25/25: 25 Things I Learned From My Dad's 25 Years at First Baptist Church Woodstock
Yesterday, my family and I had the incredible privilege of being at First Baptist Church Woodstock for my dad’s final Sunday on staff as Sr. Minister of Music & Worship. My dad and mom moved us up to Woodstock in 1994 and have served alongside Pastor Johnny and team at FBCW since then. As I reflected on these past 25 years, many memories flooded my mind and much gratitude filled my heart.
Below, I want to share 25 things that I’ve learned from watching my dad over these last 25 years. My prayer is that, whether you are in vocational ministry or not, you will be encouraged by his example!
1: Keep the MAIN THING the MAIN THING.
Dad has been a worship pastor my entire life, but more than that, he is a Christ-follower. I’ve watched he and my mom share the Gospel again and again and again. Proverbs 11:30 says, ‘he who wins souls is wise.’ I believe that much of my dad’s wisdom is derived from his obedience to engage people with the Gospel.
2: Follow God’s calling.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the story, but I can repeat it almost verbatim. When we were serving in Dothan, Alabama, dad saw a group of teenagers get off of several busses that appeared to be heading for the beach. Dad asked some of the students where they were from, and upon learning they were from FBC Woodstock, he asked them where Pastor Johnny was. Dad walked into a little Italian restaurant there in Dothan and introduced himself to Pastor Johnny, telling my mom afterwards that he felt God told him that day that, one day, he would work with Pastor Johnny. Years later, through some divine orchestration, dad ended up on a plane with Pastor Johnny headed to spend a week serving overseas. On the plane, dad shared what he felt God had spoken to him all those years earlier. It just so happened that the man who was serving as Minister of Music at Woodstock had resigned the week before. It wasn’t long after this trip that we moved up to Woodstock. What God had spoken to dad in Dothan all those years earlier had finally come to fruition…don’t ever give up on God’s call!
3: Empower others.
Although gifted, my dad would be the first to tell you that he isn’t the most-talented musician on the team at Woodstock. But to me, one of the things that’s made his ministry so effective is his willingness to let others lead. The brilliance of his leadership is in his willingness to work behind the scenes.
4: Dream BIG!
We arrived at Woodstock in May of 1994 and in December of that same year, we had the first-ever North Georgia Christmas Pageant. The NGCP (and eventually the Atlanta Christmas Musical) was one of my dad’s big dreams. He envisioned using a broadway-style Christmas program to reach people in the metro Atlanta area who might not attend a typical Sunday service. With the exception of a few years here and there, he has, for the last 25 years, led hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers to produce these incredible shows reaching thousands upon thousands of people with the Gospel.
5: Make ministry a family affair.
Leading worship at Woodstock was never just dad’s ministry — it was our ministry. He made sure of it. Even though my sister and I aren’t musically inclined, my parents always found ways for us to have ownership in what was happening. This helped us to grow up loving ministry rather than resenting it.
6: Invest in friendships.
Most of my dad’s best friends are the people he serves with in ministry. They vacation together, serve together, hang out together…this has made serving so enjoyable!
7: Make hard decisions.
Dad had to make some difficult decisions near the end of his time at Woodstock that would have been easy to pass on. He took some heat for making the tough choices, but that’s what good leaders do.
8: Stay faithful.
Dad has led well for many years. Many of his friends have fallen (morally) or faded out of ministry all together. I think he’s been able to finish this season well because of he has…
9: Cultivated freshness in personal walk.
As long as I can remember, dad’s been up earlier than everyone else studying God’s Word. A pattern I now find myself, as a dad, emulating. His willingness to wake up and get in God’s Word has helped him stay close and clean in his walk with the Lord.
10: Embrace change.
A LOT has changed over the years in the church music world. I’ve watched dad embrace and navigate through those changes with wisdom and grace. He’s not hopped from fad to fad, but he’s always been willing to try new things and listen to new ideas. His willingness to embrace change has helped him connect with a wide variety of people.
11: Create ownership opportunities.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about dad is how he looks for ways to give people ownership in his ministry. Ownership increases commitment and one reason so many have been committed for so long to the music and worship ministry at FBCW is because they’ve felt like owners.
12: Ministry is about PEOPLE.
