Joe Funburg knew years ago that God had a calling for him to one day be in full-time ministry, but it took a a series of events for him to end up at Southside Baptist Church.
For the past 20 years, Funburg worked in the abstracting and banking business, and at Northeastern State University in business administration. He's been either a lay staff or part-time staff as a youth pastor, ministering to students for about 17 years.
"In a step of faith, I resigned from my full-time position at NSU, having no idea what I was going to do, and days before leaving, I got a call from someone at Southside telling me they were looking for a pastor," said Funburg.
A friend and spiritual mentor, Charlie Keim, had recommended Funburg.
"Charlie was one of the first people who knew God had plans in ministry for me before I did, and was always encouraging and prodding me to surrender to preaching. Within two months of leaving my job in the secular world, I now was in my first full-time pastorate," he said.
Funburg doesn't want to just invite people to church, but to invite them to Jesus.
"Church isn’t just about meeting each week to go through the motions. Being a follower of Christ or a disciple of Jesus is a lifestyle that begins with trusting Jesus by faith and then letting God permeate into every area of one’s life," he said.
What he loves most preaching and teaching God’s Word is sharing the gospel for salvation in Jesus.
"And I also [want] to encourage and build up the family of believers, while challenging each member with the truth of Scripture, that we would live with hearts of repentance, growing in the faith being disciples and making disciples," he said. "I just love people – hearing people’s stories of life and faith, seeing how God is alive in their lives, and taking wisdom from those who are much wiser than myself."
At Southside, Funburg said, they want each person to know and experience the abundant life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He said the church is "very casual, and the atmosphere is super-friendly and easygoing."
Personal evangelism is the emphasis in 2020.
"We are looking for the hearts, hands and feet that God would bring along side us to be partners in the ministry," said Funburg. "There are other believers out there that God already has prepared to join with us, but we are expectant to see things even greater than we can imagine this year."
Midweek, members are studying Genesis, looking at the redemption of mankind, as it started at creation all the way up to the cross.
A joy to Funburg is that his son, Ashton, is now part of the ministry as a new youth leader.
"Our world is so connected and I try to balance that with one-to-one interaction, but the human aspect of face-to-face is something people need and love," said Funburg. "I am in the office most days, but am very flexible so I can be out with our people and the people of the community. I can always make myself available by appointment, if someone needs to meet with me or visit."
The Southside office hours when the secretary is available are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday and Thursday.
Southside Baptist Church, 300 Parker St., has Sunday school at 9:30 a,m. and Sunday worship at 10:45 a.m. On Wednesday nights, children and youth meet at 6 p.m. for ministry groups, and adults have small group Bible study. Vacation Bible School is planned for this summer. The church office number is 456-2161.