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Shirley’s Impact on Colorado
By Steve Hoekstra
There are many things of which to speak proudly in the ministry of Kent Shirley. In his 8 ½ years working with Colorado Baptists, this missionary has lead in moving the Grand Valley Baptist Association to new heights.
One of the unique characteristics of Kent is his church planting strategic thinking. Kent knew that in order for the Grand Valley to be saturated with the Gospel message, they needed more churches. There would be some that would say they have plenty and just strengthen the ones they have, but Kent knew better. The Grand Valley was growing fast enough that just growing larger churches was not going to keep pace with the population increase.
Leading and working with the churches already there, they put together a plan for moving forward in every people group. Of course some did not do as well as others, but there is significant movement toward a growing understanding and direction in church planting that will leave a great legacy for this missionary.
As a fitting celebration, one of the most successful church plants, Family Room Fellowship under the pastoral leadership of Amani Bullock, constituted as a church this past Sunday. Family Room Fellowship is reaching a heretofore unreached people group in Grand Junction and baptizing on a monthly basis. Kent even led the Association to assist Pastor Bullock in completing his Seminary while in the Grand Valley.
“I met Kent Shirley over the phone back in 2007”, said Pastor Amani Bullock.
Bullock explained their friendship turned into a deeper mentorship relationship where solid advice was passed down and practical applications were hashed out for Bullock’s church plant.
“Kent has an outstanding character. He is passionate, honest and will share everything he knows with you,” said Bullock. “I’m going to miss him a lot and he will go down in my book as the mentor that helped me lead my church plant.”
Kent has the gift of ministering to churches and pastors. In the past couple of years he has worked as a transitional pastor for the Fellowship Of the Rockies Church in Rifle and now for the Dinosaur Baptist Church in Dinosaur Colorado.
Kent did go through the Transitional Pastor Training offered by Colorado Baptists but it is his love of people and God’s church that really makes him successful in these ventures. It is not easy to pastor a church several hours from your home. To develop the relationships and trust needed to move a church in a very healthy direction takes time, skill and love. Kent has proven he has all of this and more. I have had the privilege of speaking to the Fellowship of the Rockies Church both during Kent’s Transitional Pastorate and after, the people love and appreciate him. I have not had opportunity to go up to Dinosaur but I am sure the same could be said by those folks.
Kent Shirley is a missionary, he thinks like a missionary, he acts like a missionary and he plans like a missionary. I would be remiss if I did not include his wonderful helpmate Elaine in all of the above comments. Elaine has served as the Associational Secretary for most of their stay in Grand Junction. She is Kent’s right hand in ministry.
“Elaine is just right there to help Kent with whatever project he is working on,” Pastor Amani Bullock said. “It’s almost like a ballroom dance. They work so well together you don’t notice if one misses a step.”
More could be said and written about Kent’s ministry to the churches and pastors, about his ministry to and through Colorado Baptists and his advocacy for GVBA with the Oklahoma Partnership. He is a celebrated part of the Colorado Baptist General Convention and will be missed as he goes into retirement. However, I know that he will be looking for church planters and strengtheners for Colorado Baptists even in his “retirement.”
Thank you Kent and Elaine for your service to the Grand Valley Association, Colorado Baptists and the Kingdom.