When Dr. John Rice decided to leave Wheaton, Illinois, and move the Sword of the Lord, it came down to two possible locations, Hammond, Indiana, or Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Dr. Hyles strongly believed that Hammond would have been the better place to relocate. He was the Assistant Editor of the Sword, and even scheduled Dr. Rice’s meetings for him.
I have always done what God has led me to do. I have never felt the need to ask permission. When God lays a burden on my heart I have always believed it was my duty to respond and do what I can for the cause of Christ, even if others did not approve.
I loved Dr. Jack Hyles and I loved Hyles-Anderson College, but I felt there was a need for a college in East Texas to train preacher boys. Dr. Hyles was always my pastor, but when I made the decision to start Texas Baptist College I did not ask for his permission. I remember the first time I spoke with him about starting my own college. I felt some trepidation as to how he would respond. I shouldn’t have. I should have known how he would respond.
However, as always he went beyond what I would’ve expected. Not only did he commend me, encourage me, and give me his blessing, but he also paid for Dr. Wendell Evans to fly to Longview, Texas, and spend a week in 1982 helping us set up our new college. That was how Dr. Hyles lived his life. He did not feel the need to give his approval to another man’s ministry, but he deeply desired to be a blessing.
Never once did I see Dr. Hyles resist a man when he felt called of God to start a ministry. When a Hyles-Anderson College graduate decided to start a church in North Hammond, IN, Dr. Hyles took an offering for him. He did not consider it competition. Conflict of interest never entered his mind.
The world may operate with that mind-set, but in God’s economy there is no such thing. He rejoiced in what this young man had decided to do. He was not threatened by him. Dr. Hyles would not have done it, but he did not scold or reprimand that man. Dr. Hyles’ principles were different than the young man, but the young man had his principles and Dr. Hyles honored them. Dr. Hyles’ deferred.
When a staff and faculty member left Hammond and moved to another state to start a church, he took with him 27 Hyles-Anderson College men to start his own college. Dr. Hyles never said a negative word about it. I marveled at his character. Rather than rebuking the man, who I believe was unethical, Dr. Hyles once again took an offering for him. That was just the way he was.
Please understand the difference between church birthed ministries through the pastor’s leadership and God birthed ministries through one of his men’s leadership.
When a certain missions ministry decided to move their headquarters to First Baptist Church, Dr. Hyles never asked for any control. I counseled the leader of that missions group as to how to approach Dr. Hyles about the possible move to Hammond. He told me he was shocked at the approach Dr. Hyles took toward this ministry moving to Hammond. It was not birthed by FBC, but it was blessed by FBC.
Dr. Hyles never asked the man to place his ministry under the control of the deacon board or of himself. This man had men preaching with him who Dr. Hyles would probably not have chosen. In fact some of them would not have invited Dr. Hyles to preach for them. Brother Hyles never said a word. He just took an offering. Another man’s ministry was never an issue to him. He did not consider it to be conflict of interest or for it to be his job to police them.
When Dr. Joe Boyd was struggling to get meetings Brother Hyles brought him to Hammond, gave him a place to live, paid a lady to do his clerical work, gave him financial support for life, and made him feel at home. When Dr. Boyd was on his feet and doing well Dr. Hyles never changed what he was doing for his friend. He loved Joe Boyd dearly and supported him until he died.
The truth is Dr. Boyd preached for men who were at odds with Dr. Hyles. However, Dr. Hyles did not monitor him, sensor him, control him, or even make him feel that he had to do anything Dr. Hyles told him to do. Dr. Hyles was there to be a blessing to his friend.
It is my contention that pastors have far too much jealousy, pettiness, controlling mentalities, and fear of competition when it comes to other ministries. Some have accused Dr. Hyles of being against parachurch ministries. I am not sure they even know what that means. First Baptist Church was filled with what they condemn as parachurch ministries. These were ministries birthed by men and led by men who made First Baptist Church their home church, but Dr. Hyles never tried to control the ministry or to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.
I was preaching with Dr. Hyles in Mexico when this topic came up in our conversation. Dr. Hyles listed 15 ministries that were NOT started by the local church of which we were both familiar with. He asked me where I would draw the line. I looked at the list and drew it under number 3. He drew a line under number 5. He then asked which of us was right? Of course I was! Wow, did I ever learn a great lesson about ministries NOT started by a local church.
It is not EVIL to have men of God, led of God, to start ministries. Is that not what Evangelist do? Every growing vibrant church has men, who have started ministries, come to that ministry to be helped.
However, when the board voted Dr. Hyles did not vote what he wanted, he voted what Dr. Rice wanted. He voted for the Sword to move to Murfreesboro, not Hammond. He did not have a desire to control John Rice. He had a desire to be a blessing.
I could go on and on and on and share stories such as these. The truth is that many of the men Dr. Hyles loved dearly had ministries which were not birthed nor submitted to a church. Dr. Ford Porter’s ministry was not. Dr. John Rice and the Sword of the Lord was not. Dr. Bill Rice and the Bill Rice Ranch was not. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., and Bob Jones University was not.
Many other men with whom Dr. Hyles associated had ministries that were not under the control of any local church or pastor. Make no mistake about it, these were loyal churchmen. However, God raised them up to lead a particular ministry which was not under a church. There was not a pastor in America who could have controlled Dr. John Rice. Dr. Hyles did not want him to come to Hammond to control him. He just wanted to be a blessing to him.
