He's Been 'Talking About Jesus' for 40 Years
SAN ANGELO, TX — Minister Paul Shero, best known in San Angelo for his prolific radio and Internet ads, celebrated 40 years at the Southgate Church of Christ Thursday evening with his congregation and friends in the Crystal Ballroom of the Cactus Hotel.
Paul has led the Southgate Church of Christ since he and his wife, Patsy, were lured to San Angelo by what Paul laughed as he said, “some very smart elders.” The San Angelo elders came to hear him preach in his old church in Madill, Oklahoma, a small town east of Ardmore and way north of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Colorado and Jackson Church of Christ needed a new pastor. That Sunday, they asked the young pastor to move to San Angelo.
“I was 27 when we came here, but I always wanted to live in San Angelo,” said the former Patsy Jennings, who has been married to Paul since she was 18 years old, in 1968. “I just love that man!” she said.
Patsy said she wasn’t nervous one bit about the new challenge. She said she saw how Paul built a congregation of loyal church members in Madill. Paul, on the other hand, said he was “scared to death!”
“Paul was a very good preacher, but he had to learn how to be a minister,” Patsy
Paul explained relayed a story about ministering.
“I went to see an old lady who was dying in the hospital. She was a sweet old lady. And for some reason, before I left the room, I felt the need to kiss her. So I kissed her on the forehead and she started to cry. And she said, ‘No one except the nurses has The episode taught Shero that as part of his ministry, some people, particularly senior citizen ladies, needed hugs. “So I made it my mission to hug every little ‘ol lady at the back door of the church. If they didn’t want a hug, they went out a different door,” Shero said. “It turned into a great ministry, so I started hugging everyone.”
A preacher knows the Bible and can deliver great sermons. Shero has a natural talent to deliver the message of Jesus Christ in a charismatic way from the pulpit.
But preaching is only a very small part of leading a church. It is the day-to-day coaching and mentoring of congregants, and church administration, that often takes its toll on ministers. The average tenure at one church for a minister is somewhere around 3.6 years, according to the General Baptist Journal. Shero has lasted 40. What is his secret?
Ward Lusk helped organize Thursday’s celebration for Shero. He’s been with Southgate Church of Christ since 2002, and has known Shero since Lusk was 15. He met the preacher while working in a paint store where he waited on Shero.
“Paul is not the kind of person who gets hung up on processes or ideals, he gets hung up on people. He loves people and he loves God. He doesn’t allow anything get in the way with what is God’s will,” Lusk said. “I’ve seen him stand up and do the right thing when it was not the easiest thing to do. I think people respect that. That respect people have for him within the church and in the whole community is the secret to his success.”
Terry Gibson was attending another Church of Christ and was attracted to Shero’s preaching right after the Sheros arrived at Colorado at Jackson Church of Christ. “He’s a great storyteller,” Gibson said. “He frequently talks about when he was growing up, his father had a wooden paddle hung on his refrigerator that had the inscription carved into it that read, ‘I need thee every hour,’” Gibson recalled. Shero grew up in a home full of brothers. Today, Gibson is an elder at Southgate. “He’s dedicated, loving, and most of all, very approachable,” Gibson said.
Ronnie Cole, a member of the church since Shero arrived said, “there’s some chemistry there,” between Shero and the congregation. “He genuinely cares about people.”
Above: The congregation of the Southgate Church of Christ honored Paul Shero's 40 years as their minister at the Crystal Ballroom at the Cactus Hotel. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
As part of Shero’s outreach, he speaks to the community at large. For years he has written a weekly column, and recorded radio spots that begin with the signature line that shoots directly at the heart of the matter: “This is Paul Shero, and I’m talking about Jesus.” The 60-second spots launch right into short message about Jesus from the Bible. We have embedded several of his best in this article.
The public-facing marketing is also Shero’s local ministry, where the entire city of San Angelo and the surrounding areas are his target markets. I asked Shero what he sees are the most challenging problems facing the church in San Angelo.
“The biggest mistake we’ve made as a greater church body of believers is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be marginalized. We no longer have a great enough voice in many of the larger moral issues facing us, like abortion,” he said.
The larger national moral failings have trickled down into San Angelo’s community, Shero said.
“We have way too many people using drugs, and that impoverishes people and robs them of their morality if they are addicted to something.
“And that’s the catalyst for a whole bunch of other stuff, like when our children are abused. Why isn’t that barrier there? People say you shouldn’t hurt a child, but when you’re on drugs, you’ve lost your mind, so then why do barriers matter at all?” he asked.
“But those kinds of shameful things we just want to be quiet about them and say they don’t matter. But they do!”
“Now, the answer to all of this is to turn to Christ, of course, but it’s also our duty as Christians to say we don’t do this. This is not who we are,” he said.
The Southgate Church of Christ meets every Sunday at 528 Country Club Rd. at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Bible study is at 9:30 a.m.