The late G.A. Mangun was my pastor for only a few months. He was our presbyter for over 50 years. I learned from him – by observation, which led to my poor efforts at duplication.
I learned: get on message and stay on message. At every sectional meeting, G.A. Mangun had a message, “Pray, fast & reach the lost.” This was the message at every meeting! I learned, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” I later apply the principles of prayer-chains and focused prayer that I learned from him.
In the late 70’s, Sis. Mangun heard me preach a youth rally in Colfax, Louisiana. She suggested to Bro. Mangun that I preach a weekend at Alexandria. I didn’t add anything; but how much I learned that weekend. It was shortly after the Jim Jones debacle in Guyana. The weekend I was there a lady had written a letter to the newspaper likening Bro. Mangun to cult leader Jim Jones. If that were not enough, that week a high profile fellow in the church had abandoned his wife and children.
That Sunday you would not have known there was a letter in the newspaper, and you’d have thought every saint in Alexandria was doing well. No doubt both situations were hurtful, but you would have not known there was a thing wrong. I learned – don’t let other people’s negative stuff affect your worship or leadership.
That same Sunday, after the evening service Bro. Mangun gave Norma and me to the care of someone in the church. He took a sinner couple who had visited to get a bite at Howard Johnson’s. Whoever hosted us took us to Howard Johnson’s as well. There was Bro. Mangun unabashedly spending his time on reaching for the lost. His behavior matched his message. I learned – that reaching to sinners is more important than any visiting preacher.
G.A. Mangun was never boring. From wildly decorated church buses to his radical focus on reaching people – he did things that pushed the envelope. I’m sure, some things didn’t work but G.A. Mangun did not focus on what did not work. He celebrated what had worked and was working. I learned – it is to have a personality, to try different things and to accept that everybody isn’t going to like it.
I learned that he expected people to be converted EVERY week. Bro. Mangun wasn’t waiting on a special event or evangelist to come to Alexandria. The lost would be preached to every week. It worked for him and later it worked for me. I practice that approach to this day. Masterful Preaching is my book that attempts to reclaim the concept of preaching to the lost. If you are interested in owning the book . . . click here.
We pastored a very young church In Vidalia, LA. It was a church less than two years-old with a handful of people. Bro. and Sis. Mangun came as “pinch-hitters” for our ill district superintendent. There would have been more in the Youth Sunday School Class in Alexandria than were in that special service in Vidalia, but the Manguns rocked the place. That night we baptized Curtis Thornton’s dad in Jesus Name. Curtis had been our first convert in Vidalia. I learned – don’t let the size of a crowd affect how you minister; every soul counts.
I learned from G.A. Mangun that whatever else you are asked to do, the local church is the main thing. In later years, he and Sis. Mangun would say to me and others, “Don’t do this like we did it.” They didn’t miss Sundays in Alexandria to preach for anybody or do anything. Learning from them, for years our family vacation was Monday through Saturday. Sunday was the main thing, and it was time to be home.
Finally, at the memorial service for a man of huge impact, I noticed people from Central Louisiana walk by in everything from an expensive suits bought at Jerry Lee’s Menswear to their best pair of khakis or jeans. One gentleman had on his best overalls. To G.A. Mangun – a soul, was a soul, was a soul; every soul was important. He pastored them all. He loved them all.
I wish I’d pay more attention and that I’d had more time – there is much more I could have learned. Things I did learn:
1. Get on message – stay on message!
2. Don’t let negative things affect worship or leadership.
3. Reaching sinners is more important than most other things.
4. God’s work doesn’t have to be vanilla.
5. Plan to see people converted EVERY week. Preach in a way where they can!
6. Don’t let the size of the audience affect how you minister.
7. The local church you lead is the main thing.
8. Love the saints . . . love the people.
Some of you will have learned stuff from G.A. Mangun that I did not have the privilege to learn. You spent more time closer to his fire. Please add to my poor array in the comment section below.
Added note from C. Coon. I don’t have the insight, focus or sacrificial mindset G.A. Mangun possessed. I do have a book (written tongue in cheek) that addresses Questions Pentecostal Preachers Ask.