Matthew Smart is learning the challenges and rewards of his calling at New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville, where he accepted his first position as a lead pastor.
"It's been a good experience," Smart said. He really likes the area and its people, he said.
A native of Arkansas, he accepted the position at the Duncansville-area church because, "I felt like that is where God wanted me to go. The doors just opened."
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) Matthew Smart is serving his first pastorate at New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville.
A plus for him is that he always wanted to live in a different region of the country, and Pennsylvania provides that opportunity.
Services begin with small groups at 9:30 a.m. and worship at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays. A Bible study is held at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
The small groups program is similar to Sunday school with more discussion and less lecture. Smart said there are classes for children, teens and adults on different topics.
"Every class is different," he said. He said teens are learning about the Trinity while an adult class he teaches discusses what the previous week's sermon means to them.
Smart said small groups were developed because "relationships are really important. It's the best way to engage people and develop fellowship."
The Mirror asked him the following questions about his work:
What inspired you to become a spiritual leader?
I became a follower of Jesus as a 17-year-old, and I started reading through the Gospel of John. As I was reading through the last chapter, I came to a conversation between Jesus and Peter, where Jesus challenged Peter three times about his love for him.
Each time that Peter affirmed that he loved Jesus, Jesus told him to feed his sheep. I saw the connection between loving Jesus and serving him by leading others.
That insight has grown and developed through the years, but it was definitely where the journey began.
What is the greatest thing about your job?
Being a pastor is very rewarding. One of the greatest rewards is helping people understand that, with God, all things are possible, and that includes having a fresh start in life.
Jesus called that being born again. It is very rewarding for me to see people experience new life in Christ.
What are your talents/spiritual gifts?
Teaching and leading.
What is the best advice you received?
My father-in-law, who has been in ministry for almost 30 years, advised me at my ordination service to always preach, teach and lead from the overflow of my own walk with God.
What are your hobbies/interests?
I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, travel and exercise.