Sixed: Andy Manning

Born and raised in Acadiana, Andy Manning graduated in Business Administration at UL in 2002. And after marrying Lydia Marie Mann in 2002, he received a Masters of Divinity in Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. In early 2005, Andy moved back to Lafayette to start a new church - Church Acadiana [website]. After working bi-vocationally for the first year as a full-time PE teacher at First Baptist Christian school, he now looks forward to ministering as a full-time pastor.

#1- How did you get your start in ministry? [If you didn't start locally, please include how you got to Acadiana.]
I grew up at First Baptist Church in Youngsville. In my sophomore year in High School I began to feel God leading me to pursue a career in full-time vocational ministry. After graduating from Comeaux High School in 1998, I spent the summer working on staff at Acadian Baptist Center. It was a wonderful summer, my first experience with full-time ministry. During college my home church called me to serve as the part-time youth pastor. The next three years were an amazing ride. I didn't know what I was doing, since I didn't have a youth pastor growing up and never saw a full-time youth pastor in action, so I just preached the gospel and challenged the young people to a life wholehearted discipleship (I know, "What was I thinking?"). Being young and naive, I threw tradition to the wind and decided to do whatever it took to reach kids for Christ. This got me in a lot of trouble with "older folk" in the Church, but the youth and their parents loved me for it. The main theme of my ministry was that you need to decide to follow Christ once and for all, and if you are a true believer, your life should be changing radically to look more and more like Jesus. Countless students gave their lives to Christ and I learned priceless lessons about spiritual leadership (mostly from butting heads with my boss, the pastor).

After three years as the youth pastor I left for seminary in Fort Worth. Three years later I graduated and moved back to town to start Church Acadiana (June 2005). The new church's first and most dedicated members are my old youth and their parents from FBC Youngsville.

#2- What is the hardest thing about leading a church/ministry?
The hardest thing about leading a church is that the Church will never grow beyond your leadership abilities. If the Church is ineffective, it's primarily my fault. If people aren't having a daily quiet time and tithing the blame falls on me. If the men in the Church aren’t stepping up and leading the way, it's ultimately my fault. If we aren't developing new leaders and equipping them to be more effective, it's my fault. If the Church isn't praying and if lives aren't changing and if people aren't coming to Christ, the blame falls on me. The hardest thing about leadership is taking responsibility for the ultimate success or failure of the ministry with which God has made me a steward. God has done His part, and He wants the ministry to succeed. If it's not succeeding, then I need to grow as a leader and as a man of God.

#3- What do you do to relax?
I like to soak in the tub with my wife as we talk and read. I like to watch tv and movies. I like to take long drives with my wife and look at beautiful homes. I like to read fiction and non-fiction. I like to play tennis, ping pong, and basketball with my wife. I like to sing and play the guitar. I like to have a long, quiet dinner at a restaurant with friends. I like to play with my children.

#4- How do you think the Church in Acadiana will have changed in 25 years?
I think many of the established churches that haven’t changed much in the past 25 years will continue to grow more and more out of touch with the people of Acadiana. I think the Churches that have embraced the core values of being missional and culturally relevant will continue to change with the culture in order to remain relevant and effective. I believe that Acadiana is in the beginning of the greatest spiritual awakening it has ever seen, and every church that has strong, consistent leadership over a considerable amount of time and that focuses steadily on fulfilling the Great Commission, using any means necessary without compromising the truth of Scripture, every church in Acadiana like this will see the greatest growth, both spiritually and numerically that it has ever seen. I also believe that more and more new churches will spring up at a faster and faster rate. I believe that the demonic spirit of territorialism that has so dominated the spiritual leaders of Acadiana for so long will be driven out completely. I see the Church being seen as more and more relevant and useful in the eyes of the community because the Church focuses not merely on getting more souls into heaven, but on SHOWING people how to experience the abundant, purpose-filled life that God has for them while on earth.

#5- What advice would you give to the next generation of church leaders in Lafayette?
1- Unless God writes it in the sky for you to minister elsewhere, assume that He wants you to invest your life and ministry right here in Acadiana. Don't leave Acadiana unless you are called to foreign missions, because anywhere else is another world. God raised you up here for a reason, and it's probably not so that you will leave and go minister at First Community Church in Po-dunk Kansas.

2- Only go to seminary if you will be able to commute from Acadiana. Don't uproot your family and leave your church and ministry to go study how to do ministry. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

3- More important than seminary, find a church and pastor who will take you under his wing and pour his life into you, teaching you everything he knows. Stay at that church and work your way up into a full-time position.

4- Be flexible. Don't get stuck in a particular church model or philosophy of ministry. Be changeable, teachable, adaptable. Do something until it stops working. Then try something else.

5- Treat everyone that you see just like they are one of your church members. The world is your congregation. I learned this from my friend Jeff Cook.

6- Never sacrifice your relationship with God or your family to get ahead in ministry. These two things come first. You have to be willing to leave the ministry for the sake of your walk with God and your relationship to your family.

7- Keep learning and growing. Read. Attend conferences. Meet with other pastors that you want to learn from.

8- Don’t let your critics get you down. And don't waste your time defending yourself. Any time you do things differently and try something new you will be persecuted. Stick to your convictions. People hated and criticized Rick Warren, Billy Hybels, Ed Young Jr. and Andy Stanley, and still do to this day.

9- Determine to stay in one town, in one church your entire ministry. Just about every great church in the world got that way because of a pastor who built it from scratch and poured his entire life and ministry into it. Don't fall into the current trend of church-hopping every two and a half years. You might get a larger salary up front, but you get a wasted life in the end.

10- Remember that raising a great family is the greatest legacy you will ever have, and the most significant thing that you will ever do in this life. I admire a man who has built great kids more than a man who has built a big church. Don’t ever allow your ministry to pull you from your family. Take this as a word from God: If God gave you kids, He is not calling you to an itinerant preaching ministry that decreases your effectiveness at home. Wait until your kids are out of the home before pursuing your dreams as the next Billy Sunday.

11- Don’t listen to young, naive pastors who are full of advice.

#6- In your walk with Christ, what has He been teaching you lately?
In order to change the world, you have to first learn to change yourself. If you can learn to change yourself, you can change the whole world.


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