I recently found myself registering for an annual pilgrimage that began for me 15 years ago. The Spiritual Leadership Conference hosted by Lancaster Baptist Church and Pastor Paul Chappell has been an encouragement to me each year that I’ve been able to attend – for they continually emphasize spiritual leadership, servant leadership, and soul-winning leadership. This year I am especially excited to hear preaching from elder statesmen in our movement like Dr. Don Sisk and Dr. Bobby Roberson who are able to uplift my heart and encourage my soul more in one hour of preaching than eight hours of idea sharing. I’ve been to many pastor’s conferences but SLC still remains my favorite.
So, this leads me to the point of this post. As I was registering for this conference the Lord seemed to ask me a question, “Where would you be without the ministry of my servant Paul?” I have been contemplating that question over the last few days and believe I have come to a few conclusions I felt led to share here. I love Paul Chappell because…
He is a Trailblazer
There would be no Josh Teis if there were no Paul Chappell in the Independent Baptist Movement. This is not to pin any of my outlandish statements or ministerial mistakes on his shoulders (for the Lord knows I’ve made many). But to give honor to a man who has helped our movement tremendously. I believe Paul Chappell, along with just a few others, have helped shepherd the Independent Baptist Movement from the glory days of the 1970s into the twenty-first century. I am utterly convinced that our movement would neither have the size nor strength it currently does if we had been deprived of this man’s influence.
For those who would peg this post as idolizing a man or hero worship I would just say, we all have men we admire and stating this admiration is completely appropriate – lighten up, bro!
Though my father and Pastor Chappell have been friends for many years, my personal interaction with this man has been limited. I did not have the privilege of being trained at West Coast Baptist College for the Lord led me to an equally wonderful institution, Pensacola Christian College. His influence in my life has come primarily from reading his books, listening to his sermons, and downloading his podcasts. From the early days of our church plant I have read nearly every word this man has penned and his writings have truly impacted my heart and ministry.
He is a Soul Winner
This man doesn’t just talk about soul winning. He is a soul winner. Trust me, I know about soul-winners. Though I fall short in this area myself, I have seen the insistent pursuit of souls from a father who can barely go a day without tweeting about leading another soul to Jesus, and from a mentor named Sumner Wemp who handed out tracts like they were lottery tickets.
I’ve noticed something unique in the writings and public talks of Paul Chappell in comparison to many church leaders at his level. He doesn’t speak in terms of church growth but in terms of souls saved. He seems more concerned about the baptism waters than the attendance numbers. When he speaks of soul-winning he is talking about door-to-door evangelism for this is the place he has personally led more souls to Jesus than any other. He is not attempting to canonize a method but simply share with other ministers the effectiveness of what he has personally seen. This man reflects the heart of the good shepherd who genuinely, truly, and with sincerity cares for the fate of the lost sheep.
He is a Great Father
I don’t want to overstate my intimacy with the Chappell family, though we have been together on occasion, my siblings are the ones who know them as friends. However, I think that I can speak to this man’s dedication to his family. For I know what dedicated parents look like.
When it comes to parenting in ministry I happened to grow up with Dave and Anna Teis. They are the gold standard for parenting and I compare everything I see to their standards, methods, and philosophy. When I look at the lives, hearts, love, and ministries of the Chappell children I see so much of my own family there.
Though all parenting must be done by the grace of God and the results of this labor are always up to God’s Divine blessing, raising well-balanced children who love Jesus should not be considered a fluke. Paul and Terrie Chappell seem to have done something right! While remaining focused on their local church and international ministry they didn’t neglect the priority of home ministry. This is indeed honorable.
He is a Genuine Disciple
To me? This is what matters most. I’ve watched this man from a distance, and on occasion – more closely, for nearly 20 years and I have always seen him to be a true follower of Jesus. Spend time in one of his devotionals, from which my sisters continually quote, and you’ll see his heart for Jesus. Walk through his Expanded Outlines from the Study Library series and you’ll see his love for the Word of God. Read through his dozens of books and you will see a man who is simply attempting to walk with Jesus and bring as many people into the kingdom of Christ as possible.
A man who leads will not be without his critics. There are those who harshly critique this man for they believe him to be more progressive than the Lord would allow. There are others who harshly critique this man for they believe him to be more conservative than would please the Lord. I will not be among his critics.
So, to Paul Chappell, thank you for being you.
To my ministerial friends – I hope to see you this year at the Spiritual Leadership Conference in June!