Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Anna Goetz.
Anna, tell us about your ministry journey–the places and ways you have served.
I grew up at First Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, where my mom has served on staff my entire life, and my dad serves as a deacon. Although I was never fully employed by First Baptist Church, Arlington, the church and staff provided opportunities for me to serve. It will always be the place where I first felt called to ministry and the first place to give me a chance to live out that calling.
I attended Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and received my bachelor of music degree with an emphasis in classical voice and a minor in youth ministry. I was fortunate to be at a school where I could combine my passion for music and for youth ministry and take classes for both! While I was at Belmont, I had the opportunity to lead mission trips and serve with the church I attended, Brentwood Baptist Church. I was a student ministry intern there for two summers and worked in their student ministry for a year after I graduated from college. I received a ton of first-hand ministry experience at Brentwood.
I then attended George W. Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas, and in December 2014, I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in missions and world Christianity. While attending Truett, I served on the student recruitment team, participated in a youth ministry mission trip to Germany, and attended Calvary Baptist Church, where I had the opportunity to be part of the student ministry and missions ministry. Calvary provided many experiences to lead and to follow my calling in church ministry.
During seminary, I spent my summers working as a staffer for a student ministry camp. I had multiple leadership opportunities and learned so much about leadership, ministry, and the importance of intentionality in ministry during those summers.
When I graduated from seminary, I moved home and worked at Restore Hope, a non-profit in Arlington, Texas, where I worked with many projects, including ones that focused on the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and the steps to recovery for that nation. This job grew my understanding of the world and of the ways we can serve others in the name of Jesus. Cindy Wiles, the executive director of Restore Hope, was a mentor for me, and I am thankful for her encouragement and support.
Currently, I am the associate minister to students at First Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas. To be honest, this is the perfect job for me—one that I did not know would be perfect! God has been so faithful to bring me to a place that loves me deeply. This position allows me to combine so many of my passions. First Baptist is truly a fantastic church.
What are some of the greatest challenges of church ministry?
Although I am at a church filled with people who love me and support me, I have not always been surrounded with such support. During my last semester in seminary, I preached at a chapel service and later received a phone call from someone in an organization that did not support my calling to preach. The phone call was devastating, heartbreaking, and confusing, because the organization was made up of people that I felt knew me well and supported me. I was truly hurt and ended up walking away, because I felt that I could no longer be a part of an organization that didn’t support my calling.
This experience shook my confidence in my calling, and it has taken me a few years to get back to the place where I know and trust that God has called me to ministry. It has been challenging to not let one person’s opinion/ one organization’s opinion influence my calling. Although there are times when I still struggle with confidence in my calling and in ministry, I know I am at a church now that encourages me and affirms me.
Another challenge I have found in ministry is balance. As a single minister, there are times when, because I don’t have a family to come home to or to take care of, I fill my schedule with all kinds of events and ministry opportunities. While all of these things are good, I am learning that I must find time to care for myself and to step back and refuel at times. Learning to say no and not feeling guilty about saying no in order to build in time for myself has been and continues to be a challenge. I’m learning that the expectations I set for myself are not the same as the expectations set by my church, and I am welcomed and encouraged by my church family to find time alone, so I can refuel for the week and be the best minister I can be.
What have been the greatest joys?
Mondays are one of my favorite days in student ministry right now. Each Monday morning I meet with our senior girls for an early breakfast and Bible study. It’s been such a joy to spend time with these girls as they finish their senior year and look towards what is next.
Each Monday night ends with Bible study with middle school girls. These girls bring me so much joy and laughter. I’ve loved spending time with them, hearing about what God is doing in their lives, and discussing what it means to live this Christian life in middle school. Mondays begin and end with Bible study and students, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We also have staff meetings on Monday, and I love being with our church staff. We really do get things done, but most Monday afternoons are filled with laughter. It’s great to be on a staff that genuinely enjoys each other.
Another true joy of ministry is sharing life with students and their families. I love going to sporting events, concerts, plays, and anything else that our students participate in throughout the week. It’s such a joy to watch them compete and perform, and I love seeing our students and their families outside of the church. It gives me a way to connect with them and build deeper relationships with them throughout the week.
Another true joy of ministry for me are the events and opportunities we have for our students to serve and to live out their calling as Christians. Right now we are preparing for our high school mission trip, and it’s such a joy to prepare with our students and to encourage them to use their gifts and talents to share the love of Jesus with others. I love watching our students take the passions God has given them and use them to bring glory to God. And let’s be honest, we have so much fun on our trips with our students. I’m looking forward to the late night talks, the late night dance parties, and all the fun that comes with a trip like this. I love laughing and living life with our students.
Who have been the sources of encouragement for you as you have lived out your calling?
There are many that have walked with me as I have figured out what it means for me to live out my calling. First and foremost, my parents have been there every step of the way. They were incredibly supportive when I changed my major in college, when I stayed in Nashville to work for a year, when I applied and attended seminary, when I spent ten months living at home, and when I moved to Amarillo. They have prayed for me and encouraged me in so many ways. I am so thankful for the ways they continue to love and support me.
Pastors and staff members at each church I’ve attended have walked through this process with me and have given me opportunities over the years to explore this calling, including Charles Wade, former pastor at FBC Arlington, Texas; Dennis Wiles, current pastor at FBC Arlington; Jim Coston, former pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Waco, Texas; and Howie Batson, current pastor at FBC Amarillo, Texas. Each of these pastors in their own ways have encouraged, challenged, affirmed, and supported me as I have navigated my ministry calling. I am thankful for their support and love.
My time at Truett Seminary provided many professors who challenged me and supported me in and out of the classroom. Mike Stroope encouraged me to think missionally and to live out my calling for missions and the church. Andrew Arterbury attended the same church as I did in seminary, and he always checked in with me and encouraged me when I saw him not just in the classroom, but outside it. Hulitt Gloer was the first person who pointed out a gift of preaching in me and encouraged me to pursue this. David Garland supported me, not only as a professor, but also as a “boss,” when I had the opportunity to work in his office as a student worker. Dennis Tucker met with me right after the hurtful phone call when I preached in chapel and challenged me to see beyond what one person thought and remember that God had called me to ministry, no matter what others say. Each of these professors and others during my time at Truett continually encouraged me and pointed out things they saw in me that made me a better minister. I am so thankful for them.
Lastly, at FBC Amarillo, the staff and members, have embraced me and loved me well over the past year and a few months. They have served as sources of encouragement by providing opportunities to lead, not only in our student ministry, but also throughout different experiences with the church as a whole. I am encouraged as I continue to seek what it means for me to be at this church and to pursue the calling God has placed on my life. I know that the Lord has called me here, and I am so thankful for the people in my congregation.