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New Haven Baptist pastor balances ministry, family, workcomment (0)

December 13, 2012

By Joseph Rhea

New Haven Baptist pastor balances ministry, family, work

Wade McCrory knows what it’s like to get to church after a full week of work: to sacrifice a precious morning of sleep to make it to church before the work week starts all over again.

But it’s a little different for McCrory: he’s the pastor of his church.  

McCrory is the bivocational pastor of New Haven Baptist Church, Greensboro, a position he has held since April 2011.

“They asked me to start helping preach one Sunday a month (in 2010),” McCrory said. They asked him to help lighten the preaching load of Burton Christian, then-interim pastor of the Hale Baptist Association church. After Christian retired, the church asked McCrory to step into the position.

“It was a lot easier than most pastors’ processes,” he laughed.

McCrory first felt God calling him to preach when he and his wife were attending Englewood Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa.

“I didn’t want to (do it) because it’s my biggest fear in the world to be in front of people,” McCrory said. “I was wrestling with Him, saying I’d do anything but that. But when it’s the Lord’s will for your life He won’t give you any rest or peace until you surrender.”

McCrory said he “did not enjoy [preaching] at all” at the beginning, but he remained confident that it was God’s will that he pursue it.

“I just have to use 2 Timothy 1:7 every time before I get up and preach,” he said. The verse asserts that God has not given believers a spirit of fear, but one of power.

McCrory did pulpit supply work over the years and taught Sunday School at Englewood Baptist. New Haven Baptist was actually the first church in which he preached, years before they called him to pastor.

The church had 12 to 15 members when McCrory took over as its pastor. Now, after a year and a half, between 60 and 70 people attend New Haven Baptist on Sunday mornings. The church baptized 27 people in 2011, when all of Hale Association usually averages 30 baptisms per year.

“God has really used him,” said Bill Wallace, director of missions for Hale Association. “He is a special young man.”

Wallace shared the story of how, after the April 2011 tornadoes ravaged the Hale County area, he saw McCrory several times assessing the area and using his own equipment to help people as he was able. “That’s always shown me his character,” Wallace said.

While McCrory feels certain he is called to preach and to serve as pastor of New Haven, he regrets that the church does not have a large enough budget to pay him a full salary. 

He works as the leader of a production team with the Mercedes plant in Vance, working 40–50 hours a week. The full-time commitment, plus his responsibilities to his family, means McCrory has far less time to serve pastoral functions or prepare sermons than he would like.

“More study time would definitely be what I’d want,” he said. “And I’d love to have more time visiting with my people, as well as … more time with the Lord.”

He also said he cannot be a pastor in the fullest sense; the bivocational pastor is a preacher and little more.

Wallace described the difficulties of bivocational pastors; 10 of the 13 churches in Hale Association have bivocational pastors.

“[These pastors] are under … pressure,” he said. “They’d love to … have enough financial support to be able to do God’s work all the time; I think that bothers all of them.”

McCrory said a bivocational friend of his proposed an idea for Baptist associations to help move pastors from having to be bivocational. If associations could pay half of a pastor’s salary for three or four years, a church could promise to match the other half for that time while it grows toward fully supporting the pastor.

“If [the pastor is] doing his job, within four years the church should be able to handle itself,” McCrory said.

Wallace said he is researching the idea and talking with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions about it.  Hale is “a strong association” despite not being economically well off, he said, and he hopes to see its pastors more freed to minister to their people.

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