The Pastor's Study: Kenneth Curry of Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda

by Caleb Stallings on June 11, 2024

Pastor Kenneth Curry preaches at Gateway Seminary’s chapel service.
Pastor Kenneth Curry preaches at Gateway Seminary’s chapel service.

How did God call you into pastoral ministry?

I received my call to preach as a senior in high school. I preached my first sermon the same month I graduated from high school. I went away to college at Oral Roberts University and wrestled with what a call to ministry would look like for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a lawyer, so I studied psychology and communications, receiving my Bachelor’s degree in those areas in 1995. I then earned a Master’s degree in Christian Education and continued to wrestle with a full-time call to ministry.

In Tulsa, I was first exposed to the concept that churches had full-time staff members. I worked several years in the social services/nonprofit arena in Tulsa and eventually moved back to the Southern California area where I was born and raised. It was in that move that God cornered me in. I was still working in social services/nonprofit, and three months after returning, I was offered a job at Friendship. Some twenty-two years ago, that job led to multiple ministry opportunities.

Because of that job, I learned how to pastor God’s people from my predecessor, Pastor James Carrington, our first pastor at Friendship, and others. That initial job was my training ground. I made many mistakes, but God kept me humble and taught me. Eventually, when my predecessor, our first pastor, retired, I was in the line for succession, but I needed to apply for the position. It was a tumultuous process, but God was faithful to me. I have been pastoring Friendship for ten years but have served at Friendship for over 22 years! It’s been an interesting journey.

What is a Bible story or passage that you think best describes the role of a pastor?

I think Moses’ Biblical story aligns most with a pastor’s life, role, and responsibilities. It shows the various complexities of the job. You care for the people, and you have to lead the people. You represent the people before God. You live among the people. You hear the people’s “problems” and seek resolution and direction as much as possible. Pastoring is complex work, but it is rewarding, especially when you KNOW you are called to the work!

Pastoring/Shepherding is more than a vocation; it is a calling. Moses was called in Exodus chapter three, and that is what HAD to carry him throughout his lifetime for the required work.

What are your favorite books?
  • The Resilient Pastor by Glenn Packiam
  • Almost EVERYTHING from Charles Stanley. I have read several of his books, including:
    • When the Enemy Strikes
    • Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible
    • Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit
    • Living the Extraordinary Life: 9 Principles to Discover It
    • Landmines in the Path of the Believer: Avoiding the Hidden Dangers
    • In Step with God
    • How to Reach Your Full Potential for God
    • Courageous Faith: My Story from a Life of Obedience
  • Several from Tony Evans:
    • Detours
    • U-Turns
    • Kingdom Agenda
    • Kingdom Man
    • The Power of Jesus Name
What brings financial health to churches?
  • Faithful giving by members.
  • Honest & courageous leadership from the pastor and the board that includes clear, accurate, transparent reports.
  • A financial plan that includes savings and debt reduction.
  • Annual/Regular stewardship teaching.
  • The church practices tithing itself as a model to its members. We give away 10% of our income at Friendship to outreach efforts, other ministries, etc.
What is your advice to families who are considering whether to leave a portion of their estate to Kingdom causes?

Please do it. You have faithfully given as a living believer and should do so when you go to see Jesus! It speaks to your church family and your biological family that you prioritize stewardship and the faithfulness of God. It says you believe the Kingdom of God is worth investing in. It also leaves your biological family a model to follow. Leaving a financial legacy ensures that Kingdom work continues and that you STILL have a part in that work! We talk about legacy a lot at Friendship. Our church is old enough to be a legacy (60 years this year) but young enough to remember and rehearse the names of those who invested much to make Friendship Baptist Church the reality today!

How has God used ministry to bring you closer to Him?

Like Moses, I must go to God to lead His people constantly. Being a pastor has deepened my prayer life because I do not take this job, call, or ministry lightly. This is more than a vocation to me. It is my calling, and I am responsible to God, my church, and the beloved community. I realize I am human and have faults, failings, and inadequacies. The only way I overcome myself is with HIM. So, I constantly go to God. I ask for His help, favor, and forgiveness. I am dependent on Him, and I aim to STAY that way!

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