“I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. I’m not impressive. I’m a pastor. I care about my people and my church. I care about our community.” I got to know Mike Titsworth at the Arkansas Prayer Summit this year and I’d say his self-description is accurate. Mike isn’t flashy. He’s approachable and down-to-earth. No dress shirt and slacks for him. Mike is more of a jeans and short-sleeve button-up guy. And as a pastor, this shepherd cares about those inside his flock and the lost sheep outside of it.
At a picnic table outside the Mountain Crest Cabin at New Life Ranch, Mike told me about his journey to the pastorate. He was born in Star City, a small town in South Arkansas you’ll miss it if you blink while passing through it. Growing up, Mike and his family moved around because his father pastored churches in Hampton, Malvern and Benton. Mike was saved and baptized at Trinity Baptist Church in Benton.
Because he dealt with sinus problems, Mike’s parents thought the air out west would do him some good. Mike attended Grand Canyon College (now Grand Canyon University) in Pheonix. Mike wanted to study biology. Becoming a pastor wasn’t on his radar. While in college a friend of Mike’s asked him to help with music while he preached in churches, Salvation Armies and anywhere they’d accept them. One day his friend didn’t show up to preach and Mike ended up being the backup. This son of a preacher man took to preaching and, as it turns out, enjoyed it.
GETTING IN THE GAME
Out of the blue, Desert West Methodist Church contacted Mike about being their youth pastor. Before he took the job, he visited one of the church’s Sunday schools. After arriving, the leader of the group told Mike, “I didn’t prepare anything for today. You’re going to be the next youth pastor. Why don’t you say something?” Once again Mike had gotten the call from the “sidelines” to get in the game.
“The Lord had a hand in all that,” Mike told me in his deep southern drawl. It soon became clear that God was calling Mike to surrender to the ministry. And that Mike did. After attending Golden Gate Seminary in San Francisco and graduating from Southwestern in Ft. Worth, Mike—like his father before him—moved around in ministry, from White Settlement, TX, to Henderson, Lake Village and Hamburg, AR.
Eventually, Mike got the call to return to the church where he gave his life to the Lord, Trinity Baptist. Mike has been there for 17 years and is still amazed by the many doors God opened up for ministry, both in the familiar confines of Saline County and overseas in far-off places like Thailand, the Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and South Africa. Mike shared one important lesson he’s learned from his time overseas. “I tell folks that if what I’m teaching and preaching doesn’t work around the world, it isn’t true. If it doesn’t apply to everybody, it’s not true.”
At the time of the interview, Mike and his church were getting ready for a four-day event they called Rediscovering Joy. The Spirit is on the move in a special way right now in our country with rumblings of spiritual awakening and the people of Trinity Baptist are seizing the opportunity to reach those in their community. Mike’s prayer these days is, “Lord, move in a fresh and renewing way in the midst of our extreme moral decline. You’re going to bring revival or we’re going off the deep end. Lord, move!”
RIPE FOR HARVEST
If there’s a field ripe for harvest, it’s Saline County. It’s one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and Mike sees the call to evangelize and make disciples there as a serious one. “We’ve got to be serious about doing ministry where we are. It’s all up to the Lord but I expect great things to happen.”
Mike also believes our churches must come together in extraordinary prayer. “There’s a greater sense of oneness in the body when we pray together, a greater sense of expectation that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). “There’s a spirit of unity that comes when God’s people are united in prayer before the throne,” Mike told me. “When we pray and ask, God moves.”
THE POWER OF UNITING IN PRAYER
After the interview, I asked Mike to answer three questions to help his fellow pastors see the significance and value of the Prayer Summit. Here’s what Mike shared with me:
Why attend the Prayer Summit?
It is an opportunity to fellowship and pray with brothers from various churches with different backgrounds and ministries across both denominational and racial lines which is a powerful reminder of our true unity in Christ. It is a reminder to me of my own need to keep the focus of ministry on the kingdom beyond local ministry commitments as well as being a chance to have my own heart for the Lord stirred by the hearts of others seeking to serve the Lord in their own ministries. In addition to all of that, it is the encouragement of being able to pray for others who share in both the joys and challenges of ministry these days with a chance to also have them pray for me also.
How do pastors benefit from the Prayer Summit?
From previous experiences with my own son who was on staff with me for a couple of years, I can share that he had begun to grow cynical about ministers and ministry. The authenticity he experienced at the Prayer Summit was used of the Lord to renew his faith in the Lord and his faith in the Church. The Lord has definitely used these Prayer Summits to connect more personally with others and renew my faith and prayer life.
What encouragement can you give pastors to attend future Prayer Summits?
The Prayer Summit is a chance to enjoy some personal time with the Lord as well and allow the Lord to speak to your heart through the sharing of others willing to share and pray with you personally. And it is an opportunity to learn how to better lead others within the church in meaningful seasons of prayer.
We are thankful for the exceptional work of Mike Titsworth at Trinity Baptist and for all the churches in our city that are uniting believers in extraordinary prayer and working toward a genuine unity that displays the love of Christ. They’re helping the whole Church grow.
Christopher Loux | Communications Director, CityChurch Network