback is crucial for the entity’s mission.
“Ben is at the model church that we aim to serve first,” Mandrell said. Posey is in his fourth year on Lifeway’s board and was recently elevated to an officer role as secretary.
Mandrell and his wife, Lynley, sat next to Posey and his wife, Tori, during a Nashville Sounds baseball game last summer. “He’s smart as a whip, and we had a great time talking,” Mandrell told BP.
“The secret sauce of Lifeway is for us to serve well those churches not big enough to host their own camp in the summer,” he said. “Ben loves that town and plans to be there a long time. Since a large majority of SBC churches are similar to his, we need him to speak into Lifeway’s services and products.
“We want to hear what he has to say.”
Mandrell’s praises notwithstanding, Posey sandbagged a bit on what he felt he could bring to the table when told he was going to be an officer.
“I told him I felt I wasn’t qualified, but I knew how to be a friend and I could pray,” Posey said.
Whatever the ministry context, it’s important to trust God’s leading to effectively share the Gospel with others. “You have to find a way to leverage the foundation you have to propel you into the future God wants for you,” Posey said.
And if you have trouble finding a way? Just ask.