By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT – Shortly after graduating from seminary in early 2013, Greg Shyne found himself at a crossroads in his spiritual life.
His pastor had passed away and Shyne was searching for where God wanted him to serve.
That’s when a meeting with fellow pastors and with Lane Moore, the Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association director of missions, led to a vision from the Lord–he would join the Southern Baptist Convention and start United Outreach Church.
“When I heard the stories in that meeting, the Lord gave me a vision of starting a new work,” said Shyne, recently honored as Northern Exemplary Bi-vocational Pastor of the Year. “God has been so good to us and we pray that He continues to give us the vision of where to go.”
United Outreach Church, one of 78 new churches receiving Cooperative Program funding through the Louisiana Baptist Convention, is a congregation on the move.
The church was born on Nov. 3, 2013, when 28 people attended the first official worship service in Shyne’s Shreveport home. In a month, to accommodate its growth, the church moved the worship services to a Holiday Inn Express. The church continued to grow so rapidly it needed a new place to worship just two months later.
The congregation now averages 265 on Sunday mornings in its current location, a former Seventh Day Adventist church building in Shreveport.
They baptized 50 in 2014 and more than 30 so far during 2015, and there are plans to move to the former Ingleside Baptist Church nearby to allow for more growth.
Shyne credits the increase to God leading the church to utilize the “each one, reach one” strategy. Every church member is asked to identify one person in their family who is not a Christian or who has not attended a worship service in a while.
United Outreach sends weekly invitations to those who are new in the area, inviting them to worship and offering to meet their ministry needs.
In 2016, the congregation hopes to conduct door-to-door outreach in the area around their future home.
The leadership team also uses social media to reach community members.
Events are posted on Facebook, and a clip of Shyne’s sermon is available which directs people to the entire sermon on the church website.
Other outreach efforts include adopting families for Christmas, working with the Salvation Army and volunteering at the Shreveport/Bossier Rescue Mission.
“We try to be personal and have that family concept,” Shyne said. “People not only want to be loved but they want a family.”
Shyne credits a supportive family and congregation for helping him effectively lead as pastor, while he also works at the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court office, where he has been employed the past 31 years.
He tries to show up whenever a need of a church member arises, but when his secular job does not allow it, he utilizes a team of leaders who intercede on his behalf.
Moreover, his leaders regularly pray for him, including Sunday mornings before the worship service begins.
“I can’t do this on my own,” he said. “I train leaders. I show them how to embrace people.”
“It takes team work to make the dream work,” Shyne continued. “When we all work together as a team, the church works perfectly as a well-oiled machine to get the job done.”
Shyne said he also draws strength from his wife, Lisa, and their children.
“You cannot do this work without the support of your wife and family,” he said. “It can be easy to neglect the family. Every week I do something with them. We stay in God’s Word, showing an example to our church by remaining unified so they can have an example to follow.”
Shyne offers several pieces of advice to anyone praying about entering vocational ministry:
— Make sure the calling to be a pastor is genuine.
“Not everyone is called to be a pastor,” Shyne said. “Some are called to preaching or evangelism, but not pastoring.”
— Find a mentor or group of fellow pastors such as those in a local Baptist association to serve as a support system.
“My mentor, Dr Austin Tucker, has been with me since I got the call,” Shyne said. “He is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that I need and will continue to need throughout my years of pastoring. You need that someone who has been down that road before who will help you.”
— Enroll in seminary and take advantage of continuing educational opportunities.
“Every preacher needs some form of seminary,” he said. “There are some things you need to know about ministry that you can’t learn just by showing up.”
— Be transparent with the congregation.
“One thing that I think boosted my ministry is when people come to the church, I make it my business to get to know them,” he said. “That has paid dividends in relating to them as their pastor. They know who I am and that I can be trusted.”