Anthony Mangun and I are not great friends. I'm not sure either of us have the time or temperament to have many "great friends." Pastor Mangun is someone I admire, and from whom I have learned a lot.
What I've acquired came through observation and paying close attention to the principles that Pastor Anthony uses rather than duplicating his application. For those who want to learn, a lot of knowledge can be gained by simply observing, listening, and thinking, "How can I apply that concept?"
Before following in his parents' footsteps as a pastor in Alexandria, Louisiana; Anthony Mangun had been an effective evangelist and pastor. He created an identity distinct from that of his father and mother. When he became pastor, it was a continuation of the same concepts in ministry.
I have always felt it significant that Anthony Mangun created a clear ministerial identity distinct from his parents. This last observation can be revealing when considering generational transitions in local church leadership.
Since what I have learned from Brother Anthony comes from observation, I have only seen the main ideas and characteristics.
- Be passionate: Brother Anthony's messages, whether for the local church or for a conference, are always about a topic he can speak about with immense passion. There is fire in his preaching. It is as though there is a need to participate in the cause he has communicated. His passion is not built for the platform and pulpit, his passion is lived! Brother Anthony cares passionately for the people he shepherds and the lost in the city of Alexandria. His best preaching takes place right there, at the Pentecostals of Alexandria, as should be the case for all shepherds.
- Be prepared: This pastor provides a good meal every time he preaches or teaches. This happens through constant reading, study, preparation, and prayer. For two years, Pastor Mangun and I served together on the Executive Board and General Board of the United Pentecostal Church, International. On several occasions, Pastor Mangun would be reading, or preparing a message on his iPad while we were in a "stagnant place" at a board meeting. Prepared people never stop reading and studying. Take advantage of every moment available to prepare.
- Do Church with Excellence: One of the most beneficial lessons came at a conference event when Anthony and Mickey Mangun showed us how church services go awry. The keyboardist was not in place at starting time. The guitar needed a bit of tuning. The service started late. When it did start the musicians and singers were in different keys. When it was time for the soloist, they were not on or near the platform. What the Manguns modeled was mediocrity. The church service was a disaster.
There was never a service in Alexandria where the church service was not thought out and preparation made. I am not talking about a forced or restricted service. The Holy Spirit interrupts quite often. There is an exuberance of worship; but no wasted words, dead time and confusion - the service flows.
When the Manguns did this little exercise, I didn't pastor more than 60 people but went straight home and started using the planning model they had shared.
Excel - plan every service as if twice the usual audience were going to be there. Even if there are only ten in physical attendance, there are actually eleven in the audience. Those ten and the Lord Jesus Christ always deserve your best.
- Being systematic is not a sin: A big impact was made when Pastor Mangun shared that he had 20 topics on which he tried to preach 2 times a year. Not only did he have this as a goal in the back of his mind, but he also had a chart on which he marked the dates when he preached on those topics. I went home and using almost the same 20 themes, developed my own form. The structure, kept me preaching and teaching a good diet to those I pastored. Just like every preacher, I have topics I’d rather preach about. But there are other messages the audience needs to hear. A free download of my form is available here.
· Work ethic: This man works hard - too hard. A church that has 3,000 people results in many counseling appointments. If you look behind the scene, Brother Anthony, his wife, his mother, and other members of the pastoral team spend much time preaching funerals, conducting wedding ceremonies and the other myriad tasks of pastoral ministry.
. . . . but they still make at least one Christmas visit to people who cannot leave their homes (due to age or illness) and to those who are in retirement homes.
Some imagine that being a full-time pastor means a great deal of free time. It is simply not so. From this man I learned that it is necessary to maintain regular office hours and be consistently available. To clock in for a minimum of 50 hours of work each week. To do less, is giving God less than He deserves. I’d be robbing God of the time He’d paid me to shepherd.
It would be better to stop being a full-time pastor and go to work in any other field. If you're a full-time pastor, give God and the people you lead at least 50 hours per week! Work hard!
I know some of you have had the privilege of working closer to Brother Anthony. I am interested in the knowledge that you "took away!" Please share them in the comments section.
Something else I learned from the Pentecostal of Alexandria was the value of having an intentional effort to convert people to disciples. Over three decades ago, I heard one of the local church leader's in Alexandria talk about the church's disciple-making strategy.
Roger Skluzacek (that spelling is probably wrong - my apologies Roger) shared compelling information on how to retain converts. I knew that my preaching could not match that of Pastor Mangun, and we certainly did not have the talent or finance to do some of the things being done in Alexandria.
But, this was within my grasp. I could set up and carry out an effort to keep those we won to God. It became something of an obsession. There had to be more than classes and a smile. Starting in Vidalia and continuing on to Truth Tabernacle in Springfield, MO my focus became on keeping those we won.
A free download of my eBook - The How and Why of New Convert Care is available here. You will discover that making disciples is the work product of the New Testament church. Are you keeping those you win? It seemed the Lord once whispered to me, "If you are not taking care of the one spiritual baby I've sent your way, why should I send you ten?"