By: Zach Mullis
My name is Zach Mullis, and my wife (Emillie) and I both graduated from SEBTS in December 2013 (she with her M.A. in Christian studies and I with my M.Div. in Christian ministry). Back in February of this year, I began to pastor The Gathering Place Wardville in Pineville, Louisiana, which is a plant out of Emillie's home church, from which she came to SEBTS.
Our church plant began meeting about three years ago in the old Wardville Baptist Church building (that we were given by that church). It is situated in the middle of a hard to reach and racially different (from our congregation's demographic) neighborhood, and we are so thankful for this opportunity. We desire to see the gospel promote reconciliation between God and man but also between white and black. In a place like Louisiana, this would really be uniquely God glorifying! We are currently trying to figure out the best way to reach this community and meet their real needs with wisdom (in other words, not be used just for what material goods we can offer, but truly help them see their need to repent and believe the gospel). Please pray that the Lord will grant us this request and continue to grow our influence within this community.
If I could encourage new or prospective students or alumni with anything from my very limited time as a pastor, it is this: Study counseling as much as possible! There are real people, real marriages, and real, everlasting souls that are hurting and in desperate need of some loving, compassionate and truthful words from the Lord and not just theological platitudes. The types of conversations I have regularly with people are a far cry from when I used to imagine having those conversations (or actually had debates about those conversations) in seminary. In my seminary imagination, my arguments and words were always totally convincing and well received, resulting in 180 degree lifestyle turns. It's very different to sit down to counsel a real, live couple in a breaking marriage and watch the wife walk away after you worked to convince them that God is for their marriage and that reconciliation is always most desirable. Counseling classes at least seek to take all that theology that we learn and help us prepare to apply it in the context of real situations. This is the one area in my ministry in which I have felt a deficiency most acutely.