Bobby Higginbotham has been a member of SURGE since 2016, and we love having him as a part of our community. Read on to learn about his journey as a pastor and his message of love.
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am a pastor. With a small group of people back in 2009 we started, and I now pastor, The Pathway church. We gather on Sundays, 10:30am, at Jason Lee Middle School. Nobody really knows what pastors do, so maybe this will be slightly interesting. The Bible compares a pastor to a shepherd. That’s really not that helpful to those of us who live in 21st century America. It simply means I am responsible for the people— the church— God has entrusted to my care. For me, that’s the people who have decided to be part of The Pathway church.
What does a pastor do? Like a shepherd’s relationship with his flock, my responsibility is to spiritually care for and protect the people of The Pathway. One of the most common ways I do that is teaching them about Jesus— who He is and what He taught, and helping them (as I learn myself), how to live and love like Jesus.
I also get the joy of walking with people in my church through some of the highest highs and lowest lows of life. Just today I was with a 65 year old single dad of 13 year old twins, cleaning out their house as they are having to down-size due to financial constraints. I’ve walked with families through the deaths of loved ones as young as just a few hours old, to the end of life in a nursing home, and everything in between. But I also get to celebrate incredible times! I get to be there for births, birthdays, baptisms and my favorite— weddings! Being a pastor is unlike anything else in the world. I’m grateful for the role I get to play— serving Jesus by serving people.
What was your inspiration/motivation to get started?
That’s such an interesting question. I was born into a Christian home. My parents are far from perfect, but they have always loved Jesus and encouraged (but didn’t force) me to do the same. When I was a child I realized, according to the Bible, no one is born a Christian. The Christian Gospel, put as concisely as I know how, is simply the reality that God saves sinners by grace alone through faith alone, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus alone. This is not something anyone is born believing! And as a pastor, I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to believe such a bold claim. But as a young child, I decided to believe, and that was the beginning of my journey in becoming a pastor.
I can’t say that I always knew I would be a pastor, but my sister remembers me sharing the desire when I was in middle school. I had a “crisis of belief” period after my second year of college— a season where I really wrestled with what I believed and why I believed it. It was at that time I finally decided that I was going to pursue ministry as a job. Of course, at the time, I had no idea I would end up starting a church, but it’s been an incredible adventure. It’s allowed me to serve, empathize, and grow alongside an incredibly diverse group of people. I’ve made huge mistakes along the way, hurt people in both ignorance and arrogance, learned to apologize and listen, and most importantly it has humbled me. I have been humbled to realize how big God’s love is and how beautiful and powerful it is to watch people encounter Him for the first time.
Who would benefit from the service you provide (your “ideal customer”)?
Another interesting question. As a church— our “ideal customer” is, well, anyone. For the purposes of this article, I will try to be more specific. We’re not just a social club or a “good deeds” organization. We are social, and we do believe passionately in doing good to others. But our primary purpose is to help people get to know God, and we believe the only way to know Him is by getting to know His Son, Jesus. We do that by helping people read, learn, understand, question, wrestle with, and ultimately live out the things Jesus and the New Testament teach us. So— if you’re interested in figuring out God (that’s a big task—I’m still learning), if you have questions about Jesus, or if you just want to explore what it means to be a Christian— we’re here for you!
I will also say honestly— we’re here for you even if you don’t believe in Jesus. If you have a need— physical, financial or otherwise— we would love to try and help. We want you to know Jesus. We want you to love Jesus. But even if you don’t— we still want to love and serve you. That’s why we’re here.
Tell us about one of the biggest obstacles you have faced in your work and how you overcame/are tackling it.
That’s easy! Because Christians are called to love everyone, our church and other churches who are obedient to that call, will welcome anyone into our midst. But when you’re willing to welcome anyone into your midst (the faithful, the doubter, the addicted, the adulterer, the liar, etc.), you often look like a bunch of hypocrites (because we are)!
The way we seek to overcome this is by welcoming anyone and everyone into our gatherings, Bible studies, events, etc., while establishing a clear standard of membership (we call our members “partners”). This clear standard helps everyone to know what they’re agreeing to before they join. Non-members are allowed to participate in everything we do aside from baptism, the Lord’s Supper (communion) and voting on decisions made by the church as a whole. Other than that, non-members are welcome and encouraged to participate, attend, ask questions, sit and listen— anything that’s encouraging to them.
What are your hopes for your business? Where do you see it five years from now?
We are a small church right now. We meet at Jason Lee middle school on Sunday mornings and have anywhere from 45-55 people in attendance. My sincere hope is that in 5 years the city of Tacoma knows that despite our size, they can call on us whenever there is a need, big or small, in our city. My hope is that they know we are for our city, that no matter someone’s age, gender, ethnicity, or religious belief, if they have a need, if they need to be served and cared for, The Pathway Church will do just that— no strings attached! We will do it in the name of Jesus— because Jesus is who we represent— but we will serve and love not because someone agrees with us, but because that’s what Jesus would do.
What made you choose Surge Tacoma? What has your experience been like and who would you recommend it for?
We’ve had many different offices over the last 10 years and Surge is the best by far! We chose it because it’s affordable, has private offices, has meeting spaces, and is filled with a diverse representation of Tacoma’s small business community. What we found when we got here was a staff that has been generous, consistent, supportive, and has gone above and beyond to make us feel at home. When I first moved in Ashley was our Community Manager, and Taylor just recently stepped in. But no matter who has been at the front desk we have felt welcomed, and valued. We have no plans to leave. Surge is stuck with us!
Where can people go to support your business?
People can visit our website to find out more about our message or simply visit us on Sunday mornings at 10:30! We meet every week at Jason Lee Middle School!
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