Greater Tulsa Reporter
SENIOR PASTOR: Ted Kersh has been the senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church since December 2006.
GTR Newspapers photo
Dr. Ted Kersh, senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church, has a powerful vision for the 2,700-member church he pastors. Kersh says, “When I became a pastor here, I began to think about what God wants for South Tulsa Baptist Church. As we developed our mission statement I realized that our vision and mission is straightforward: to stay connected to God and change the world.”
Kersh admits that this is ambitious, saying, “Some will say, ‘how can a relatively small church (as compared to the “mega” churches), change the world? How can you do this?’ The answer is, one person at a time.”
In order to advance this mission, South Tulsa Baptist Church has developed and is committed to several ministries in order to help those in need and to connect people to God. “We have local ministries such as in north and west Tulsa providing food and clothes, and in Brazil and Guatemala providing for orphans. We know that we can change lives for people through Jesus Christ and we are working on this every day, one person at a time.”
When asked about the state of the church in today’s America, Kersh says, “Statistics show that young people are not joining traditional churches, but at South Tulsa Baptist this is not the case. We provide a lot of youth and children ministries such as music, drama, sports and missions.” In addition to youth ministries, there are ministries for adults. Kersh says that in-depth study of the Bible is offered to parents in order to guide them to understanding of the true meaning of Scripture. “I am an expositional preacher, meaning that at our church we expose the Scripture focusing on what the Bible really says and means.” In order to accomplish this, Kersh leads the congregation through Scripture one book at a time, spending ten months on Hebrews.
The focused approach is very helpful, according to Kersh, because in addition to its spiritual importance it has practical value. “One of our members said that he enjoys the approach we take because what he learns on Sunday he can work on and use on Monday.” The goal is to give everyone in-depth teaching of the Bible that they can use and apply to daily life. Kersh has realized that families want this. “They are tired of the showmanship of church, tired of they hype. We are seeing more and more families coming to our church seeking the in-depth approach we take.”
To meet this need, South Tulsa Baptist offers a “Thirst Conference.” The conference is an in-depth Bible study that focuses on the question, “What does it mean to thirst for God?” Interest is very strong and, more than 400 are involved in this year’s study, according to Kersh.
When asked about the challenges of leading a church today, Kersh says, “There seems to be a pseudo-spiritual style in churches today. Even in Tulsa we have the same problems that exist everywhere else. People need to understand that saying ‘I’m a Christian’ is not enough. There is a lack of serious, practical Christianity being lived out in families today.”
To this point, Kersh mentions “church hoppers” who bounce from church to church rather than establish roots in one. “We try to help people see the value of locking their lives in a church, growing with the church and participating in the church. We emphasize that church is not just a Sunday event, that the Christian life is critical in living today.”
South Tulsa Baptist offers many opportunities for people to become involved and regularly participate, through its ministries and church events. The car show, which is a free and takes place in September every year, is a popular event. “We just finished our 2012 car show and had over 400 classic cars, muscle cars and more. It has become one of the largest car shows in the region. We also had World War II airplanes doing a flyover, a band, games and free food.” This year’s show was a big success with more than 2,300 people who registered and more than 2,000 people who were fed.
The next event South Tulsa Baptist will host is the biggest event of the year. The Christmas Dinner Theater is a meal that the church provides for the homeless. Kersh says, “We provide a wonderful sit-down meal and entertainment for our guests whom we bring to the church from the area homeless shelters. Our church members serve them dinner, and everyone truly enjoys it. It is a wonderful opportunity to serve those in need and share the love of Christ.”
South Tulsa Baptist is always staying busy, according to Kersh. “We are growing, leading people to Christ, helping people, feeding people, clothing people and doing our utmost to change the world one person at a time.”