Yesterday I watched a steady stream of people stand in line for hours to greet my parents and wish them well in this next phase of ministry. People don’t give up a Sunday afternoon to do that unless they’ve truly been impacted. My parents have always cared more about the people than the platform.
13: Make disciples.
Dad faithfully leads a D-Group throughout the year in which he’s walking with other men, teaching them how to develop spiritual disciplines like reading the Word and sharing their faith, all with the aim that these men could replicate their experience with others. Discipleship isn’t “his” ministry but it is his mission! He doesn’t lead a D-Group because he has to; he leads a D-Group because he’s passionate about making disciples who make disciples.
14: Be loyal.
I am confident that my dad would take a bullet for Johnny Hunt. He deeply loves Johnny as his pastor, but even more than that, as a friend. He’s always recognized that his role wasn’t about charting his own course of doing his own thing, but rather about supporting the overall vision of Pastor Johnny.
15: Build the Kingdom.
One thing I love about dad is that he is a Kingdom man! He’s never been so consumed with his work at Woodstock that he’s not been able to help and support and assist others in music ministry around the country.
16: Aim for excellence.
Dad has never been satisfied with average…he’s always strived to do things well in order to honor the Lord. Everything he does, he does with excellence because Jesus is worthy of our best!
17: Make ministry FUN.
I’m not sure I know anyone in ministry who has more fun than my dad. He laughs and jokes a lot, but this makes ministry fun and enjoyable. People love to serve with Scott White because they know it will be FUN!
18: Trust God.
Dad is stepping away from a very large and well-known ministry and was initially doing so with no idea of what was coming next. Not many guys would leave the prestige of a place like Woodstock for the unknown. BUT — dad was confident that God’s grace would sustain them in the interim and sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happened. Dad has embraced a new role that is literally created perfectly for him, but that role wasn’t an option until after he’d been obedient. I love the way Dr. Charles Stanley says it, ‘obey God and leave the consequences to Him.’ Dad does!
19: Don’t give up on people.
Ministry is messy…anyone in ministry knows that. Dad has, over the years, been so gracious towards those who have been hurtful towards him or who have fallen out of the ministry. In a day and time when moral failures seem to illicit cheers from folks who disagree with the theology or doctrine of the fallen, I’ve watched dad grieve over friends who have walked away from the Lord. I’ve watched him pursue them in an effort to point them back to Jesus.
This is lost on MANY in ministry. Dad valued rest. As a family, we always took time to get away. Mom and dad got to do things by themselves as well. This kept them strong and us strong as a family. It also helped him to remain emotionally and mentally and spiritually healthy along the way. AND - as I’ve learned after 10 years in ministry - rest is very much the extension of trusting in God and investing in others. It’s much easier to walk away from ministry and rest when you’re trusting in God and investing in others.
21: Be generous.
I don’t know of anyone more generous than my parents. They’ve made it a point to put Jesus first and passed that passion on to us. We’ve NEVER questioned whether or not we would be givers because mom and dad modeled that for us all of our lives.
22: Let your wife thrive in her calling.
My dad has always encouraged my mom to pursue her unique calling as a Bible teacher as well. Sometimes, her gifting and his overlapped, but other times, they didn’t. Dad never forced mom to serve in his ministry, she did that with joy. He also empowered her to use her gift of teaching and created space for her to do so. A wonderful picture of partnership in ministry!
23: Invest in quality time with your kids.
I have so many wonderful experiences with my dad growing up…going to sporting events, traveling, and more. I can remember playing football in high school…dad would come straight from work to stand along the fence and watch. The simple things matter. Many of these experiences over the years were made possible because of the generosity of others. Dad would often get a call from someone in the church who had tickets to a sporting event. They would offer those tickets to us (we couldn’t afford to go that often) and what a blessing that was. (Side note - if you are reading this, and you’re looking for a way to bless your pastor, do something like this for he and his family! I promise it will not go unnoticed!)
24: Let your kids run in their lane.
My dad never forced my sister and I to be musical or to pursue the same passions he had. He always encouraged us in our own pursuits.
25: Keep JESUS at the center!
Last, but certainly not least, the greatest lesson I’ve learned from my dad over these last 25 years in ministry is that everything, all of it, it’s all about Jesus. It’s about making His name known and walking in a way that will bring him glory.
I am so thankful for my dad’s example in ministry and hope that some of the lessons I’ve learned from over these last 25 years will be encouraging to you as well!