Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Fifteen Year Honeymoon for this Pastor's Family

Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma
Sunday, March 2, 1992 - Sunday, March 4, 2007

Fifteen years ago today, the first Sunday of March, Rachelle and I began our ministry at the greatest Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma. When we came our oldest child was in kindergarden and our youngest child had not yet been born. Now, fifteen years later our oldest is at Baylor in Waco and our youngest is in junior high. Our children will forever call Enid home.

I am reminded that in the old days pastors would often stay with their congregations for life. Spurgeon was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle for nearly four decades. John Gill was at Horsleydown for over fifty years. Benjamin Keach pastored his church for over fifty years as well. These 18th and 19th century English Baptist pastors are excellent models for those of us who are surrounded by modern examples of two year average pastorates in the United States.

The advantage of staying with a congregation for a long period of time is that you get to know families. You marry their children, you bury their parents. You are with God's people in both their good times and their bad times. You see people saved and you stay around long enough to see them lead others to Christ. You develop deep relationships that go beyond the surface. In fact, I am hard pressed to come up with any negatives for a long tenure of a pastor.

Of course, for a fifteen year ministry to feel like it is a continuing honeymoon, the people of the church have to be like those at Emmanuel The kindness, support and generosity of Emmanuelites to the Burleson family will never be forgotten nor able to be repaid. We carry our debt with gratitude, for as the Apostle Paul states, 'Owe no man anything save love.' The Burlesons make no bones about the fact we are in the deep debt of love to the people of Emmanuel.

I pray you have a wonderful Lord's day today. I know we will as we thank God for Emmanuel.

In His Grace,



Kevin Bussey said...


That is a great accomplishment for you and your church. I pray for many more to come.

Gary Snowden said...

Congratulations on your 15 years ministry in Enid.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Congratulations to you, your family and your church. Of all the things you have typed, your breakdown on longevity and the benefits is a much needed word for today!

Have a wonderful celebration!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Once upon a time, a young mother and wife, asked God to show her how to have a relationship with Him and His Son akin to David in the Psalms and a singer by the name of Keith Green. A few years later, this family moved to Enid, Oklahoma, and to Emmanuel Baptist Church where a few weeks later a young minister and his family began preaching on a regular basis. This young woman heard things that she had never heard before. After wrestling with God and the Bible over this, she came to see that God loved her despite, not because of. It changed her life first, then her husband and ultimately led them to teach their children grace. They began showing others grace and so on. That began fifteen years ago, since then many other families have been transformed in the same way. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for hearing God's call to come to Emmanuel. It will take the rest of our lives to hear more new teaching from God's Word. I hope it takes you and Rachelle a lifetime to teach it. :)

Anonymous said...

As blessed as you are to have Emmanuel, they are even more blessed to have you, a pastor who loves God's Word and is faithful to preach it.

I can't begin to explain to you how much your preaching ministry at Emmanuel (via RealPlayer) has helped me grow over the past year. May you have a wonderful Lord's Day. I look forward to listening the sermon you bring.

Anonymous said...

Serving as senior pastor of any church for any length of time is no small challenge; to do so for over 15 years--and to have the folks wanting you still to stay!--well, that definitely deserves congratulations!

May the Lord bless you and EBC-Enid with at least 15 more years together, so that your grandchildren also call it "home". I'll look forward to reading that 30th anniversary note from you at your blogsite!

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Anonymous said...

You are a great example! I pray that God will lead me to such a ministry when I am finished with my seminary training.


jasonk said...

Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of this fifteen year honeymoon will be your children, who see a proper example of what the bride of Christ is to look like. How the bride treats its shepherd can be an indication of how the shepherd's children will respond to her in the years to come.
I know you are thankful for that too. Congratulations on a major milestone. Enid is two hours away, and one day I'm going to get over there to hear you. said...

Thanks, friends, for all your comments. We appreciate each of them.

Thank you Debbie, especially, for your words. Those things said by people who have been with us in ministry for fifteen years mean a great deal.

J. Guy Muse said...

I too would add our congrats for the 15-years. Several months ago here I blogged about my own personal experience with Emmanuel and the impact this great church had on my life the one year our family furloughed in Enid. If you get a chance to read this please do so, in that EBC has been impacting people for decades and the ripples extend all the way to Ecuador, South America! said...

Thanks Guy for the link. I read your post with interest!


Clif Cummings said...

Your ministry impact at Emmanuel is beyond measure. Truly, only God knows! Most assuredly it has reached beyond the city of Enid and has touched the world.
I speak as one of a few who have had the privilege of serving on staff with Wade and then "going on" to other ministry opportunities. As a matter of fact, I think I am the only one who was on staff at EBC when he came who isn't still serving on staff with him! (Wade,correct me if I'm wrong.) THAT is another testimony of your spirit, your integrity, your loyalty and your leadership!
My short tenure with you touched my life and impacted my ministry like few others!

It is a privilege to know you as a friend and fellow servant in the Kingdom! Blessings to you & Rachelle and all your children and may God's grace continue to pour out like rain on your 15 year honeymoon!
See you in Arlington!


