“The hardest thing about being a dad is to know that you have to raise each child differently, to father them for who they are, not who I’d like them to be. God gets to choose who they are,” says Pastor Phillip Pointer, Sr., pictured here with his family. From left, daughter Gabriella, son Phillip, Jr., wife Keya, and son Elijah.

My father said, “Everything you do with your children is making memories. Make as many positive ones as you can.” Pastor Phillip Pointer of Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock weaves that message into all facets of his life. Referring to himself as an extreme introvert, he muses ironically, “I’m called though to seek to influence a body of people bringing glory to God and good to the community.” He has been doing just that in central Arkansas since June 2012. It’s a big job. Founded in 1892 in a nameless storehouse with four members, Saint Mark is now an anchor in the midtown community with more than 8,000 members strong.

In the preaching ministry since his teens, Pointer pastored a congregation in Alexandria, Virginia prior to coming to Arkansas. That is where he met his wife Keya. “Keya’s grandmother was a member at the church and suggested Keya visit.” He warmly describes Keya as “dynamic”. After their meeting, she transferred law schools from Duke to Georgetown. They later married.

Phillip and Keya Pointer have three children, Gabriella, 14, Phillip, Jr., 8, and Elijah, 7. The Pointers have enjoyed their move to Arkansas. Pastor Pointer shares, “Little Rock is a great place for families. D.C. is so crowded. The traffic and amount of travel time to just to go to the store can be prohibitive to family time.” Pastor Pointer shares with Little Rock Family their purpose-driven balance of home life and church life along with a dream come true for Saint Mark Baptist Church and the community.

Little Rock Family: – How do you walk the walk and talk the talk?

Phillip Pointer – It is very difficult to balance time and attention, but responsibility to lead a church is secondary to leading a home. I’m continually learning how to strike a balance. We sanctify our family time and designate specific family times.

LRF – What is your parenting philosophy?

PP – It is challenging to nurture children in the current culture. Kids’ shows don’t show images of morality. I don’t want our children to be naïve, but I want them to be able to filter through life with a lens of right and wrong. I want to model faithful male love for Keya to our children, demonstrating acceptance and appreciation. Also, we don’t hide mistakes and weaknesses. Showing the humanity of authority figures is a very helpful thing. We learn from people and who they really are.

LRF – What is your favorite parenting advice?

PP – I’m learning as I go, but exposing children to strong faith is key. They can’t do right and wrong just because of their parents. They have to have a higher send of right and wrong in relation to a higher authority and system of faith that develops a conscience. Parents need to have clear, defined roles. Sometimes your children won’t like you, but then they develop a better sense of character. My primary responsibility is to disciple our kids and help them understand who Christ is. Teaching the word of God at home is conversational and organic. Life will provide you with opportunities for discussion and making applications. We want to create positive memories that carry a message and stick with them.

LRF - How does Saint Mark Baptist Church help families and the community?

PP – Saint Mark exists for the community. It has a significant history of outreach with a very vibrant children and youth ministry that’s nurtured by staff and volunteers. This includes study series, school visits, programs, lock-ins, trips, and more, and working alongside parents to disciple children. We’re working to develop and teach good citizens of the world. “You. Grow. Here.” is a phrase used at Saint Mark because we’re truly maturing spiritually. We are made up of all kinds of families, all socioeconomic groups, multi-racial and ethnic. People can grow here and kids are safe with us. We’re making a long term investment in families and children’s lives.

This spring Saint Mark Baptist Church will break ground on a state-of-the-art 37,000 square foot youth center. The Dream Center will not only give Saint Mark children and teens a safe, loving environment to develop; it will also be available to the community as a place to foster educational growth in children.