Legacy of solid preaching steadies church

IRVING A history of strong biblical preaching has strengthened MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church in Irving as a succession of pastors have emphasized God’s Word and the congregation now expects to be challenged rather than entertained.  

Longtime church member Shirley Laughlin noted that in uncertain times, such as during the Iran hostage crisis, for example, the church needed strong preaching as an anchor. 

“There was so much fear and anxiety, and yet we knew the strengthening power and presence of God in the life of our church,” Laughlin recounted about the early 1980s. “In the midst of turmoil and rebellion in the world, there was peace in the church.”

From Ron Dunn to John Meador to David Allen to Josh Smith, MacArthur Blvd has seen God faithfully provide men to rightly divide his Word through the years. 

When a frustrated Dunn was ready to give up the pulpit, a friend asked him to preach a revival in Colorado, and it changed his life. The Holy Spirit gripped him, Laughlin said, and when he returned to MacArthur Blvd, the church changed too.

“When God does a new work in the life of the man behind the pulpit, it impacts the entire church,” Laughlin told the TEXAN.

Nelson McKinney, another longtime member, said Dunn came back and told the church they would no longer go through the motions. They were going to do whatever it took for God to find favor with them.

Dunn led the congregation to start a 24-hour prayer chapel, and 200 people signed up to pray around the clock for specific needs. As many as 15 groups of church members spontaneously began praying in homes around the same time. 

“Nobody wanted to miss church because God was moving in our midst when we came together as a congregation,” Laughlin said. “It was a miraculous unfolding of the power of God, and it was through the strong presentation and focus on the Word of God—not on the power or eloquence of men but on seeing through the Holy Spirit the reality of what the Christian life is in a new way.”

As a result of the praying and the biblical preaching, many became convicted that either they were not really saved or they had not totally committed themselves, “that being a Christian was more than just coming on Sunday and Wednesday,” she said. “People’s spiritual lives deepened and broadened and became real.”

Many souls were saved in that period, McKinney said, and the church grew phenomenally.

Even after Dunn left MacArthur Blvd to start an evangelistic ministry, he continued to disciple church members such as Mary Lou King through his tapes, CDs and DVDs, she said. “He could take one verse and take it almost word for word apart and make you see it like you’d just never seen it before.”

Following Dunn, John Meador pastored the congregation from 1992-1999, leading them to relocate to Valley Ranch. His commitment to faithfully preaching God’s Word was a great blessing during those years.

God later sent David Allen, now dean of the school of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to pastor MacArthur Blvd.

“He would tell stories that would go along so strongly with the Scripture that you could remember what he was preaching about,” King said, “things that just really hit us where we were at the time.”

Josh Smith was called as pastor in 2006, continuing the legacy of expositional preaching. King marvels at the way he is preaching through the Psalms, helping her understand the book in new ways even after she has studied it most of her life. 

Preachers who dig deep into the Word to bring out the meaning and application “don’t just leave you with good feelings,” King said. “They leave you with a hunger of wanting to know God better and deeper because of having gone into the Word.”

MacArthur Blvd members, once they started seeing the good that comes from strong preaching, wanted to make sure they sought men for the pulpit who “could preach and not scratch ears and not entertain,” McKinney said. 

“There has to be not just a bright mind but a godly mind that says, ‘I’m looking deep for what God says,’” McKinney said. 

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
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