Clif Cummings said...

Allow me to correct myself. There was another staff member at EBC when Wade came as our pastor who has sensed moved on to another opportunity. However, I believe his words would be very similar to mine! (Barring further memory lapses - I think we are the only two??? :-) )

Clif said...


Thanks for the kind words!!



Bob Cleveland said...

I'll say congratulations and leave the thanks (for the years at Emmanuel) to the members. But I will say that perhaps the most noteworthy thing about your accomplishment, Wade, is that it's noteworthy.

We need a whole lot more like you, brother.

Bob Cleveland said...

Let me clarify: HEY I'm old. I'm entitled. I was referring to thanking you, not to the reason for your tenure.

Whoops .. I said "tenure". Hope I didn't jinx you, do a BadThing, etc....

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Fifteen years as pastor of the same church speaks well of both the congregation and the pastor.

Writer said...

Congratulations, Wade. It takes two (pastor & congregation) to persevere that long at one place. It sounds like the folks there are wonderful.

This is a word I need to hear today after a very difficult deacons meeting. Thanks so much.


RKSOKC66 said...


As others have said: Such a long tenure is a positive reflection on both the pastor and people.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

A. Lin said...

Fifteen years is certainly above average for a pastor to stay at one church. Something good must be happening. Congratulations on your 15 year tenure.

CB Scott said...

Everyone repeat after me;



Bob Cleveland said...

CB: I repeated it, but somehow this scripture comes to mind:

Joel 2:28" 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (NIV)

S.A.M. said...

Leadership that stays in place for the long haul is so important. I see so many churches that change leadership and pastors, and they continue to wonder why they do not grow or appeal to those outside their walls. There is no stability when leadership changes so often. My home church has its leadership in place and we have grown together all these years. They really seek God's will for growing His kingdom, and we are blessed to have such leadership, as your church body is blessed to have you. Congrats and keep it going!


Alyce Faulkner said...

Wade, congratulations to you, your family and the EBC family. It's been wonderful to observe here in a small way the relationship you have with EBC. I believe you are a man of great trust and loyalty and that always shows in relationships.

I often hear of pastors getting anonymous nasty notes on Monday morning and I wonder how in the world pastors deal with this. It breaks my heart. This said, I would like say to all you pastors that there are many who understand your calling, we pray for you every day, we pray for you as you are bringing forth the Word. We are WITH YOU. So, don't be discouraged. Preach On my brothers! I have learned so much from you.

Marty Duren said...

Congrats, Wade, Rachelle and family and Emmanuel!

B Nettles said...

What a wonderful example! It is a testimony to the strength of ministry the Lord gives by the in-depth preaching of Scripture in season and out of season. May you see the fruit of other faithful men who are able to teach others in stable ministries that last for decades, too.

Rex Ray said...

After 30 years, I’m back in a small country church where I was a charter member in 1944. It still runs about the same number of 60 in SS. I’m working on its church history for our dedication service (95% completed) of a 20,400 sq. ft. new church a few feet from the old one. (Have plans to connect them.) We’re the closest members to the church. (About ¼ mile away.)
The church has had 23 pastors, so that’s averages 2.7 years per pastor. Some have been SWTC students that would drive up for the week-end. The church has been a stepping stone for preachers going to larger churches.
Our present pastor of six months (who is 38) was its pastor for 5 years, 8 years ago. He hopes with the community growing to fill the church up and spend the rest of his life here. More power to him.

Wade, I’m glad your longevity will continue to grow. The best pastor I had was the one I’d known the longest.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

I am always excited to hear of a pastor having a long tenure. I am pastoring my first church -- been here for 22 1/2 year. I wish you would consider doing a post entitled: Keys to having a long tenure in the local church. I am going to write a paper on that topic. I would like to hear what you have to say on the subject.

Gene Price
Gleason, Tennessee

OC Hands said...

Congratulations on your anniverary celebration. You and your church are to be congratulated and commended for working together for these many years.
We thank God for you and for the impact you and your church are making in your city and around the world. May your tribe increase.

Anonymous said...

And what a blessing of a church family it is and how blessed they are to have you as their shepherd. Praise God for His grace in you staying there even when some would make different plans.

Jacob Jones said...

Congratulations! My wife and I also had our first church anniversary at the greatest church in Oklahoma.

the sojourning pilgrim said...


From across the street, I congratulate you on this milestone in your ministry in Enid. All of God's best to you in the future.

Dr. Richard Dunn

Ken said...


I have read your blog with great interest and admiration. I am proud to tell my Southern Baptist colleagues that you are the pastor of my "home" church. Tell Dan and Donna Heath hello from me.

Ken Gabrielse - New Orleans, LA

Anonymous said...


I am so sorry to be coming late to this party, but I have been running ragged keeping up this traveling preacher I have in town this week.

Bless you and yours and bless your church. I pray that I may have fifteen years and more of what you have experienced with Emmanuel.

One question. Why are you holding up two "Hook 'em Horns" signs?

Did you finally give up on the Sooners? ;)