Micah Fries spent time on the mission field in Africa and now pastors the growing Fredrick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He’s an influential blogger and leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m grateful he’s taken time to chat for today’s Friday Five:
You spent time as a missionary in Africa and now pastor a church in America. How has your time on the foreign mission field affected your ministry as a local church pastor?
It’s probably hard to understate how significant our time in West Africa was. Living in another culture reinforced in my mind the importance of global mission. Serving among a people who had never heard the Gospel was incredibly humbling. Living in that culture taught my wife and I that we could live with much less than we might have been used to. The poverty was so significant, we were reminded we could live on much less and it enabled us to see the need to give more sacrificially. Finally I would say that living in another culture taught me the importance of contextualization. Those who argue that the Gospel does not need to be contextualized either do not understand the meaning of the word, or have an odd perspective of Gospel and ministry. Communicating Gospel truth in a manner which is easily understood by those receiving the message is vital to our success with the Gospel.
As a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, what would you say is the biggest misconception about Southern Baptists?
It’s the belief that Southern Baptists are a monolithic people. The breadth of theology/methodology/etc. amongst Southern Baptists is, at times, breathtaking. I regularly get frustrated when people lump all Southern Baptists in one basket. It’s simply not possible. I celebrate our diversity, and love the fact that being part of the SBC allows me the privilege of to be partnered together with a number of people who may not be much like me. It seems to me to be a great picture of eternity.
You’re a pastor who uses technology (blogging, tweeting, etc). Do you think its essential for a pastor to be plugged to have an influence in this generation?
On the one hand I would argue that one of the greatest examples of contextualization would be to utilize technology for Gospel advance. In our culture it is difficult, if not impossible, to advance the Gospel well apart from it. Having said that, I know multiple pastors who rarely, if ever, use technology and they are successfully leading churches that area growing and who are leading the charge to expand the Kingdom of God. So, ultimately I think there are precious few things which I would say are “essentials” to spreading the Gospel, but having said that I would say that it will be difficult to effectively lead a church on mission apart from it.
You’re theme is “Gospel, Community, Mission.” Explain this emphasis.
I am a passionate believer in having a road map for where one is going. By that I mean that we must know clearly where we are going and how we are planning to get there. Gospel, Community, Mission is the road map that my church and I use to accomplish God’s purpose in our lives which is to bring glory to Him while we advance the Gospel message. We want to be a people who embrace the Gospel, grow in community and serve, with the community, on mission. I think it is a thoroughly biblical picture of what it looks like to make disciples.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring pastor, church planter, or missionary?
I’ve often said that brevity is not my friend so it may be difficult to offer just one thing. However, if I were to offer only one thing it would probably be to love God deeply as He is revealed in Scripture. Know God’s word, stay faithful to God’s word, teach God’s word. It may sound a bit like a cliché, but I know no more significant issue in our day than to have an army of pastors who love God, as He is revealed in His word, and so they treasure his word and lead based on His word. I would argue that this means emphasizing the integrity of God’s word, but also the sufficiency of God’s word.