Why is it that today so many pastors seem to think that every ministry brought to them should be under the control of a pastor, when historically and Biblical is not the case? Let me share with you some thoughts that I learned from Dr. Hyles.
1. God uses a man to start a ministry. Many of the greatest ministries in history were founded by men, not churches. Dr. Hyles had far more confidence in a man of God then he had in a church. He supported a man. Had John Rice submitted his ministry to a pastor it is possible that Dr. Hyles could not have given him his support.
Pastors change as well as churches change. History is replete with such examples. I have seen it in my brief 44 years of ministry. Pastors aren’t God. The job of a pastor is to lead his church and his sheep not to control every ministry brought to them. Dr. Hyles understood that.
In this mega-church Emerging church mentality age it is almost like we can’t trust God. We use Hollywood methods instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to attract the crowds. So, we have to control those ministries a man of God started because the man who birthed it cannot be trusted. REALLY?
2. Dr. Hyles did not need to be in control of ministries because he had plenty on his own plate. He wasn’t looking for men to come and bless his church he was looking for men to whom his church and ministry could be a blessing. Dr. Hyles raised tens of thousands of dollars for Dr. Bill Rice and the Bill Rice Ranch.
Brother Hyles did not start a camp until it became absolutely necessary. Therefore he was using a non-church camp for many many years because he didn’t need to start one. He NEVER controlled the man or his camp. Dr. Bill was a churchman, but not under the control of a local church. He had no desire to do something someone was already doing. He had other things he could do.
3. Pastor do not miss this next point. He knew that keeping a safe distance from the ministries of men in his church protected him from their problems. Dr. Hyles loved these men, but he did not have to scrutinize everything they did, nor did he want to do so. That distance protected him. He did not want to argue about their differences.
These were strong men. He did not want to get into a battle of wills. By allowing them to operate freely he was freed from that burden. Had Dr. Hyles controlled the ministries of every man in his church he would not have had time to build his church and possibly could have had conflict with men he loved.
4. Dr. Hyles did not see other ministries as competition. Don’t misunderstand me, he was a competitor. He loved being the best. But, he believed you became better when others were blessed and successful. He did not feel threatened by other ministries. There were many “upstarts” like me who thought we were the next Jack Hyles. He was happy with our successes, not threatened by them. He encouraged our independence and individuality. He never attempted to squelch or control us.
5. He was a true independent. Oh how I wish we understood this. A man who truly is independent is comfortable with independence. Dr. Hyles did not want dependent men around him. He wanted men that had their own mind, their own vision, and their own walk with God. If he was in control of everything then everyone could only grow to the the extent that he was able to lead them. He didn’t want that. He loved the independence of men who had ministries out of First Baptist Church.
Dr. Wally Beebe, independently operated Church Bus News while a staff member at First Baptist Church. Dr. Hyles appreciated his independence. Some things were published in the Church Bus News which Dr. Hyles did not adhere too, but he never stuck his nose into the ministry of Dr. Wally Beebe.
6. He was not possessive. He didn’t claim these ministries belonged to him. Dr. Joe Boyd’s ministry wasn’t Dr. Hyles’ ministry, it was Joe Boyd’s. Randy Taylor’s ministry was not Dr. Hyles’ ministry, it was Randy Taylor’s. There were dozens and dozens of evangelists out of First Baptist Church whose ministries were their own and Dr. Hyles was simply there to be a blessing to them and their families, and to be a help in any way he could.
7. Dr. Hyles did not want to control other men of God. Hear me, hear me, hear me! Towards the end of Dr. Hyles ministry he was forced to deal with a leader of a ministry who was compromising doctrinally. Dr. Hyles had always supported this man and his ministry because he believed in the work the man was doing.
I remember the meeting, I was there, when Dr. Hyles confronted this man over these issues. At one point in the meeting I made a statement to this man. I said, “Your problem is that you attend churches where the pastors are not as strong as you. You need to move your ministry to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, and let Dr. Hyles whip you every morning before breakfast to keep you in line.” Dr. Hyles looked at me sternly and said, “I have no desire to control the ministry of another strong man.” Lesson learned.
How did we misunderstand Dr. Hyles regarding this issue? I think it boils down to his strength. There were men who submitted themselves and their ministries to him because of the strength that he had. We assumed he demanded their submission. We did not realize he never once even asked for it. When we saw Dr. Hyles we saw a man who was so powerful that we assumed he was all-powerful. Dr. Hyles never thought that about himself. We in turn tried to demand what he did not even assume.
There are some who will read this article and be critical. I understand that. I see the mindset of many pastors today. There really is no room for strong independent men to attend your church and do what God leads them to do. I am sad for you.
You are missing out on a blessing. You’re missing out on being the kind of man that we once had many of in this country. Greatness prevailed in those days because of great men who had regard for other men of God’s ministries. Men who did not feel that being the pastor gave them the right to control other men’s ministries. Men who respected men of God who who did not happen to be a pastor. I fear that we have almost made pastors a papal position to which all other men of God must bow and submit.
Pastor humble yourself. Stop dictating what others can do. Be an encourager. You don’t have to agree with everything for it to be right. Stop thinking that your word is the final word in everyone’s life who attends your church. Let people be led of God and rejoice when they are. God help us to understand these truths.