Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an interview with an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are thrilled to interview, Lori Brown. Lori IS what a minister looks like!
Lori, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and served in my church in many different areas from the time I was in high school until now, primarily working with children. But while I was in college, I also developed a heart for college students. Through my own experiences and those of my friends, I realized what a huge transitional time in life those few years after high school can be. It was one of the times in my own life that shaped my identity in Christ and grew my faith.
However, my journey to full-time ministry did not begin in college. I am a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, which gave me the experience of working with people with various disabilities, while also allowing me the flexibility to be directly involved in raising my children and taking care of my family. A few years ago, I sensed God telling me I needed to go a different direction in my life. At that time, I was not sure if that meant a different speech job or something else, so I began to pray and to actively seek God’s guidance for my life.
The week after my youngest child graduated from high school, I was approached by the pastor at our church to be the Interim University Pastor. It seemed like a logical choice since I had been teaching in the university department for several years, and I viewed it as nothing more than a job at first. I was tasked with keeping things running over the summer and preparing for the fall semester when new and returning students would descend upon Wayland Baptist University, knowing at some point a new University Pastor would be hired. However, as I began to do the job I was asked to do, it became clear to me that I was exactly where I needed to be. For the first time in the last few years, that unsettled feeling of uncertainty was gone. It took me until about the second week of school for me to realize that I did not want to be “just” the interim. As I continued to seek God’s will in my life, it became clear that God was calling me to minister to university students, and shortly thereafter the church asked me to accept the permanent position as University Pastor. A few months later, God enabled me to use my speech pathology degree to start a special needs ministry at our church, so I am currently the University and Special Needs Pastor. Last summer the church licensed me to the ministry, further evidence of how God is continuing to work in my life in a way that I never anticipated!
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
The greatest sources of joy in my role as University Pastor has been to see students accept Christ and to have the privilege to disciple them. It is so much fun to sit down with them on a weekly basis to encourage them in their faith and see their eyes light up when they begin to understand a concept that we have been talking about. Having the opportunity to baptize several of my students has also been an awesome experience! It is exciting see the changes in the lives of our university students, and to see them learn to share their testimonies, learn to share the Gospel, and learn to disciple others.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced with university students is that they often do not understand the concept of committing to a church family. They want to go to one church for worship, another for Bible study, and another for the fun activities they provide. It has been a challenge to help our students think more long-term. I try to impress upon them that the church they choose in college is their “home away from home.” Just like they have a family at home, they also have a family at college—one that wants to invest in their lives. The students who have grasped that concept are discovering the benefits of finding a church home, learning accountability, and participating in multigenerational activities. My prayer for them is that by investing in a church while in college, they will see a reason to find a church home when they graduate and become members of other communities.
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
I don’t think you would call it advice, but something my husband said really stuck with me when I was considering making the move from Interim University Pastor to a permanent ministry position. I was experiencing doubt about my ability to be in full-time ministry since I did not have a ministry degree. When I mentioned those doubts to my husband he said, “What do you mean, can you do it? You’re doing it already!” I have been blessed with a supportive husband and children cheering me on. My pastor and fellow ministers have encouraged and supported my ministry. And I have gone back to school to get my ministry degree as I continue to minister to our university students. Through it all, God has consistently challenged me beyond my comfort zone! And in those moments of doubt, I’m reminded that I have been doing ministry all along, regardless of my “official position.” Ultimately, whenever God has asked me to do something, He has always provided exactly what I need.
Lori Brown is University and Special Needs Pastor at First Baptist Plainview in Plainview, Texas.