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Interview with Dr. Turner Part 1

If you read this blog very often, you will have noticed that I like to repost Dr. Emil Turner, the Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention when he posts his blog on Fridays. He graciously agreed to let me email him an interview to post on the blog, which I'll post in 3 parts this week. I even told him he could skip any questions that he wasn't sure he wanted broadcast to the world, and he still answered all of them. Either he's very open, or I didn't ask controversial questions. However, I'm no journalist. We'll let Charlie Warren handle that. Here's the first installment:

Tell me about your call to ministry.

I was called to ministry as a college student. I majored in History with a minor in English, preparing to attend law school. My involvement in Campus Crusade for Christ as a student however was the most fulfilling thing I had ever experienced. In my senior year someone asked me what I would do if I could do anything I wanted to do. Immediately, I knew that I would tell people about Jesus, and then train them to tell others about Him. This was my call to ministry. Rather than attend law school, I went on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, serving with them for a number of years before becoming a staff member in the church in which we were members.

Have you ever had a sermon illustration go wrong? (This comes from a goof of my own. I was trying to make a point about being willing to give up bagging a big hunting trophy for greater things, like leading your huntin' buddy to Christ. It was turkey season. I was trying to think of a large turkey, and thought that, since wild turkeys are probably bigger than farm turkeys, they'd weigh twice as much. Store turkey: 15 lbs. A quick use of my brain for math doubled 15 lbs into 150 lbs instead of 30 lbs. Now, a 30 lb turkey would be a tremendous trophy. A 150 lb turkey would feed an elephant. So, that crashed the entire sermon, and is still brought up by that church. )

I have chosen the wrong illustration on more than one occasion. Because I love history, and read medieval history constantly, I often use historical incidents as sermon illustrations. Frequently now, the congregation will have no understanding of the historical events I cite. Rather than clarifying my point, I have obscured it. I find I must give more and more attention to selecting the right illustrations.

What is the best thing a newly committed minister can do to prepare for service?

The most helpful thing to me was to serve as an associate under a wise and godly pastor. I learned by watching him. He knew how to prepare a church for change, how to minister to people who disagreed with him, and how to set priorities. And he made me work hard. I served with him two years before I went to seminary.

Obviously the Bible is the most important book for believers. What do you think is the second most important book?

A famous preacher, (R.G. Lee, I think) said that a pastor should be a man of three books: the Bible, the checkbook, and the book of etiquette. He was saying that in addition to the Bible, the pastor must master his own finances, and his own behavior. I think if I only had one commentary other than the Bible, I would choose J. Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book.. If only one non-ministry related book, it would be Homer’s The Odyssey.

If you wrote a book, what be the title and what would it be about?

I have long wanted to write a devotional commentary on the Gospel of Mark. The only thing holding me back is that I doubt anyone would read it.

Thanks for your time!


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