Mount Vernon Baptist Church
on Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh once sat in a rural part of town. The
two-lane road out in front of the church didn’t seem to lead much of anywhere,
and city planners said the area would never grow and the 35-member church would
always be a rural church.
That was 32 years ago. The
two-lane road turned into a four-lane road leading to shopping malls and
restaurants, and 35 members turned into more than 600. Shannon Scott is the
first and only full time pastor of Mount Vernon. When he met with church
leaders 32 years ago they told him their church would die soon if something did
not change. Scott did not let their honesty and a seemingly unpromising
situation turn him away.
“Do I know God called me
here? Absolutely,” Scott said. When he came the church did not have a big
facility or many ministries; they didn’t really have much at all. Yet, Scott
said during those early years “God was building a base of dedicated people.
They came because God called them.” Scott can still look out Sunday mornings
and see scattered throughout the congregation leaders who have been with him
for nearly 32 years.
When Scott arrived at Mount
Vernon he preached God’s word, and people came to know Jesus Christ as their
personal Lord and Savior. When he first arrived the church had no Sunday School
teachers, but after praying for laborers to be sent into the field, Sunday
School teachers came. “God’s hand was on it,” Scott said. “The Lord saved us.”
Throughout the years Scott
faithfully served the Lord, and the Lord has changed lives through the ministry
of Mount Vernon.
The church is now
intentional with their evangelism efforts and people are being called out to
share the gospel in areas of the world with no gospel witness. Scott continues
to watch as new families come into the church and God grows them up to be
leaders in the church and community.
Change did not happen
overnight and at times Scott did consider leaving. When God never provided a
way out Scott knew he needed to stay where he was, for God had work left for
him to do. Scott encourages younger pastors not to get discouraged when life is
hard, for sometimes the church needs to see that the pastor “can take a storm.
Sometimes God’s people need to see if this man is going to stand up in trouble.”
Serving in one place so many
years has challenged Scott to “dig personally.” “I can’t preach the same
sermons I preached 10 years ago,” he said. Preaching to the same congregation
week after week requires even greater Bible study and sermon preparation.
“You’ve got to give them something new. You can’t live off what you’ve gotten
in seminary or at a Bible conference.”
Scott plans to continue
serving the Lord many more years. “I’m ready to do whatever He wants me to do,”
he said. “With God, you can’t dream big enough.”