Max Wilkins, President of TMS Global, will be a Plenary Preacher at the 2019 National Festival of Young Preachers in Atlanta, Georgia. Before serving at TMS Global, he spent 26 years in pastoral ministry in churches in Florida and Hawaii.
Max’s journey in pastoral ministry started the same way it has for every other pastor: with his first pastorate. “When I left seminary and showed up at my first appointment to be a pastor, I had this office, and I sharpened up some pencils and put them in the pencil holder, and sat down at my desk, and then I thought ‘… ok, now what?'” Max was nervous, but he found confidence when he trusted God. “I just didn’t have a clue what to do. But I always had a great deal of confidence that though I don’t necessarily have anything to say, I do, with the help of the holy spirit, have an ability to try to sift out what God is trying to say through His word and say that in a way that is accessible to people.”
And like every other pastor, he made rookie mistakes he hopes Young Preachers can learn from and avoid themselves. “I was so full of myself, thinking ‘I had been ordained by God for this role.’ I would not only blunder into things but then when people would call me on it, rather than listen, I would blow up and get defensive.” That led to a harsh confrontation with a sweet old lady from his church. “I remember an encounter in the elevator at the hospital when I was visiting some of our people there, and this very sweet, elderly lady got on and tried to raise a concern she had about something that I was doing. And I just lit into her a little bit, and she was so upset, I blew it so bad, and I went and talked to a counselor about that particular instance, and he said, ‘This isn’t rocket science, just shut up! Just listen to people and try to hear what they are saying, try to get a sense of where they are coming from, and how it feels to be walking in their shoes.’ It has taken years and years and years to get relatively good at that. I wasn’t going to last a year if I didn’t learn to stop thinking so much of what I thought and trying to make sure everybody heard me, and really learn to try to hear what other people were saying.”
Later in his ministry, he was hired as the Teaching Pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was an exciting time at a large church where Max’s preaching endurance was tested as he preached two Saturday night services and five services on Sunday morning between two locations. Sunday morning I would do five services, but they were at two sites. So I would finish preaching at the first service, and I would run out the back door where they had a car waiting and police blocking traffic. I would dive into this car and off we would go to the other site where they had already started worship. As soon as I walked in, the worship leader would wrap things up and I would walk on the platform and preach. The minute I was done, it was back out the door to the other site, then back out the door to that site, and so on. Honestly, By the time I was done, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.”
After serving there for two years, Max spent 11 years as a senior pastor in Florida before coming to TMS Global. He was introduced to TMS when they came to his church. “TMS came alongside my local church and helped mobilize that church for mission. The system that they used was so amazin, and transformed everything in the church, and I loved it so much that I actually said to them, ‘I’d love to help you do this for other churches.” After that, he began assisting TMS in their work with churches until he became a board member, and then President and CEO.
His vision for TMS Global is centered around mission. “I believe that mission is the reason the church exists. I think a church that’s not on-mission may be a lot of things, but it’s not a church. We are essentially mobilizers: of individuals, groups, and churches. Our primary aim is to simply get the body of Christ to join Jesus in His mission around the globe.” This is accomplished through everything from sending individuals on mission trips to freely providing church guidance and systems for joining Jesus’ mission.
Looking forward to the Festival, what is the one thing he hopes Young Preachers take away from his Plenary Sermon? “If nothing else, I hope people will come away with the sense that Jesus meant it when said that in His name we can do greater things than He did.”
If you want to know how he thinks we can do that, you’re going to have to come to the National Festival of Young Preachers.
Max served churches as a pastor in Florida and Hawaii for 26 years prior to becoming president and CEO of TMS Global. He has led small and large local churches, planted satellite campuses, and helped to launch more than 100 church plants during that time. Max has been personally engaged in cross-cultural mission work for more than 20 years, having served and taught in more than three dozen countries around the world. He has been a public advocate for missions in the local church, speaking in more than 150 churches around the US. Max brings his skills in effective biblical communication, team building, leadership training, institutional financial management and growth, and a missional mindset to lead TMS Global in its third decade of ministry.