A Conversation with James Moore
Why did you choose a life of ministry? Who influenced you?
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home under the influence of godly parents. We were actively involved in a good congregation that had preachers, elders and Bible school teachers that encouraged young people. My mother constantly invited preachers and fellow Christians into our home. Looking back on those early years, I see how God used godly role models and positive experiences to point the way to my life of ministry. Although I had wanted to go to a state university, become a mathematician and work for NASA, my parents saw that I attended Alabama Christian College, now Faulkner University.
Through the influence of Christian education, I chose ministry. I wish every child could have Christian parents, grow up in a good congregation and attend a Christian school.
How have churches in Florida changed in your 28 years of ministry there?
I have seen both positive and negative changes. Many congregations have grown and matured, several new ones planted, and a few have closed their doors. Brethren have become more united, although division exists on some fronts.
When I moved to Florida, churches were just beginning to stabilize from the problems caused by the non-institutional issues. However, the church grew. Then we faced the troubles of the Crossroads/Boston movement, and now it is worship styles and other things. A few congregations are introducing instrumental music in worship.
There is encouraging growth in congregations that are predominantly black or Hispanic. More churches are open to cultural diversity, although much improvement is needed.
What is the state of churches in Florida today?
The health of mainline churches is encouraging. There are many positives. The church is stronger, larger and healthier than ever. We are more evangelistic, more service-oriented and more mission-minded. There is a growing passion to help the poor — especially in foreign mission efforts.
There is more community awareness and involvement. Youth programs are stronger because of additional youth ministers and several local and statewide youth activities including SonQuest, which draws 2,000 teenagers each year.
More congregations have programs for our graying population. Congregations also have better leadership today. Churches are maturing because preachers are staying longer.
Christian camps contribute greatly to the state of Florida churches. The Mount Dora Children’s Home has been a powerful influence since 1945. Churches are committed to the authority of Scripture and to the Christ who offers purpose, hope and forgiveness.
You’ve said that, in Florida, even having the Spiritual Growth Workshop is an accomplishment. Why is that?
It is difficult to put together a program for the brotherhood because we are such a diverse group of believers. No matter how conscientious one strives to be in organizing a program for 4,000 people, it is difficult to please everyone.
Some things are viewed as opinion by one person but are interpreted as matters of doctrine by another — not because the teachings of Scripture have changed or that the Bible is obsolete, but because brethren are unable to come to the same understanding of a particular teaching.
However, when Florida churches came together to discuss the possibility of the workshop, there was overwhelming support and still is.
To what do you attribute the success of the Spiritual Growth Workshop?
Many say the workshop has been successful because of its positive tone, balanced program, respected leadership, statewide congregational involvement, biblical content and sharing a common vision. The workshop serves three main purposes: glorify God, encourage unity and fellowship among churches, and enhance spiritual health among believers and congregations. There is a motivation that comes when great numbers gather for worship and the common good of all.
Why did you decide to focus your ministry on child care?
I had been in ministry for 24 years, but there are times when God takes you down a new road. I was drawn to my ministry of Christian education and child care primarily because my wife Shirley had been a foster child at the Mount Dora Children’s Home. After moving to Florida we became involved at Christian Home and Bible School because our children attended there, and we saw the value of what was being done for needy children and in Christian education.
Many people encouraged me to accept the role when I was asked to serve as president. Shirley and I wanted to give something back to the place that had meant so much to her when she was a young girl needing guidance and direction. By working with today’s youth, we change tomorrow’s world.
Are churches doing enough with regard to child care?
The church needs to see its responsibility to practice pure and faultless religion by taking care of the fatherless, helpless and forgotten.
There’s a saying, “You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child.” Children will not have an opportunity in life if adults do not support them and take care of them. The greatest mission field in all the world is the hearts and minds of our children, and the church must wake up to this mission field. Who is better equipped to show the compassion of Christ to homeless children than the church?
Congregational support for child care has steadily declined over the past 20 years. One of the greatest needs in child care is for God’s people to wake up!
Matthew 25 nails it. We must take our blinders off and see the critical need of hurting humanity and become ministers of reconciliation.