Dan Summerlin, who retired from Paducah’s Lone Oak First Baptist Church in May after serving at churches small and large in a 40-year career, said young men considering the call to ministry would be wise to prepare for bivocational pastor ministry.
“I believe it’s going to be the future,” he said as the guest on “Leadership Lessons” podcast with Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director. “I tell guys going to college they will be studying the Bible the rest of their life. Find something you can make a living on.”
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Summerlin said if someone is sensing the call to ministry, “You need to seek it out. Don’t struggle over it. If God is calling you, you will know it. God will let you know in a way you will never forget.
“I’d encourage a person to get involved in church, do speaking, do ministry,” he noted. “And go talk to pastors, write letters to pastors. I wrote a letter to Charles Stanley, and he responded with a note and a book. You’d be amazed at the number of pastors who will help you in ministry.”
Summerlin spent his last 21 years as a pastor at Lone Oak, which he described as a “21-year honeymoon.”
He said the “church has grown spiritually and numerically” and in mission-mindedness. He said 16 to 18 young men have been called to the mission field, and the church is involved with several ministries in the United States, Asia and Africa.
Call to ministry
Summerlin, who said his call to ministry came while he was a junior in high school, served at churches of all sizes. He knew when he became the pastor at Lone Oak in 2002 that he intended to be the pastor only 20 years. Summerlin said his timeline for stepping aside was cast 30 years ago.
“Thirty years ago, I was praying about how I would like to finish. Two of my mentors both retired early and spent the rest of their life helping others. I asked God, ‘Let me do this. Let me retire and help pastors,’” he said.
Summerlin is doing just that serving as a conference speaker, leadership coach and mentor to pastors. He was a past KBC president, chairman of the administrative committee and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also served with Sunrise Children’s Services.
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