On August 15th, 2014 I conducted an interview with Pastor Albert Gregg, the current and long running pastor of College Heights Baptist Church, located in Temple, Texas. Pastor Gregg believes the Bible, has some 37 years of pastoral experience, was my pastor for a period of about 2 years, and is my personal friend. The goal of this interview was to ascertain his call to the pastorate, his path to the pastorate, his view on the desirable qualities of a pastor, his practical approach to the pastorate, any subsequent recommendations for other pastors. The following is a synopsis of the aforementioned interview.
The Call to Preach
Pastor Gregg maintained that when he was a teenager, he sat near the back of the auditorium with the other teenagers, not really paying attention to the services. God began to work in his heart, and he began sitting at the front of the auditorium. During the invitation, he would go to the altar often, and eventually concluded that God had called him to preach. He was approximately 14 years old at the time of surrendering to the call. This was roughly 3 years after he initially trusted Christ at the age of 11.
The Initial Response
Pastor Gregg began to preach on occasion, the first time not lasting more than 5 minutes. During this time, his mother trusted Christ, and although his father was also dealt with by Bro. Hugh Adkisson (his pastor at the time), his father rejected that attempt to convince him of his need for Christ.
The Time between the Call and the First Pastorate
He took his first office as a pastor in 1967, in Moore, Oklahoma. He was 26 years old at the time, putting his first pastorate at 12 years after his call to preach.
He depends mostly on his faithfulness to the church he was a part of during his first years after the call to preach. He taught Sunday school, and after his completion of high school, he went on to Bible School, where he completed a 3 year program in 4 years. He attributes the 4 year Bible School time line to having to work while also attending classes. He graduated from Bible School in 1963.
He then (prematurely) accepted an offer for an associate pastor with which he learned and the Lord blessed him. He then went back to his home church in Fort Worth, Texas where he spent one day a week following the pastor as he completed his typical duties. Then in the first part of 1967, he took an associate pastorate at Belt Line Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, helped build a Sunday school class, and his pastor decided he wasn’t building it up enough, and wanted him to move on. Later that year, he took his first pastorate in Moore, Oklahoma. He concluded that he learned more in the church where he wasn’t a paid staff member, because the pastor showed him how he did certain things.
The Most Valuable Part of the Training
Pastor Gregg concluded that the practical discipling was the most valuable part, as when he was a teenager he just followed Bro. Hugh around, learning from him. And then after he had moved on to another church, his pastor sat him down and showed him some of the things he did, this also contributed to Pastor Gregg’s view of the value in his training.
Things He Might Change Concerning the Training
Pastor Gregg thought that maybe, if he had stayed in Duncan, under the pastor of the church where he went to Bible School, that he might have been better benefited. But he attested that he was best served in his initial home church, under Bro. Hugh’s direction.
The Most Difficult Pastoral Qualification to Meet or Keep
Pastor Gregg admitted that for him, he had a weakness in studying, as he preferred working outside, rather than studying the Bible. His personality is one of an introvert, so he found it hard to get started when he would go out on door to door visitation.
The Circumstances that Lead to the Pastorate
After his call to preach, when the opportunity arose for him to take the pastorate in Moore, Oklahoma, he believed it was what God wanted. He later resigned, and spent a month candidating for another pastorate. He tried out in Temple, Texas for pastor and in Lawton, Oklahoma for associate pastor. Both churches called him, and he spent a week deciding which direction to go. He ultimately concluded that God wanted him in Temple, Texas, and looking back, affirms that as the correct decision.
The Biggest Weakness among Preachers Today
Pastor Gregg believes that pastors today are often over-protected, manifesting possessiveness regarding their members. He goes on to identify that church members do not belong to the pastor, but to the Lord. When problems arise, he believes that pastors should, wherever possible, work with their members to solve the issues.
The 5 Most Important Character Qualities in Today’s Pastors
Pastor Gregg sited the following characteristics he believes today’s pastors need to manifest:
- Openness/transparency, with wisdom on specific instances that should not be publicly broadcasted versus those that should. But regarding who the pastor is, he believes that should be well known.
- Dealing with people on their level, or dealing with people as they need to be dealt with. This is the “all thing to all men” attribute Paul described in I Corinthians 9:22.
- The necessity of prayer, not just for the pastor, but for the church as well.
Handling the Priorities of the Pastorate
He believes that the priority is handling the needs of the people. For him, when things were running the way he liked, he would follow this typical schedule. Monday, he would go to the bank and/or buy things that that the church needed; Tuesday he would perform visitation duties; Wednesday he would study for the evening service; Thursday was another visitation day; Friday he would study; and Saturday would be a day to rest for Sunday; with Sunday being devoted to the services. He emphasized the need for flexibility in dealing with the needs of the people.
The Most Difficult Aspect of Ministry for the Pastor’s Family
When problems arose in the church, it became difficult for Pastor Gregg’s family. He believes it’s more difficult for the pastor’s family to shake off these issues than it is for the pastor. However, some pastors leave instead of dealing with these problems. Church members sometimes demand more of the pastor’s family than they do of their own families. They tend to watch the pastor’s family closely.
The Most Difficult Aspect of Working with Other Pastors, Staff Members
Pastor Gregg pointed to a situation where his associate pastor was wooing some of the members, and he had to deal with it. The associate pastor then left the church, and a few of the other members also left. Again, he pointed to having to deal with problems.
The Daily Routine
Now, Pastor Gregg likes to use Monday to go the bank and to work in the printing ministry alongside Missionary/Evangelist Milton Martin. Tuesday he likes to work at home, mowing, etc. Wednesday he studies and buys things for the church if he was not able to do it previously. Thursdays he likes to work in the yard at the church building, believing it is a testimony for the local church. Fridays he likes to study. Saturdays he likes to relax, and be ready for preaching on Sunday. He likes to go on visitation as the need arises, visiting those that have visited the church, and his church members.
The first thing he does when he wakes up every morning is read his Bible, and he normally has a prayer time as well. On Wednesday and Friday he will often wait until he reaches the church building to get involved in prayer. On Sundays, he will show up earlier than the meeting times to go over the messages to be prepared for the services. As the opportunity arises, he likes to attend events at other churches, fellowship with other preachers, etc.
Other Pastors He Looks Up To
Pastor Gregg looks up to Missionary/Evangelist Milton Martin. He enjoys fellowship with Joe Hawking of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a man he met while he was pastoring in Moore, Oklahoma and believes that he preaches well. He also looks up to Brother Wayne Hudson and Pastor James Turner. He sees desirable qualities in these men.
Thing(s) to Impart to Young Preachers
Pastor Gregg declared that the young preacher must be willing to be faithful, whether the times are good or bad. He mentioned that during the good times, the preacher can sometimes become relaxed. He said that we must be vigilant, and that the Lord does not require success from us, but rather faithfulness. There’s no place to quit. Aging may require a change in the work, but we should do the best that we know how to do, and God blesses.