Avery T. Willis’ MasterLife book changed Alan Thompson’s ministry

I had been struggling with what it means when Jesus says, “Come and follow me.”

Alan Thompson
  • Alan Thompson
  • First Baptist Church of Clairemont
  • Contact: 3219 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, 858-273-4642 www.fbcclairemont.org
  • Membership: 120
  • Pastor: Alan Thompson  
  • Age: 67
  • Born: Weatherford, Texas
  • Formation: Grand Canyon College (now University), Phoenix, AZ; Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO.
  • Years Ordained: 43

San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

Pastor Alan Thompson: We’ve done a great job evangelizing, telling people about Jesus, and baptizing them, but we haven’t worked hard to get them to be mature followers of Jesus. A mature follower would be a person of prayer, someone committed to the word of God, reading and studying the Bible daily, and working at memorizing it and meditating on it. A mature disciple would also have fellowship with other believers, to help them be accountable and grow in the faith.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PT: I was working in the copper mines in Arizona, preparing to go to school. I was working the graveyard shift and found myself praying, asking God what he wanted me to do with my life. I had two choices. I could go to school to be an electrical engineer or I could join the military – this was during the Vietnam War era – and I could join my friends over there. When I prayed and asked God what he wanted, I had an overwhelming sense that God was speaking to me, saying, “Alan, I want you to be a preacher.” It wasn’t something I pursued, it wasn’t something I wanted to do even, but I just could not get that idea out of my mind.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PT: God planted us here to make an impact in our community with the good news of God’s awesome love. We do several community outreaches, including an annual community Thanksgiving service…. We invite other evangelical churches to come and meet with us at this event, and invite the whole community to show how Christians get along with each other and worship God and thank him for all his blessings.

SDR: What book has had the greatest influence on your ministry?

PT: There was a study I went to in 1981 which focused on a book called MasterLife: Developing a Rich Personal Relationship with the Master by Avery T. Willis, Jr. My whole ministry changed when I finished that study. I had been struggling with what it means when Jesus says, “Come and follow me.” After I read the book, went to a seminar and listened to Mr. Willis, I came away deciding I needed daily quiet time with the Lord. Now I get up between 5:30 and 6 every morning to have a time of prayer and Bible study. I pray for my church members and a list of missionaries who are having birthdays. I also have some friends I am trying to work with that I pray for as well. Then I read a devotional book – right now, a book by Billy Graham – and then I read something from the Bible. That gives me a consistent inspiration, and it fuels me for the day.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” and “No one gets to heaven except by me.” So my belief is there’s only one way to get to heaven – by Jesus. If people reject Jesus, they will not be making it to heaven. I believe there is a place prepared for them too, which is called hell.

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