Pastor Xavier and Lady Rinnita Thompson
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Hundreds of seasoned saints, hip-hoppers and the newly converted gather every Sunday at Southern Missionary Baptist Church and that is just the way Pastor Xavier Thompson likes it.
"Our motto is ‘One Church for All Generations,' where people of all ages and all backgrounds can come and find ministry that is attractive and relevant whether they are in my grandmother's, my mother's, my generation or my children's generation," said the 35 year old pastor.
Being young has not hindered his ability to lead and be embraced by a diverse congregation of 600+ members. One factor is the range of individual ministries offered for men, women, children and youth that provide spiritual growth, Christian fellowship, leadership development, social interaction and emotional support. But, a major reason is likely the preaching and pastoral skills of Rev. Thompson.
"My main goals are to faithfully preach and teach the word of God without compromise, to be true to scripture, to preach with fidelity of doctrine, and to help transform men and women into the person that God has ordained them to be and that is to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "I love preaching, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. That's what I was called to do and was anointed to do from a child, even before I was born."
Rev. Thompson was called to preach at the age of 7 and installed at his first church, Saint Paul Baptist Church of Pacoima, at 21 years old. He served there 11 ½ years and he credits that time as being key to his accomplishments at Southern Baptist.
"Without a doubt, I don't think we would be able to experience the success we have now had it not been for my previous assignment. Saint Paul Church was boot camp for me and fully prepared me for my current position. It afforded me the wonderful opportunity to sharpen my skills as a preacher and as a leader," he said.
As for being a pastor, Rev. Thompson admitted he doesn't enjoy it as much as preaching because he said, "You must make the tough choices that nobody else is willing to make, but need to be made. Pastors must also give leadership to people, telling them what we're going to do versus what we're not going to do. Of course, there is always fallout. It's difficult for people to handle change and go into another direction."
Yet, he loves what he does and is optimistic about movement of Christ in the 21st Century. "I am an advocate for change. I believe the church must take advantage of every medium or social outlet, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, meet the people where they are. The church must change and shift with the times, however, we must do that without compromising our standards and our conviction as it relates to the teachings of Jesus Christ," said Rev. Thompson.
He is also encouraged by the increase of non-denominational ministries and said, "I believe the future is bright. Mainstream denominational churches will always be here. You have the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers who have sacrificed so much, so I believe the hand of God is upon them whether it's Baptist, Church of God in Christ, or Methodist.
"However, I do believe God is doing a new thing and there is a paradigm shift. You cannot put God in a box. God is raising up a Frederick K.C. Price and there is a group of people he will reach. T.D. Jakes comes along and will reach some, and Jamal Bryant, who is relevant to the youth and young adult who say, ‘Preach, Black Man.'
"The enemy's job is to divide us. I don't think mainstream churches should ‘gang-bang' against the new start-up non-denominational ministries whom God is leading in different ways that are perhaps, more forward-thinking and progressive-minded. But, I don't think the new churches should discredit or devalue the work and worth of mainline denominational churches.
"There's a place for all of us and it is important that we are all open to the move of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day, it's about the kingdom of God," said Rev. Thompson.
"My advice to pastors is to be true to thyself. In the words of Charles Stanley, ‘Obey God and leave all consequences to Him.' We also invite everyone to come check us out on Sunday. I promise readers if they visit us, they won't be disappointed," he added.
Southern Missionary Baptist Church is located at 4678 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. For information, call (323) 731-2703 or email