November 19, 2008Article By: Suzanne R. Holsomback
Throughout Scott Shelton's life, youth leaders, family, and friends said to him, "You are going to be a great minister someday." Scott would force a smile and say, "Just because I am serious about my faith does not mean that I am going to go into the ministry." As Scott finished his business degree at Stephen F. Austin State University, he and his wife, Stephanie, began to question their plan of working in the business world and living faithful for Christ.
While questioning the move into the business world, Scott cautiously applied to two seminaries, one being George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Truett preview, applications, essays, praying and waiting followed and the Sheltons decided that seminary was not an option. However, the next day Scott received a letter in the mail offering him a full tuition scholarship to Truett. Laughing, Scott says, "We changed our twenty-four hour plans and said we are going to go to seminary, so we came here."
Entering seminary and a completely different field of study shook Scott deeply. He says the first few months were a struggle and that it was probably the scholarship that kept him at Truett. But as the year progressed, Scott grew in his personal understanding of biblical analysis, church history, theology, and missiology. He says blending the conversations, teachings, and ideas from his Missions and World Christianity concentration with the core seminary education allowed him to see how he could live his life as a missionary wherever he and Stephanie lived.
A turning point came in Scott's life when in the fall of 2005, Kyle Lake, a local Waco pastor, suddenly passed away. Scott remembers thinking about Kyle's impact and influence in the Waco community and how similar their life paths were. Scott could see himself in Kyle - Truett graduate, husband, father, minister. Those reflections lead him to want "to be called to something that is making a difference in people's lives now." He called Truett and found a ministerial position at First Baptist Church in Lorena as a Student Minister where he could make a difference while still in seminary.
"I fell in love with the church, but even more than that, I really felt called there," says Scott. He worked through the rest of seminary and began looking to the future once again as he finished Truett in December of 2007. Scott relates there is usually a push to leave the small churches after seminary and move to a larger church, but he felt uneasy about leaving Lorena. After praying and talking with a discernment group of close friends and professors, Scott decided to stay. "I was able to tell the congregation that we want to stay here, no matter what [they did] with my salary, we trust God is going to work it out. We were responsible with that."
Three years have passed since Scott accepted the FBC Lorena position and he says he has seen year three flourish. Roots have taken hold and ministries are blossoming. He has had opportunities to be present or speak into situations, step up and take the lead, and live faithfully in a variety of situations. He says he can see people trust him and his commitment. Parents and students are more willing to engage in ministries because they see his investment.
Reflecting on student ministry, Scott says he wants to ask the students questions about "how can we interact as followers of Christ in Lorena High School and Lorena Middle School and then ultimately wherever else God calls us." One of Scott's ministry goals is to take the students on mission trips where their worldviews will be enriched through meeting orphans and interacting with extreme poverty. "I always say, while they are at college studying I want these images of kids in poverty, kids whose parents have died, kids whose parents have completely rejected them to be burned in their minds to where they cannot get away from that, cannot escape that and they have to be asking on some level, 'how does Jesus impact even there?' And so they can go be lawyers...go to the best school, go to graduate school, do all these things...go get a great job...but maybe go work in an urban area as a defense lawyer and get paid diddily squat."
"My hope is that these images will burn in their minds and they will go to medical school and do all of those things, but they will not just become these people who live their lives and just sustain themselves, but become people that really interact with the kingdom." Scott believes in the students he works with and comments that ministry in Lorena has been enjoyable and a blessing to him and his family. He says he enjoys being part of "helping people see that God is bigger than Lorena, bigger than Waco, bigger than Texas, bigger than the United States." Smiling he says, "Hopefully we are doing that."