FRESNO – “I never expected to be doing what I’m doing, and I’m very grateful,” Charles McClung says.
Seventeen years ago, Charles joined the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) leadership team, and today serves the Convention as ministry evangelism specialist and consultant in the Healthy Church Group.
“My folks moved nine times in the first nine years of my life,” Charles said. “Most of those moves were in Oklahoma with one move to California when I was 4. At the age of 8, my family moved home to Seminole, Oklahoma. When I was 9, we all got saved – my mom, dad and me.”
Shortly thereafter, the McClung family moved back to Southern California where Charles felt called to the ministry.
“I was 11 years old, and I didn’t know what that decision meant except that people said it was a call to preach,” Charles remembered. “I reconfirmed that call on my life as a teenager and enrolled in California Baptist College.”
Charles earned a bachelor’s degree in history and Bible from California Baptist College (now University) in Riverside, and a master of divinity degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley.
Upon his seminary graduation, First Baptist Church in Parker, Arizona called Charles as their pastor.
“Parker is on the Colorado River, 40 miles north of Blythe and 16 miles south of Lake Havasu,” Charles recalled. “That first summer the temperature was 120 degrees. That’s the church that ordained me. That church gave me my first of everything. It was a mission church, so I did double time on preaching. I was preaching three sermons on Sunday, and usually they were all three different.”
Charles got his first taste of resort ministry at Parker when 50,000 people would descend on the area annually for fishing, water skiing and other recreational pursuits.
Two-and-a-half years later, Mountain View Baptist Church in Sunland called Charles as pastor. Sunland is in California’s San Fernando Valley. After pastoring Mountain View for almost 14 years, San Fernando Valley Southern Baptist Association called Charles to be director of missions. The association’s mission included hunger and chaplaincy ministries.
Charles served the association for 11 years before God moved him to a large baby-boomer church in Palmdale and then to interim positions at Faith Baptist Church in Santa Barbara and Church of the Crossroads in Oxnard. In May 1998, Lonnie Chavez, state missions division director who has since retired, asked Charles to join CSBC as director of missions ministry, which later became part of the Healthy Church Group.
“When Lonnie retired,” Charles said, “they moved me into evangelism because that’s what we do. Mission ministry really is evangelism.”
His primary assignment with CSBC as ministry evangelism specialist is to support and supervise three field personnel: one chaplain liaison and two community ministry specialists. He also is responsible for managing and distributing requests for hunger funds that come to California from the North American Mission Board, and for annually coordinating the ministry of summer missionaries. As a healthy church consultant, Charles is available to assist churches to focus their direction and values as they develop the mission and vision of their church.
“I never saw myself doing this,” Charles says. “However, upon reflecting, I see that the Lord has given me wide experience to prepare me for these responsibilities. Out of that experience and my own heart for shepherding, I enjoy caring for the missionaries, encouraging them, trying to be an advocate for them, helping them and counseling them.”
When Charles has time, he enjoys playing golf and surfing.
“I used to surf a lot,” Charles said, “but I have not done much during the last seven years even though I own surfboards. When I was pastoring in Palmdale there was a young man that I was mentoring who was a surfer. He asked me if I would like to learn, and I’m still learning. I have a board that is 10 feet long, but I’m a wannabe suffer. It takes a lot of upper body strength, so instead of hopping on the board … I crawl.”
Charles feels that the greatest challenge to a busy ministry is learning to balance your time with sensitivity and organization so time is not wasted and family needs are met.
Charles and his wife, Laura, have two children and four granddaughters.
Thank you, California Southern Baptists!
“Thank you, California Southern Baptists, for being a mission-minded convention of mission-minded churches. Thank you for being willing to give generously so that we can help you help the world come to Christ.”
Charles’ challenge to God’s people:
“One of my favorite Bible verses is: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me’ (John 15:5, HCSB). That verse is a constant reminder that I cannot do anything without God.
“In 1970, God challenged me to read the Bible every year; so, I’ve been doing that for 45 years. There are many Bibles and devotionals available today to help people read through the scriptures. I encourage you to read the Bible through this year.”
Charles asks your prayers for God’s…
- Wisdom to assist the field missionaries as they work with CSBC churches to reach their communities.
- Guidance as Charles helps Convention pastors and their churches to become healthy and to help them determine God’s vision for their churches.
- Faithfulness so Charles will be ready at all times to share the gospel with those around him.
Charles praises God for…
- The leadership team at CSBC and especially for Dr. Whittaker who desires to see people saved and churches strengthened.
- The CSBC field missionaries who have a passion to serve God by serving others.
- Answers to prayer and for lives changed in magnificent ways.
Did you know?
LifeWalk: Through the Bible Every Year, by LifeWay Christian Resources, is a devotional magazine that includes charts, insights and special features to enhance daily devotions and encourage personal application of spiritual truths – www.lifeway.com.
Ministry Evangelism Specialist
California Southern Baptist Convention
678 East Shaw Avenue
Fresno CA 93710