Conference Names Rev. Mike Tyson as the New VCI Director
Bringing a unique skill set to this expanded position, Rev. Mike Tyson is all about church revitalization and excited about new plans for the Vibrant Church Initiative.
In the late 1990s, when the feeling he describes as “chronic indigestion” would not go away, Mike Tyson finally discerned his uneasiness was, in fact, the Holy Spirit prompting him to pursue the ministry. “With a degree in economics and minors in Business and History from SMU, I had been working in the banking industry as a commercial lender for over 15 years, and owned my own business before even considering the ministry,” admits Mike. Flashing forward to 2015, Rev. Mike Tyson will step into the Texas Annual Conference offices in the expanded position of VCI Director this July, to spearhead the next phase of the already-successful Vibrant Church Initiative. “I’ve known Mike for almost a decade and feel he is ideally suited as a process person to coordinate many details on behalf of all the churches we have -- and will continue to add to – VCI,” notes Dr. Jesse Brannen, director of the TAC Center for Congregational Excellence. “Mike’s arrival on staff will enable me to focus on enhancing our discipleship and lay leader development plans.”
B. T. Williamson, Assistant to the Bishop echoes Jesse, describing Mike as “a second-career clergy, who felt God's calling for a long time.” Adds B.T., “He brings his corporate world experience of creative management into the life of the church. Mike will be a leadership asset for VCI given his relational abilities and keen analytical skills. His diverse appointments have given him a wide range of local church experience. The Texas Annual Conference is blessed to have Mike on board.”
Mike’s ministry pathway to the conference office included unique challenges and surprises that have become part of his career testimony. A longtime member of St. Luke’s UMC, Houston, Mike had been active as a youth working as a day camp counselor and running the gym. And later as an adult, being a high school and adult Sunday school teacher for several years when he sensed a calling into fulltime ministry.
Mike and wife Michele relocated to Dallas and he attended Perkins School of Theology while he served as a student local pastor and associate pastor alongside Rev. Stan Copeland at Lover’s Lane UMC. “Interestingly, “ adds Mike, “I graduated from seminary 20 years to the day after my undergraduate graduation from SMU.”
His first appointment within the Texas Annual Conference was at Lufkin UMC where he served as the associate pastor. “There, I primarily preached for the contemporary worship service where it grew from 140 to over 200 in worship. Mike also supervised youth ministry, missions, and evangelism and started a thriving men’s ministry. He joins the conference staff, coming from St. John’s UMC in Texas City where he experienced, in effect, a new church start following a devastating fire in 2009. “Before my arrival in January 2011, the church had boldly chosen to relocate across town. However, in many ways the church was just hanging on. But God, through the amazing leaders and people of St. John’s, turned it around and we opened a new 14,000-sq-ft building in 2012 and attendance is approaching the 200 mark,” he notes.
Mike and Michele are nearing empty nester status with a married son, and daughters in college and high school, along with two dogs that serve as his sidekicks when hunting or sailing. His business background and church revitalization experience over the years is positioning Mike for his next ministry adventure. “As the incoming director of VCI, I am looking forward to working with churches around the TAC and helping them become more vibrant as the church God is calling them to be,” adds Mike. He’s excited about launching an abbreviated VCI 2.0, which enables churches to get into the process sooner and have access to experts in the key areas of church operation – from worship to communication. “I have a relatively unique skill set in business and ministry applications, so I look forward to making a deep impact – one church at a time, and doing a lot of listening.”