Today, at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Brogue, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our Pastor, Randy Starr, shepherding our congregation. What a day! Preaching were Pastor Dave Bottrell and Pastor Keith Sweitzer, both sent out as church planters from our church. Everything was uplifting: from the singing, to the testimonies, and definitely the preaching. The testimonies were terrific: from “old-timers” to new members, thanks was given to God for a faithful pastor. We are proud to call ourselves members of Mt. Zion.
Our church is made of a host of different types of people, but the majority tend to be hard-working farmers, hunters, and contractors. Pastor is not naturally any of those things. That doesn’t matter, though, to God. Pastor Starr was called to Brogue in 1990 to lead a country church down the path of biblical living, soulwinning, and excellence. And we all love him. Praise the Lord that He called a willing and obedient man to our church!
My first impressions of Pastor Starr were a little bit fearful: I was in my senior year of college, engaged to be married, and preparing for graduation and ministry. I was told, when moving to Brogue, that Pastor Starr is very disciplined and thrills himself in organization and planning. I thought that was great, but not quite to the extent I heard. I heard stories of notebooks of organization and planning lining every wall (almost true!), everything being very sharp (true!), and a strong leader (true!). Someone told me if I didn’t do things right at Mt. Zion, Pastor Starr would rip my head off!
Then we got here…one of the first things that welcomed us late that night was a card from Pastor and Mrs. Starr–simply encouraging. I sure noticed the organization and detail orientation from Pastor, but I also noticed something far more prominent in this man’s life: compassion for people. Pastor loves his congregation, and is very concerned with their relationship with God. When he would give counsel, it was not always what people wanted to hear, and sometimes they wouldn’t follow his biblical counsel. I have seen people break Pastor’s heart, but he still loves them, prays for them, and welcomes them right back in, as if nothing had ever happened, after they get right with God. This is something you could never learn in a college textbook. Compassion comes directly from a Holy Spirit filled person. If there’s anything I have and want to continually learn from Pastor, it is his love for people!
For a long time, I saw Pastor’s love for the church, and heard people say how encouraging he is. I didn’t know it myself until my wife and I counseled with Pastor. “This is what a pastor is supposed to be: stern, yet encouraging; loving, yet honest,” I thought. What a Godly example and heritage Pastor Starr is to our church, and to me personally. And Mrs. Starr–my wife just loves her: again, the compassion, sincerity, and friendliness in times of hardship, all of which are an example to her as well.
This is the kind of pastor I desire to be some day: a forceful preacher, a seeker of the lost, and a shepherd to God’s church. Praise the Lord for twenty years of faithfulness!
1 Timothy 3:1-7
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.