An Interview with Keith Bunch
I am currently the senior pastor of the Sunbury God’s Missionary Church. I serve as the Treasurer of our Home Missions Department, a position I have held for the last five years, and also I am an advisory member on the God’s Missionary Youth Camp board.
My wife’s name is Cara and we have been married for over 16 years. God has blessed our home with two children. Kaitlyn is thirteen and Caleb is seven.
3. How did you know that you were called into the ministry?
At a youth rally in Delaware, Ohio, God began impressing upon my heart that He wanted me to preach the gospel. I talked with my pastor about it; he encouraged me to continue to pray and be open to God’s guidance. As I prayed and sought God’s will for my life, I couldn’t get away from His call. It continued to deepen within my soul until at an altar of prayer, I surrendered my life completely to Him and said “yes” to His call. There was no doubt in my heart and mind: I knew that this is what God called me to do. It is this very thing that keeps me in the ministry when I am going through difficult times.
Looking back, it was very instrumental. Like a lot of young guys who have a call to preach, I wanted to get out there and pastor and preach. That was what God called me to do. Why spend four years in Bible College? I thought. I was also very zealous and full of energy, but I needed direction to channel that zeal and energy. Penn View provided that direction for my life. They gave to me the knowledge that I needed to balance with my zeal and energy.
I learned many important lessons while I was at Penn View, but perhaps the most important lesson I learned was the importance of coming under authority. There were times I didn’t agree with some of the rules, but I knew that was where God wanted me to be. If God wanted me there, then I would have to learn to come under their authority. Learning this lesson has been invaluable to my ministry. For I have learned, no matter what your position is, there is always someone’s authority you have to come under.
While I was in Bible college, I served as the Ministerial Department’s treasurer. Also I served as chaplain and treasurer of my class.
Since pastoring, I have served in various roles such as: Camp Board Member, Vice President of a Camp, Youth Crusaders Board Member, School Board Member. I have also served on our Conference Editorial Board while I am still serving on the Conference auditing board. I was an associate pastor for eight years. There are also the boards that I am currently serving which I mentioned earlier in the interview.
There have been four men especially that I would say have had the greatest impact on my life and have been mentor’s in my life. The first is my pastor Jeral Davis. He and his family came to our church when I was nine years old. It was through his long-term ministry and friendship that I was able to get settled spiritual. He was also the one, who guided me to go to Penn View to prepare for the ministry. I am very indebted for all that he invested in me.
Two other men who have impacted my life tremendously and helped me to grow as a leader is Rev. Jacob Martin and Rev. James Plank. These men motivated me and still do that evangelizing and reaching out to our communities can still be effective. As we do that, we don’t have to compromise the message of the Bible. There are still people out in the world that are looking for the genuine, and we have to be out trying to find them.
The final individual I want to mention that has impacted my life in a different way is Rev. John Zechman. While I was at Penn View, it was through his example that I learned just how important prayer is to the life of the Christian especially to a minister. Prayer declares to God that we are dependent on Him.
Personally, I would say “be yourself.” Don’t try to imitate someone else. I am not suggesting that we can’t learn from observing other successful preachers and how they do things. I try to surround myself with others that will challenge me and help me to be a better preacher. But ultimately, I have learned God has created each of us by design for a purpose. God wants to use us personally. So again I say, “BE YOURSELF!”
There have been many in my ministry. But the one that sticks out is when I pastored in Coopersburg. I preached a message on salvation, opened the altar, and a lady that we had been working with for some time stepped out into the aisle and made her way to the front. As she came to the front, I had to instruct her to kneel and pray because she didn’t know how we did things. After she finished praying, as she was getting to her feet, she had a glow on our face, and there was no doubt in our mind that she had touched God and God touched her. Truly, that is what the ministry is all about. Connecting people to Christ.
Indeed, this is the toughest area to balance. As the old saying goes, “I wish I would have known then what I know now.” Early in my ministry, I was so focused on growing the church that many times my family suffered. To this day, it still deeply troubles me. Those are days I will never regain.
Several years ago, I came across an outline that I feel has been very beneficial to my ministry and to my family. It goes something like this: I am:
- A Person – This deals with my relationship with God
- A Partner – This deals with my relationship with my spouse
- A Parent – This deals with my relationship with my children
- A Pastor – This deals with my relationship with my parishioners
When these are kept in their proper place, it’s amazing how life goes a lot smoother.
There are a couple different directions I could go. I will just mention two. The first is in the area of finances. Be good stewards of the money that God has given to you. Contact a good accountant who knows the ins and outs of the law for the minister. This can save you many a headache down the road.
The second thing I wish I would have known when I entered the ministry is surrounded around the word “balance.” Learn to balance your time. You need a time to get alone with God. You need a time to read to gain fresh ideas. You need a time to study the Word of God. You need a time to visit the people of your church and of your community. Plus you need a time to spend with your family. Balance, I believe is the key to sustaining a long term successful ministry.
The way I unwind after a long, busy day is to go to my office and play a sports-oriented video game for a few minutes. It’s amazing how this refreshes me and helps me to refocus on what’s next on the agenda – especially if I win!
As a Pastor, the one book that has had the greatest impact on my ministry is “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala. For many years, I made it a priority to read through this great book once a year. Every time, I came away more energized and encouraged to do something for God. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor: purchase the book, begin reading it and allow the Holy Spirit to challenge you and change your life.