by Michael McGinnis
for the Oak Hills Crossings
After nearly a year-long search, Fareed Tulbah was named as the new singles minister and associate pulpit minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas in June 2004.
A native of Houston, Fareed previously served as minister to singles, minister of discipleship, and pulpit minister at churches in San Antonio, Austin and Houston. He is a 1995 graduate of the University of Texas with a BBA in Marketing, and received a Master in Theology degree with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth in 2005. His wife Becki, from Plainview, Texas, is a classically-trained singer who is completing work on her doctorate. The son of a Palestinian father and a Texas Czech-Catholic mother, Fareed converted from Islam to Christianity shortly after his senior year in high school.
According to many singles at Oak Hills, the 31-year-old pastor and teacher was their original favorite for the job, having twice led retreats for them and spoken at conferences they attended. But when the opening was first announced in 2003, Fareed had just taken a similar role at a 2,000-member church in Houston, and was unavailable for the post.
In Houston, Fareed was responsible for the church's discipleship program, attendance had doubled in the young adult Sunday morning Bible studies, and he had filled the pulpit four times in 2004. But he was still unsettled. Finally, in early May, after much prayer, Fareed asked the Oak Hills search committee if they would consider him. The elders offered him the job on May 11, Fareed accepted on May 12, and the decision was announced the next Sunday.
Besides leading the singles ministry at Oak Hills, Fareed will preach regularly when Max Lucado is away, allowing Max more time to write. Fareed says, "The men I trust most in my life deeply respect Max as a man of uncompromising integrity and unwavering humility. He is the kind of man I want to serve."
Though for a Southern Baptist singles minister, his name and family background may be unusual, Fareed Tulbah says that in some ways his testimony is "nothing special." His mother grew up in Hallettsville, Texas. When they were both students at the University of Texas, she met his father, who was born in Jaffa, Palestine (now Israel), and grew up in Saudi Arabia.
As a business major at the University of Texas, Fareed served as president of the Undergraduate Student Council of the McCombs School of Business. He started his own automotive company after receiving a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing, and remained active in his church singles group, where he met his wife Becki.
In 1997, Fareed became assistant pastor to the young single adults at Hyde Park Baptist Church. As leader of the SEARCH ministry, Fareed focused on reaching non-traditional seekers within the structure of a traditional church. Most of the growth in that growing group came from the more than 70 singles who were baptized during his three years on the church staff. But the singles ministry was not isolated from the larger church strategy of Bible study and discipleship. Over 80% of the singles were involved in small groups, and a leadership team handled visitation, worship, small groups, assimilation, greeting, evangelism, and marketing.
In 1999, Fareed drove his 1989 Mazda B2200 to San Antonio to plant The Deep End, a mission church of Grace Point. His vision was to reach postmodern-minded young adults, 95% of whom were single, people who wanted authentic community in a non-traditional church environment. Fareed even used secular radio to reach them. While pastor of The Deep End Church, he married Becki in September 2000.
Again, as in Austin, most of The Deep End congregation became active in small discipleship groups. The leadership of The Deep End handled the non-teaching activity of the church, allowing Fareed to focus on his own strengths. He wanted his preaching style to be “relational, user-friendly, Bible-based and exegetical” to encourage and exhort the churched and evangelize the unchurched.
Since 1997, Fareed has been guest speaker and seminar presenter at many conferences and churches, including the Metro Single Adult Bible Study in Austin and San Antonio, the AXIS National Single Adult Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the FutureGen National Emerging Generations Conference.