17 Years and Counting

  • Home
  • Resources
  • Articles
  • 17 Years and Counting
  • This evening we will celebrate my pastoral anniversary at Mt. Sinai. The celebration will conclude on Sunday afternoon. Here is a brief article I wrote in this month’s church newsletter about anniversary celebration.

    17 Years and Counting…
    When people hear that I was called to pastor MSMBC while still a senior in high school, they often respond with a look that says, “What in the world…?” I understand their concern and share their shock. It really is amazing. And the years seem to have past so quickly. Yet it feels like a lifetime of events have taken place in these seventeen years.

    I am often asked what it was like to begin this work at seventeen. And what has it been like to pastor the same church – my father’s congregation, no less – for seventeen years. The answers are rather simple and clear to me. First of all, God has been strong, gracious, and faithful. Over the years of my ministry, I have had opportunities that some men never have after a lifetime of ministry work. Many lives have been impacted for Christ through my ministry in spite of me. To God be the glory!

    Likewise, the word of God has proven to be true, powerful, and sufficient. I am both too dumb and too smart to build my ministry on anything but the word of God. And I am more convinced than ever that the word of God will stand when the world is on fire. I think I am just a glorified Sunday School teacher. Of course, I try to be clear, applicable, and interesting (with various degrees of success). But I basically go to the pulpit with the conviction that either the Spirit of God is going to do something dynamic through the scriptures or my preaching is a doomed exercise in futility. And over and over again, the word of God does its work. Praise God!

    Furthermore, you have been wonderful congregation to serve. When people ask what was it like to be a pastor at seventeen, I think it would be better to ask MSMBC what it was like to have a seventeen-year-old pastor. I have learned much about leadership through trial and error. In fact, I often tease that I should write a book on pastoral leadership entitled, “Oops.” Yet through it all, this congregation has been prayerful and supportive. Can a pastor be more blessed? May the Lord give us many more fruitful years together to win more Christians and develop better Christians to the glory of God.

    Finally, I am grateful to God for the partnership of my wife Crystal over the past decade. I have learned much about the grace of God by the way Crystal cares for me and supports me. Her respect and encouragement and friendship has meant (and means) more than you (or she) will ever know. And what can I say about H.B. and Natalie? They remind me that I am not the “big-shot” that some people think I am. To them, I am just their silly daddy who happens to preach. And that’s the coolest thing in the world! Truly, I face the days ahead with gratitude, hope, and confidence in our great God.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.