KANSAS CITY, Mo—More than 9,000 ministry leaders and church members submitted their pastors to win Midwestern Seminary’s Pastor Appreciation Month $10,000 giveaway, half of which was dedicated to a family vacation and the other half to a church need. Additionally, the seminary released encouraging content and gave out free resources to honor pastors during the month of October.
“Pastoring the Lord’s church is an incredible privilege,” said President Jason Allen. “And yet, it can also be one of the most difficult things a man can do this side of heaven. The daily demands, the spiritual concern for his flock, the right preparation for preaching God’s Word, and much more can take a toll on every pastor. That is why I am so thankful we always seek to raise awareness of Pastor Appreciation Month and also bless one such worthy pastor with a giveaway.”
Matthew Aston, one of the many faithful pastors submitted for this year’s giveaway, was randomly selected to win the $10,000 award. Matthew serves as lead pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in Wichita, KS.
Matthew with a church member, Cole, who recommended him for the giveaway.
A Faithful Pastor Aiming at Longevity
Olivet Baptist Church has had three lead pastors since it first began in 1951. The first pastor served the church for 35 years. During his tenure, the church outgrew their sanctuary space twice, leading to two separate building campaigns that more than tripled their building space. The second pastor, Ron Pracht, faithfully led the church for 28 years. Matthew expressed his desire to follow in these pastors’ footsteps and pursue longevity at Olivet, even hoping to stay for more than 35 years by God’s grace.
Olivet Baptist outgrew their sanctuary space and turned it into a gymnasium.
Matthew’s path to ministry began in his college years. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in early elementary education from the University of Oklahoma with his wife Courtney, he never previously desired pastoral ministry. But when Courtney expressed her excitement with the classes they were both taking, Matthew only grew in his conviction that he was made for something else, which he came to discover to be pastoral ministry.
After graduation, Matthew pursued his master’s degree from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. As a member of First Baptist Farmersville at the time, he pursued his theological education as a commuter while being mentored by his faithful local church pastor.
Matthew then moved his growing family to Wichita, KS to serve as the youth pastor at Olivet Baptist Church. The church quickly realized his giftings and made him the lead pastor within the first two years at the church. Ron, the previous lead pastor, transitioned to an associate pastor to help and support the transition for Matthew and the church.
The current sanctuary at Olivet Baptist Church is home to almost 200 weekly attendees.
During his 10 years at Olivet, Matthew’s family grew, as did the church. Matthew and Courtney had five children, two biologically and three adopted, who are now between ages 3-13. Courtney stays at home with the kids to homeschool while working part time at the church. Despite stereotypes of pastor’s kids struggling to find their place at church, Matthew expressed his deep gratitude to God for his church that has welcomed his family well and made his kids love being at Olivet.
Reflecting on the growth the church has seen lately, he said, “I don’t view myself as incredibly gifted or even desiring of a megachurch ministry. I feel as if the Lord has made me for this church, to faithfully shepherd 200-300 people, and I’m grateful that it’s my heart’s delight to do so.”
An Encouraging Recommendation
Matthew was recommended for the giveaway by one of his church members, Cole Grayson. Cole and his wife, Courtney, began attending the church six months ago after moving from Emporia, KS.
Reflecting on what Matthew’s ministry and Olivet Baptist Church has meant to his family, Cole said, “Matthew is the kind of guy who will run to greet you in the parking lot before you leave just to see how you’re doing. His expositional preaching and conviction to disciple the church have been so refreshing and enjoyable for us. It was an easy recommendation.”
Matthew Aston behind the pulpit, where he spends most Sunday mornings preaching.
Cole, graduating this December with a degree in Health and Human Performance, plans to attend Midwestern Seminary next Fall to participate in the seminary’s Shepherds Fellowship Cohort. Similar to Matthew, he’s expressed his dissatisfaction with work outside of the pastorate and received affirmation of a call to ministry.
He shared, “I want to spend my life leading people to Jesus and helping people know Him better. Matthew has been such an encouragement to me in that regard.”
After hearing he won this year’s $10,000 giveaway, Matthew said, “It was an emotional whirlwind! I felt grateful and encouraged but also guilty and in turmoil on how to steward the money well. All in all this gift has been another reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness and kindness to our family after serving at Olivet for 10 years, and another marker for this encouraging season.” The Astons are planning a well-deserved vacation in May 2024.
Also, during Pastor Appreciation Month, Midwestern Seminary gave out free eBooks of Spurgeon the Pastor by Assistant Professor Geoff Chang, article and video content aimed at pastoral encouragement, and additional book set giveaways throughout the month on social media.
For more information about Midwestern Seminary’s Pastor Appreciation Month efforts, visit mbts.edu/pam.