Above: Todd Fisher and Family. From left, Cassidy (daughter-in-law), Zach (son), Todd, Jamy, Carly (daughter), Anna (daughter)
The Baptist Messenger recently interviewed Todd Fisher, who is poised to become the next executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists.
Messenger: Thank you for joining us today, and congratulations on being selected to serve Oklahoma Baptists! To start, can you tell us about your family?
Fisher: My wife’s name is Jamy, and we have been married 27 years. She is from Ponca City, and we met at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). Jamy leads the women’s ministry at Shawnee, Immanuel, where I’ve been pastor since 2003. Jamy teaches a women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings for our church and community. Our oldest child is Zach. He married his wife Cassidy—both are OBU grads—last December, and they live in Garber, where Zach is the band director for Garber Schools. Our middle child is Carly. She is a junior at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., studying interpersonal communications. Our youngest child is Anna who is in the eighth grade.
Messenger: Where have you served in ministry?
Fisher: My first staff position was at Weleetka, First in 1989 as the youth minister. About two months after I started, the pastor resigned, and it turned out that, for the year I was there, I ended up serving as the interim pastor. I left the church when they called a pastor, so that I could preach across Oklahoma as an OBU student representing the school. In 1991, I started as the interim pastor at Bethel Acres, Hopewell, while still a senior at OBU. They called me as pastor, and I served there until 1994. From 1994-1997, I served as the pastor of Wellston, First, and then as pastor of Oklahoma City, Highland Hills from 1997-2003. And again, I have been serving as the pastor of Shawnee, Immanuel since 2003.
Messenger: Please tell us about your salvation experience.
Fisher: I came to faith in Christ when I was 14 years old. I became friends with a classmate whose father was a pastor, and he consistently invited me to church and shared about the Lord with me. Sports was everything to me at that age, so one night I watched a TV show that had advertised that a famous athlete would be a guest. I watched the show, and the athlete presented a very clear presentation of the Gospel. God used the testimony of the athlete, as well as my friend, to show me my need to repent of my sin and follow Him in faith. At the conclusion of the TV show, I knelt next to my bed and committed my life to Jesus.
Messenger: Did you grow up as a Southern Baptist?
Fisher: I did not grow up going to church until I became a Christian at age 14. I immediately went to church with my friend whose father was the pastor and went forward to make my commitment to Christ public and join the church. That church was Fort Worth, Texas, North Fort Worth, where I was baptized and got very involved in the youth group and life of the church. At the age of 16, I sensed God calling me into vocational ministry, and in my senior year of high school, at age 18, knew that God was calling me to pastor a church. I came to OBU as a freshman to prepare myself for God’s call on my life to ministry.
Messenger: What are your hobbies?
Fisher: I usually go for a run most mornings and enjoy working outside on the lawn and running the chainsaw. I also enjoy playing golf with my son when we can and watching sports of all kinds. One of my favorite “hobbies” is teaching classes for OBU and supervising doctoral students at Southern Seminary.
Messenger: What sports teams do you follow most closely?
Fisher: Growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I am naturally a fan of the professional sports teams from there, but most of all I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers fan. Many of my best childhood memories are my brother taking me to their games. And of course, I’m an avid OBU Bison fan!
Messenger: What podcasts do you listen to?
Fisher: The Briefing with Albert Mohler, 5 Minutes in Church History, Cold Case Christianity, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill and of course Messenger Insight Podcasts!
Messenger: What are some of your personal favorite books of the Bible? In addition to the Bible, what books do you like or are important to you?
Fisher: I love Ephesians for the rich theology and practical application. Some of my favorite books to preach through have been Ecclesiastes, John and Hebrews.
Books that have been important to me are expository commentaries, books on preaching (The Imperative of Preaching by John Carrick and Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell to name two), books on hermeneutics such as The Gagging of God by D.A. Carson, and works of theology such as The Cross of Christ by John Stott. I also value biographies on Christian leaders and pastoral leadership.
Messenger: Who has inspired you in your life and ministry and why?
Fisher: Tom Wilks was my major professor at OBU and taught me a great deal about the practicalities of pastoring a local church. Dr. Wilks gave me a positive outlook about the church, people and ministry that helped give me a solid start in being a pastor. I would also add James Montgomery Boice, who was the topic of my dissertation. I learned a great deal about the value of expository preaching and how to do it from his sermons and books. His convictional stance for the inerrancy of the Bible and its doctrines in the face of strong opposition from his own denomination have been educational and inspirational to me.
Messenger: Can you talk about how the Lord led you to this call of becoming Oklahoma Baptists’ executive director-treasurer?
Fisher: All of this has taken me by surprise. I was not seeking this position, nor did I have aspirations for it. I was very happy in Shawnee pastoring at Immanuel and teaching at OBU. However, as many in our state contacted me, hoping I would be willing to be considered for the job and as the search committee asked me to do the same, I began praying about the possibility. Through my time in prayer, visiting with others and participating in the search committee’s thorough process, it became clear to me that God was leading me to this new role to use my pastoral experience and background to serve Oklahoma Baptists and the denomination I love.
Messenger: What are some unique opportunities you see for Oklahoma Baptists?
Fisher: Oklahoma Baptists, through our unity around the message and mission God has given us, are poised to be an example to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of how a state convention of churches can work together to make a strong impact for the Kingdom of God in our communities, nation and the world.
Oklahoma Baptists can help lead the way in things such as mission partnerships, church planting, church revitalization, identifying and equipping those called to ministry and strategies for taking the unchanging truth of God’s Word to a rapidly changing culture. As a state convention, we have the opportunity to continue to come alongside our pastors, churches and associations to encourage them and partner with them in their ministries and to value the important contribution every church in our state makes toward Kingdom work.
Messenger: What are some challenges and opportunities that Southern Baptists as a whole have?
Fisher: The SBC is obviously facing a number of substantial challenges today that are dividing and distracting us as a convention. These include the challenges of understanding our identity, polity and caring for all people biblically, transparently and compassionately.
A strong commitment to the message (the Word of God) which frames our mission (the Great Commission) as our highest priority in terms of our identity as Southern Baptists is needed to refocus us as a denomination. We must be clear that our Baptist polity sees the local church as the fundamental means through which God carries out the message and mission. As such, the SBC is a bottom-up, not top-down, organization where the church under the lordship of Jesus holds authority over the convention.
Additionally, the framework through which we view and treat all people must be rooted in Scripture, selfless and compassionate. It must befit the model that Jesus gave us through his life and our desire to see all people redeemed and transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Messenger: How can Oklahoma Baptists pray for you?
Fisher: I would greatly appreciate Oklahoma Baptists praying for me and my family as we make the transition to this new role and moving to Oklahoma City. Leaving the pastorate will be difficult in many respects, but I am excited for this new work. Please pray for me to have wisdom, discernment, humility, fruitfulness and above all be Christ-focused in my personal and professional life.
Messenger: Thank for taking time with us, Dr. Fisher, and we pray God’s blessings on you and your whole family.