Religion

Hamm and Victory Baptist offer God’s word book-by-book

Kenny Hamm, pastor of Victory Baptist Church, spends hours each week preparing expository messages from God’s word for the Victory congregation and community.
Kenny Hamm, pastor of Victory Baptist Church, spends hours each week preparing expository messages from God’s word for the Victory congregation and community. Special to The Telegraph

Victory Baptist Church was begun in 1963 by a group of families wanting an independent Baptist congregation in the southern part of Bibb County.

Kenny Hamm has been pastor at the church for 22 years, but for the first 15, he served as youth pastor. He became senior pastor in 2010.

“Victory bought the property we’re still on in what was called sub-south Bibb County,” he said. “Until they built what is now our fellowship hall, meetings were held at the Porter Ellis Community Center. A larger auditorium was built years later.”

Hamm said he was 25 when he came as youth pastor and that he was unsure whether he wanted to transition from youth pastor to pastor when asked.

“They asked me immediately when our pastor at the time took a call to go to Canada to minister,” he said. “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave youth ministry. The youth pastor does all the fun stuff and I really enjoyed working with our youth. But I said yes. The people in our church are the sweetest and they really helped make it an easy transition.”

What differences did Hamm find between the two positions?

“It can be a little intimidating becoming pastor but you realize it’s still the same people in the church and you can still have a great time,” Hamm said. “There’s always room to laugh. But the main thing youth ministers have is their senior pastor’s oversight. When you’re senior pastor — and I don’t want this to sound wrong — but when you’re senior pastor the buck stops with you. All the administration, all the details and all the things that go into making each ministry and service happen becomes part of your responsibility. Logistics! Wow, most people don’t have a clue all that goes on just to make a Sunday morning service happen and get to the point where you’re saying, ‘Now open your Bibles.’ You have to juggle details and lots of preparation before you can preach.”

Hamm said foremost is the prayer, study and preparation for the three sermons he brings each week: one Sunday morning, another Sunday evening and another Wednesday night.

“I’m an expository preacher,” Hamm said. “That means preaching based on the Bible and drawing meaning from it, from a passage of scripture. Book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse and at times word by word. That rather than me coming up with three catchy sermon points and a poem. There’s so much sensationalism in the religious landscape today we want to be a church and I want to be a teacher that does a good job of simply giving God’s word. I’ve found people are looking for truth and want the truth of God’s word. Not everybody is looking for this style of teaching but many are. We depend on Isaiah 55:11 that says when God’s word goes out it won’t return void. It will accomplish what God sent it to do.”

Hamm said it has been his experience expository teaching brings greater spiritual growth.

“I’ve seen it result in more growth both in myself and our people,” he said. “Much more than if I just give my own ideas or even a sermon with a lot of cute, trite sayings, funny stuff or one that’s a big, emotional tear jerker. Expository preaching is more like getting a satisfying meal at grandmother’s house.”

Hamm said he’s not always taught that way.

“The Lord led me to begin teaching expositionally mostly over the past couple of years,” he said. “I was taught it in seminary but didn’t teach that way as a youth pastor. But being pastor, I clearly saw I can’t solve people’s problems with my stories or ideas or with entertainment. It’s God who changes things. Right now we’re studying the book of Ephesians. It’s rewarding to hear people repeating scripture and theology from sermons from services. They really get it.”

Hamm said he teaches by topic at some weekly services, but Sunday mornings are reserved for exposition. He also said the Victory congregation sings old hymns due to their good theology, doctrine and praise to God.

“Some don’t like them anymore, but we do,” he said. “There’s so much history, so much scripture and good theology in them. We want to concentrate on Jesus and not a music leader or me the pastor. Our desire is to do all to the glory of God, not man. Not a personality.”

Hamm said Victory has created a youth curriculum that uses Bible memorization but stresses knowing good theology and understanding God’s word.

“It’s for children kindergarten through sixth grade and is on Wednesday nights,” he said. “It was created by a retired pastor here, Kevin Lucas, who was also instrumental in my shift to expository teaching. The course helps kids get God’s work in the heart and mind with an understanding of what it’s about. We also reach out to our neighborhood kids through our bus program.”

On the fun side — and maybe reflecting a bit of the youth pastor still in Hamm — is the church’s annual chili cook-off the last Wednesday of each October.

Who make’s the hottest chili?

“That would be me,” he said. “Some people can’t eat my chili. We make the event a little more fun by making it a funny name contest, too. We have winners not only for the best tasting but the funniest named chili. I know one year ‘Chili Chili Bang Bang’ won. My hot chili’s been named ‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.’”

Another annual event — more on the serious side, Hamm said — is an annual Christmas presentation. This year it will be Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. and is called “A Colonial Christmas.” Hamm said it is a dramatic-musical program set in 1717 which highlights both the country’s roots and the gospel. Whether for October’s chili or Christmas’ special programs, or any service any week of the year, Hamm said the public is always welcomed. There is also a Christmas Candlelight Service Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.

“We’re just a friendly church that preaches the word and we’d love Middle Georgians to know they’re always welcome,” he said. “And we want to be here for people who are searching. We’re here to help people spiritually with the truth and not just tickle their flesh or entertain them.”

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Victory Baptist Church

Address: 5687 Houston Rd., Macon, Ga. 31216

Phone: 478-788-2473

Leadership: Kenny Hamm, senior pastor

Worship: Sunday school 9:45 a.m., worship 11 a.m., evening worship 6 p.m., Wednesday services 6:30 p.m.

Website: www.maconvictory.org

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