FRESNO – “I spent most of my freshman and sophomore years in college doing battle with God,” Mike McCullough recalls. “Some would say it was rebellion, but it wasn’t. I was always involved in church and Bible study, but I questioned who was really in charge of my life. It was a daily battle – pushing and shoving – until, finally, I decided it was God’s business to win.”
In 1998, Mike joined California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) as associate executive director. He works closely with the executive director in managing the operations of the Convention and its staff, and he signs legal documents as CSBC’s chief operating officer.
Mike also serves CSBC as leader of the Missions Discipleship Group. As such, he directs the unit’s ministries and is responsible for the promotion of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ primary missions support plan. He came to CSBC with a varied ministry experience.
Mike and his two sisters were born in Texas to Christian parents. When he was in first grade, Mike’s father, a sales representative, moved his family to Toronto, Canada. It was while living in Canada that Mike accepted Jesus as his Savior.
“When I was in the fifth grade, my family decided to go to Quebec on vacation,” Mike recalled. “However, since I got carsick, they decided to send me off to a secular camp – Camp Skeleton. It was a boys’ camp where we stayed in platform tents. Our counselors were college co-eds, which was kind of weird, but that co-ed shared her faith with us every night. She led me to a personal relationship with Jesus.”
The McCullough family stayed in Canada for five years, then moved first to Chicago and then back to Texas.
It was while attending Texas A&M University at College Station that Mike decided it was God’s business to win and turned his life over to God’s leadership. He became deeply involved with the Baptist Student Union, and spent the summer between his junior and senior year as a summer missionary.
“I wanted to go to Hawaii to do beach ministry,” Mike said, “and then I wanted to go up to Minnesota-Wisconsin to do construction ministry. But, God sent me about 70 miles away to the Texas Baptist Children’s Home at Round Rock, Texas.
“Those kids came with all sorts of difficulties in their lives,” Mike continued. “That summer I did all kinds of activities with them including taking them to camp. It was a great summer, and during that time, I felt God’s strong call to full-time ministry.”
That call to ministry led Mike to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. While there, he spent two years as a Home Mission (Now North American Mission) Board intern at Broadway Baptist Church in downtown Fort Worth. He worked in community ministries doing what he had always wanted to do. They provided for the homeless, offered well-child clinics and held after-school clubs for children and youth.
“That is where I cut my teeth in terms of really working with people in need and having opportunities to share Christ in those kinds of settings,” Mike said.
From Southwestern, Mike went to Louisiana State University (LSU) for a master’s degree in social work. There, he did intern work in the welfare system, and quickly discovered he was not cut out for casework as a social worker.
“We probably all remember times when the path that we think we are going down isn’t the path that God is leading us down,” Mike said. “Where I thought that I was headed is not where God was going to lead. However, the whole social work experience was beneficial. It taught me about community organization, working within systems and how to connect people to resources and churches to ministries. Those are some of the things that I do today.”
After finishing LSU, Mike taught social work and counseled at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley. While working at Golden Gate, Mike met his wife, Sarah, a California girl from Livermore. She has a religious education degree from the seminary.
Prior to coming to CSBC in 1998, the Nevada Baptist Convention called Mike to do ministry evangelism. His responsibility was to teach churches how to reach beyond their walls to meet people's needs as a means of sharing Christ.
While with the Nevada Convention, he spent 15 years as editor of their state paper. He also served as assistant to the executive director, and did most of the administrative work for the convention.
“California Southern Baptists are in the midst of great change. My vision for our Convention is that we seek God’s plan and priorities for reaching the 33 million in California without Jesus. We need more churches. We need healthy churches. We need aggressive and intentional evangelism. We need strong leaders. We need churches on mission for God. And we need bold giving and courageous cooperation for sharing Jesus with our world.”
“This year has been a significant one for the Missions Discipleship Group,” stressed McCullough, who leads this ministry. “Our group has reshaped our focus to helping congregations with discipling all their members so they are ready to be sent by God into the world as His witnesses. I believe every church must be engaged in missions discipleship. How else will their members be ready to be sent in His name?”
Mike and Sarah have had two children, a married son and a daughter. Their daughter, Maggie, died at age 11 in 1992. They attend Woodward Park Baptist Church in Fresno.
Mike’s message to California Southern Baptists:
“The task that God has given us is to make sure that every single person in California be given the opportunity to say yes to Jesus. We must be faithful and obedient to the task of praying, going, sharing and giving for missions in California and around the world.
In that obedience, we give cooperatively so that missionaries across our world can carry that opportunity to those without Jesus. Nevertheless, God gave the task to all of us. Let us stay obedient to His Word, faithful to the task, and bold in our witness to our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors.”
Pray for the missions discipleship group, led by Mike.
Pray for all CSBC congregations to renew their commitment to missions and preparing their members to be sent in His name.
Pray that Mike will remain faithful to his responsibilities at home, church and CSBC.
Pray that Mike will remain faithful to the study and teaching of God’s Word.
Pray for Mike’s son and daughter-in-law as they seek God’s direction in their life.
Pray for Sarah, Mike’s wife, as she supports Mike and is responsive to the ministry God has given her in teaching college students at their church.
Pray that those who study under Mike’s leadership in Sunday school and Bible study will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I praise God for allowing me to serve in California. God is so good.
I praise God for California Southern Baptists who are giving sacrificially during these times of economic stress.
I praise God for California Southern Baptists who give faithfully to world mission causes, especially the California Mission Offering.
I praise God for family and for Lachlan and Murdock, my grandsons.
Can you picture it?
“The soil is especially ripe for church growth among people who have suffered hardships, both physical and spiritual, or spiritual deadness that comes in an area with little Christian influence.
“Into this soil steps the missionary with a humble heart, often working behind the scenes to establish and encourage local leadership.
“Can you picture it?
“Churches planting churches, ‘raising holy hands’ to God in the face of all odds, an unstoppable force of fearless praise and passion that overflows its banks. A flood that couldn’t be stopped even if we wanted to. It’s happening. But you’ve got to be there to see it.” (“Church Planting Movements” produced by the International Mission Board)
Associate Executive Director
California Southern Baptist Convention
678 East Shaw Avenue
Fresno, CA 93710
559.229.9533 x. 251