John Goetsch, Jr. was a pastor, an assistant pastor, an evangelist, and then a pastor again. Recently, he spoke with The Baptist Voice about how God has used all these experiences to prepare him for his ministry today.
What was your first ministry?
When I was about to graduate, Pastor Chappell approached me about a church that was without a pastor in Boron, California. They needed someone just to preach each Sunday morning. I agreed, and the church later asked me to be their pastor. After seeking counsel from my dad and Pastor Chappell, I accepted the pastorate and stayed for three years. It was a great blessing.
Where did God lead you next?
I wanted to be an evangelist like my father. That was my heart, but I felt I needed to work with a pastor. For four years, I worked with Brother Chuck Miller in Fresno, California, as a youth pastor, song director, and Christian school teacher. I learned a lot from him. Later, I was sent out of that church as an evangelist.
How did your work in a local church prepare you for evangelism?
Being an assistant pastor gave me the heart to come alongside a pastor, get his heart, and be able to support and encourage him. If I encouraged the pastor when I left, I felt it was a successful revival meeting, and the revival could continue on through the pastor.
What did you learn from your time in evangelism?
We were in evangelism for almost four and a half years—in thirty-seven states and about 250 churches. I thought I would do it for the rest of my life, but God had other plans. He was using all those experiences to prepare me. You see a lot on the road. You see not only the needs of the churches you are in, but also the cities you drive through. My first thought in every city we passed through was, “I wonder if there is a church here?” I was primarily in the West—from Arizona to Canada. As I drove hundreds of miles between churches, I became burdened to see churches established in these towns. I loved being an encouragement, but it was then the Lord began to work in my heart. If long term revival were to happen, it would happen through local churches. If there is a city without a local church, then revival for that city really isn’t possible.
How did god redirect you into the pastorate?
God was blessing us in evangelism. I sent out letters and believed that if God wanted us in evangelism, He would arrange the meetings. We had forty-nine meetings by the end of that first year and continued to average that every year we were in evangelism. During this time, we came across Faith Baptist Church in Yuma, Arizona. The church was struggling with just twenty people attending and no pastor. They were in the process of looking for a pastor. My dad had been there to preach and gave them my name as an alternate preacher.
The first time I preached there, we made friends and got a burden for the church. Yuma was ripe for the Gospel. I could see that when God put a pastor there, the church would really grow. To help the church, I began suggesting names of potential candidates. It was a big burden for me, but it seemed so difficult to get anyone to go candidate. When I was praying about this one day, it seemed the Lord impressed on me, “Well, if you are so concerned, why aren’t you praying about becoming the pastor?” Evangelism was my desire, but the Lord began to break me down. I understood it’s not so much about being an evangelist as it is about being where God wants you to be.
When did you candidate for the church in yuma?
After the Lord worked on me for a while, I called the church intending to throw my name in the hat. But when I called, the first thing I heard was that the church had a candidate, and it looked like he would be the one. I didn’t say a thing about being their pastor, but I knew the Lord was testing me. Sure enough, the church took off when the new pastor came, and that’s when God began to open my eyes about the need for churches.
I began praying about starting a church. When I heard that the new pastor in Yuma had left to take another struggling church, all of those thoughts and prayers for Yuma returned. I asked God to have the church call me if it was His will that I go. Within three hours of that prayer, the church called and asked if I would pray about becoming their pastor. I asked them for two months to pray about it. I was shocked when they agreed.
Through a series of circumstances during that time, the Lord completely impressed on me that this was what He had been preparing me for. We have been there for about two years, and we have seen God work again and again. It’s a real blessing to be in the center of God’s will.