Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Christy McMillin-Goodwin.
Christy, tell us about your ministry journey–the places and ways you have served.
I completed two internships at First Baptist Church, Greenville, South Carolina, while I was in college at Furman University at First Baptist Greenville. I had opportunity to work with Donna Forrester, Janice Johnson, and Michelle McClendon. After graduating from Furman, I was the summer youth intern at Kirkwood Baptist in Kirkwood, Missouri, and then I headed off to Richmond, Virginia for seminary. During my years at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, I served as youth minister at Chester Baptist Church in Chester, Virginia. Back in 1995, I was called as the minister of students by Oakland Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and in 2004, I transitioned to a new role as minister of education at Oakland. I have now been serving there for twenty-plus years. What a great church!
What challenges have you encountered along the way?
One of my biggest challenges is learning what battles to fight and which ones to let alone. In church ministry, so many things can get in the way of the big picture. In the moment, they can seem like a big deal, but in the long run, some of them mean very little. Our senior minister used to say, “It’s just a poot in the whirlwind.” I guess a nicer way to say it is, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” He is right, especially when responding to people in the church. Often a church member’s issue is very important to them, but in the scheme of life and ministry, that issue may not be worthy of all the time and emotional energy that ministers put into it.
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
I have been so very lucky to have served in churches that supported my call to ministry. The church in which I grew up recognized my call to ministry and encouraged me to follow that calling. That church, Greenlawn Baptist Church had two women on staff, Becky Stout and Sandra Gill, who were examples that women could be ministers. Marion Aldridge, my pastor while growing up, always encouraged my calling. First Baptist Church in Greenville, Kirkwood Baptist Church, and Chester Baptist Church all nurtured my calling. Having a support group of other women ministers (my peer learning group) has been an inspiration and encouragement when ministry has been difficult. My family, especially my husband, Shane, has continued to support me through thick and thin. The young girls in my church inspire me to be the best minister I can be so that they may hear God’s voice encouraging them to be whatever they want to be as they grow.
What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry?
During your high school years:
1. Attend church as much as possible (a church that will support your call!), pray, and read scripture
2. Find a mentor, preferably a woman who is in ministry. If not, find a male minister mentor who will encourage you and support you.
3. Hang out with friends who will encourage you.
4. Study and work hard in school. Ministry is demanding. You will be grateful for time spent studying when you are working in a church.
Once you are a little older and in college:
1. Find a religious group on campus that supports your call.
2. Find a church to attend that will encourage you and may even let you “try-out ministry.”
3. Find a mentor, another woman in ministry, who can be your encourager.
After you attend seminary and are at your first church
1. Connect with a peer group of fellow ministers that will be the group to say that you are okay, that you are not crazy, and that you are doing worthwhile ministry.
2. Find good friends who will be good with your not wearing your ministry hat around them.
3. Find a spiritual director who can help you nurture your own spiritual life.
4. Continue learning. Go to workshops, get your Doctor of Ministry degree, subscribe to thoughtful publications. Do the things that help you refine your craft.