Joseph Barrett, as a young man, had no plans to become a minister of the gospel. Instead, he was going to be a rock star. God, on the other hand, had other plans for the new pastor at Central Baptist Church in Italy.
Barrett, who will preach his first sermon Sunday as pastor of the church, played in rock bands while in high school and college. He plays piano, stringed instruments and percussion. “That’s where I was headed,” he said. But, as much as he loved music and as much as he longed to be a rock star, Barrett loved God as well and had grown up watching his family serve God.
Barrett, 27, said he was saved when he was about eight years old.
“I was a young child and I had spoken with my parents and prayed to receive the Lord,” he said. “Then we went and spoke with my grandfather, who is a pastor, and he came and baptized me.”
Barrett said he fought a long battle with God trying to avoid becoming a preacher, but God eventually won. “The job as pastor,” he said,” has long hours and low pay. After you have been there for a while, you occasionally feel unappreciated. Pastoring a church is not a job that draws people based on the perks.”
The young pastor said he has seen the life of a pastor in a small town as his grandfather was pastor of a church in Valley Mills, a town smaller than Italy.
Barrett said his grandfather founded a mission organization in Mexico while he was pastoring in Valley Mills. They traveled to Mexico several times a year and performed various ministries including medical, construction, agricultural aide, music education and pastoral education.
Barrett eventually surrendered to the ministry shortly after graduating from Baylor University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in media production.
Barrett started working in the business world at a news station but the excitement didn’t last long. He said he had proposed to his girlfriend, Natalie, but still couldn’t figure out what to do with his life.
“After a period of discernment, I felt the call to the ministry full time,” Barrett said. He was also serving as a song leader at a church at the same time but knew God wanted him to do more.
“That’s when the direction changed,” Barrett said. A year later he started attending Logsdon Seminary at Hardin Simmons University. He added, “I have confirmed many times that this is my calling.”
Barrett, whose mother is a professor of Spanish at Baylor University and father is an attorney, grew up in Temple with his sister Katy.
He graduated from Belton High School in 2001 after two years in high school. He said the high school offered an experimental program where a student could study at his/her own pace. He entered Baylor University at the age of 16.
“I have been an old man, in my own mind, since I was a child,” he said. “I always valued being independent and ahead of the game. For me, it was finally, ‘I can breathe’ when I got to college.”
Barrett and his wife met in the youth group at First Baptist Church in Temple.
Barrett said, “We fell in love on a mission trip in Mexico. Our personalities are – together – we are a whole person.” The couple celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in June.
Natalie earned a Masters of Art Degree in Religion with an emphasis on Theology and Church History from Hardin-Simmons University. She is planning to further her education by pursing a counseling degree with emphasis on family and marriage therapy.
The couple created a blog entitled The Bread and Wine. This site exists for the purpose of blogging in the theological community. It has links, open discussions, original articles and sermons.
At Italy, Barrett said he hopes to integrate tradition and faithfulness with a way to communicate to all ages. One way that he does that is by building relationships.
“I see the visions and I see malfunctioning relationships, between different sections even within the church community and I want to make that something that is integrated. Jeremy (the youth minister) and I are working on a strategy to integrate the youth with all rest of the ages of this church. It’s all about bringing people together under Christ and redrawing the boundaries in wider and wider circles around the community,” he explained.
Barrett said he wants to see more theological emphasis and to spend more time in deep theological conversation. He said many come to church to hear the same basic story about Jesus and then go home when the service is over. ”Often,” he said, “there is not a lot of deep theological reflection.”
Barrett said he is striving to reach all ages, put them together in deep theological reflection and the results will be the building of trust between all ages. He said he would also like to put together a mission trip for church members of all ages.
The couple said they are excited to be in Italy. They have been busy as they relocate from Rochester to Italy. They are in the process of purchasing a home and plan to close on the property in early August.
Natalie said they are looking forward to getting settled into their new home.
Barrett considers himself a small town pastor. He said he wants to know his congregation and their families, something that is often unobtainable in larger cities.
Barrett said he sees a lot of good things happening at Central Baptist Church. He said he is impressed with the talent of the youth and music ministers, Jeremy Beggs and Guilherme Almeida respectively. He added that the congregation could not be more welcoming and courteous. “It’s been awesome to see the people I get to be around.”
Barrett served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Rochester from July 2008 until July 2012. Prior to that, he was a youth minister at Northwestern Baptist Church in Midland, a technical/media director at First Baptist Church in Temple and music minister at Grace Temple Baptist Church in Waco.