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Pastor Johnny Hunt: God’s Answer for a Fatherless Church

Pastor Johnny Hunt

The church’s men are facing a crisis right now. Too many men grow up without father figures, without learning how to deal with their strongholds, and without being taught how to love their families like Jesus.

Pastor Johnny Hunt can relate. Growing up, he didn’t have a lot of great male figures in his life. In fact, he didn’t really have any. Yet despite Hunt’s lack of male mentorship, God led and shaped him to become a pastor for 43 years, the senior vice president of Evangelism and Leadership for the North American Mission Board, an author of 33 books and devotionals—and a mentor to many Christian men.

Hunt gives God all the credit for where he is now in life. After all, he certainly wasn’t set up for success. His dad walked away from the family when Hunt was just 7 years old, and his mother worked two jobs to keep food on the table for six children.

“No one in my immediate family were professing believers,” Hunt says. “No one attended church. And we didn’t pray. We didn’t have Bibles—I had never owned a Bible.”

It didn’t take long for Hunt to get involved in some shady hobbies. He dropped out of school at 16 and spent far too much time gambling, drinking, and hustling people at pool tables.

But that all changed one day.

“At the age of 20, a guy invited me to church,” he says. “And after five weeks in church, God really brought me under conviction.”

Words like “conviction,” “sin,” and “repentance” weren’t really part of Hunt’s vocabulary at the time, but his salvation was genuine nonetheless. In less religious terms, he suddenly realized just how badly he needed Jesus one snowy Sunday night in Wilmington, North Carolina.

From that day on, everything changed. Almost immediately, he stopped drinking alcohol and lost a significant portion of his vocabulary (mostly words he learned in the pool room).

“God just redeemed my past,” Hunt says.

He went from fatherless teen to leader of the largest local men’s conference in the Southern Baptist Convention. Pre-pandemic, Johnny Hunt's Men's Conference gathered 31,000 online attendees and 5,000 in person.

In 2018, after pastoring First Baptist Church of Woodstock in Woodstock, Georgia, for 33 years, he was nominated to become the senior vice president of Evangelism and Leadership for the North American Mission Board. He loves teaching and equipping other pastors for their leadership roles. “It’s what gets me up out of bed in the morning,” he says.

Equipping Men to Defeat Strongholds

One of the major things he teaches these men—especially those in leadership—is how to walk free from strongholds.

“If you don't demolish your strongholds, the strongholds will demolish you,” Hunt says. “The reformers put it this way: you must pray that God kills sin in you or your sin will kill you.”

Most Christians would readily agree to that statement. But putting it into practice is a whole different story. Issues like alcohol abuse, anger, drug addiction, and more still plague the church today. And you don’t need to depend on experience to arrive at that conclusion. Barna’s landmark 2014 study revealed that as many as 64% of professing Christian men watch pornography at least once a month.

So how does a Christian man who grew up without a stable father figure deal with his strongholds as an adult?

Hunt says it’s all about your mind.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man,” he says. “The greatest temptation is not the person or the event. It’s the struggle with your mind. The battle is won or lost in the mind. So that's why the Bible always talks about renewing your mind. When David was getting right with God in Psalm 51, he said, ‘Create in me a clean heart.’”

This insight becomes even more important as men deal with stressful seasons—such as what we’ve experienced in the last year. Financial strain, marital tension, isolation, and health issues can make the spiritual battle that much harder.

But as God’s men renew their minds in His Word and surrender to the Holy Spirit’s daily leadership, they’ll discover a heavenly Father figure who’s better than any this world could offer.

Come be encouraged as Pastor Johnny Hunt preaches at the 40 Days and 40 Nights of Gospel Music event at the Ark Encounter! Tickets available now.