Greg Heisler answers call as Mount Vernon's new pastor
by Sherrie Norris
Greg Heisler, formerly of
Franklinton, has accepted
the call of senior pastor at
Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, after eight years as associate professor
of preaching and speech at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake
His first official sermon in
Boone was delivered to capacity crowds in both Sunday morning services on Aug.
"The Lord began stirring in
my heart about two years ago about returning to the local church," Heisler
said. "Seminary was very rewarding, but one thing I missed greatly about the
local church was the relationships I enjoyed as a pastor. I did several
interim pastorates while I served as a seminary professor, and those were
confirmation, from God, that it was time for me to go back to the pastorate."
The Mount Vernon church
family couldn't be happier, said Chris Weeks, who chaired the pastoral search
"Greg is a gifted minister
and we are excited to work alongside him in ministry," Weeks said. "But, that
excitement comes primarily from the assurance that Greg was who God had chosen,
and we trust that God's ways are perfect."
Weeks said when the process
of finding a new pastor began in July, 2011, the committee was "overwhelmed"
with the responsibility of its task.
"But, that feeling of
inadequacy really drove us to our knees in prayer," he said, "and for the
entire year that we worked together, we began every meeting on our knees in
prayer, confessing our dependence on God for the outcome."
Those prayers, joined with those of the church body, were the key to the process, he said.
"We began to understand our job, not as figuring out who the best candidate was, but as allowing God to show us who He had already chosen," he said.
As the process began, the
team engaged the church family, which, Weeks said, "Allowed God to speak
through their feedback and show us what our congregation needed in a pastor."
The committee met with
several applicants. "But, when we met with Greg, it was clear that he fit the
profile in every way -- from his absolute commitment to preaching and teaching
the full counsel of God's word, to his conviction of the importance of being
involved as shepherd of the people -- life on life -- and his commitment to
missions and evangelism," Weeks said. "We saw, clearly, how God was working
from both sides to bring us together in ministry."
Heisler said "several
things" attracted him to Mt. Vernon.
"First, they believe the
Bible is God's Word, and they were looking for someone committed to expository
preaching. Over and over again, the search team said they needed a strong
preacher of God's Word. I am not in the pulpit to preach my opinions -- I
am there to preach God's word. People come hungry to worship wanting to
hear a Word from God, and I have the pleasure as God's called servant of
feeding them each week," he said. "What a privilege."
Secondly, Heisler said, "The
church is totally sold out to 'great commission' ministries -- Mount Vernon
is literally all over the world. Pastor Allan Blume, my predecessor, did
an outstanding job of keeping the church focused on missions and on reaching
the world for Christ."
"Thirdly, the church looks
to the senior pastor's leadership," Heisler said. "One of the things I missed,
while a seminary professor, was leading. Our deacons at Mount Vernon have
blessed me so much already by letting me know they are 100 percent behind me as
I lead the church into the future God has for us. There is a sweet spirit
of unity at Mount Vernon -- it was there
before I got there, and by God's grace, we will keep it."
Heisler's vision for Mount
Vernon is simple, he said. "That God would continue to use us to be a blessing
to Boone and the world as we share the good news of Jesus Christ. I want
Mount Vernon to be a Jesus Place."
Although he was not raised
in a Christian home, he was greatly influenced by his girlfriend during high
school, he said.
"While attending church with her for several
months, I came under the conviction of my sin and believed Jesus Christ was the
only remedy for my sin because of his death on the cross and his resurrection
from the grave. On January 20, 1991, I repented of my sin and trusted Christ as
my Lord and Savior at Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Maryville, Tenn."
"After two years of spiritual growth in my
Christian faith, the Lord called me and my fiancÚ into full-time Christian
service during a revival meeting, in 1993," he said. "In preparation for this
call, I enrolled at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995."
In February 1996, he
surrendered to God's call to preach."
In obedience to the call, he
said, he began to pastor Vine Run Baptist Church while enrolled in seminary. "I
also completed the Ph.D. in preaching at Southern to further sharpen my
understanding of preaching."
Heisler acknowledges that he
has been blessed with the gifts of preaching, teaching, and leading. "And God
has given me a shepherd's heart for the church.
I am looking forward to serving Him as a local church pastor once again,
for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom."
He received his doctor of
philosophy in Christian Preaching in 2003; he earlier completed his master of
divinity in missions, evangelism and church growth in 1998, after receiving his
bachelor of arts in religion in 1995. He was ordained to preach at Madison
Avenue Baptist Church on March 3, 1997.
In addition to his tenure at
Southeastern, Heisler taught at New
Orleans Baptist Seminary, at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., and has authored
numerous publications, including "Spirit-Led Preaching: The Holy Spirit's Role
in Sermon Preparation and Delivery," which was named "Preaching Book of the
Year, (Christianity Today's Preaching).
Prior to, and while serving
on the faculty at Southeastern, Heisler has preached in many churches, revival
services and conferences. He has held various roles as pastor, interim pastor
and leader of numerous ministries
Heisler is considered an
expert teacher in areas of Christian preaching, hermeneutics, (the art and
science of text interpretation), Biblical studies, evangelism, church growth,
worldview studies and pastoral ministry studies.
Heisler and his wife, Laura, have two sons, Andrew, 14, and Benjamin, 12. He enjoys watching sports, playing golf, working out and quality time with his family.