Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister. Today, we are excited to introduce Kristin McAtee.
Kristin, tell us about your ministry journey, the places and ways you have been serving and are serving.
When I first started on my ministry journey, my intention was to work in music ministry. I served a small church during college as the music director. It was in this first ministry setting where I first felt the call to vocational ministry, and where my mentor, the church’s pastor, encouraged me to listen to God’s call on my life. That encouragement was the first time anyone had ever suggested to me that God might have plans for my career and future, and it was empowering. With the help of my mentor and his family, I left for seminary and began this adventure.
After seminary, I felt a strong interest in missions. I took a job serving a church overseas, but it fell through. At that time, I began to search for work in music ministry, and it took many years to find a church that would willingly allow a young woman to serve. I felt so closely related to others who were also waiting for God’s call to be fulfilled. I felt like Moses and Joseph, like the prophets who saw the future that was not yet coming to pass. During this time of waiting, I served my local church. I was ordained as a deacon and led committees. I taught. Looking back, I credit those years for making me a better minister. My expectations of the congregation were high coming out of seminary. I anticipated people spending hours on Bible study, worship, and ministry. My time in lay leadership taught me what it means to hold a regular job and still find time to be involved in church. I became more sympathetic and understanding of the sacrifice people make for church and how important it is to honor that gift of time and resources.
Most of my ministry has been at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. I am so blessed to have a job that allows me to express the many aspects of my skills, personality, and desire to serve God. My job encompasses children’s ministry, church administration and operations, missions, preaching, relations with the community, relations with our ethnic church partners, and so much more. My dreams for ministry have grown past those early years of seeing just one aspect of ministry, one of just a few options available to women. I now understand that God has called me, not a church or a denomination. I understand that God’s call is bigger than a job. God’s call is from the Creator of the universe, the Creator of me. I feel a calling to pastor and I know now that the God who brought me through the wasteland of time spent without ministry can accomplish that.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
I enjoy bringing people together to engage in Kingdom work. It’s exciting when the church realizes it is just a small part of God’s Church. Our church building is home to six congregations, a school, a medical dental clinic, and multiple community partners who use our space for meetings. I love bringing together people who have dreams for our community and watching God take root in their conversations and create relationships. It’s enlivening to be a part of that Kingdom work!
I have been a part of my current congregation for twenty years. It has been a great joy to me to watch God work in lives and families over time. God’s work is often slower than we desire or anticipate. By serving so long here, I am able to watch God heal individuals and families. I can watch our children become ministers and believers strong in their faith. When my days are hard and feel fruitless, it’s good to be reminded that God is always at work.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
My own expectations and the expectations of others have been challenges for me. I never expected to feel called as a minister. I never expected to be called to community work, to missions, or to the pastorate, and yet God worked past my expectations. I held myself back by not dreaming bigger and not recognizing that I was accepting the expectations others held for me. I think it is still the case that we live off the expectations of our congregations, families, and friends. As a woman, I am still often expected to be soft and sweet, to be meek and mild, rather than the bold leader God created me to be. It is as much my challenge as anything to live past human expectations into divine expectations.
What is the advice you would give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?
Dream big! If God has called you, God will make a way. Seek out different voices, not just those in your home church. There are so many people of so many backgrounds who are a part of my faith story and not a part of my immediate congregation. I need them and their ideas to think outside my own box! And read as many different books as you can until you find those who speak to you, educate you, and make you a better minister. So much of my own faith has come through a wide variety of people long gone who left behind their thoughts and dreams in books. When you begin to hear from those outside your circle, your world opens up and you begin to see God’s big picture. It will open your mind to so many amazing possibilities. Don’t be limited!