A man of many hats, Zach McAnulty finds joy in all he does

Saturday, June 27, 2020
At Heartland Christian Family Church, McAnulty leads the worship team, oversees the youth and children’s programs, as well as the church’s media ministry.
DAR/Paul Davis

Zach McAnulty wears many hats — outreach specialist for Three Rivers College’s Educational Talent Search and associate pastor of his father’s church, Heartland Christian Family Church in Poplar Bluff.

But then again, McAnulty has worn many hats much of his life.

One of the first hats McAnulty wore is pastor’s son.

His father, Kevin, was on the pastoral staff at First Assembly of God in Poplar Bluff in the early 1990s before moving to Florida — where Zach was born — to minister.

The McAnultys moved back to Poplar Bluff in 2003 to lead Heartland Christian Family Church.

McAnulty is a third-generation minister, as his grandfather (Kevin’s father) also was a minister.

“It has been both amazing and frustrating — but I wouldn’t trade it for anything though,” McAnulty said. “I am so thankful for the foundation that it gave me as a man, and it has taught me how to love people as Christ would.

“I have not been perfect in that and have had my fair share of learning opportunities, but getting to see my dad as more than just the ‘preacher’ has allowed me to see the ministry as more than ‘the church building.’

“ … Dad has a ministry philosophy of being a place of love, acceptance and forgiveness, and that alone has been amazing for my mindset to have grace for people because Christ has shown me so much grace in my 28 years of life. My dad is a great example of loving people because Christ loves us.”

A few years later, McAnulty started wearing his next hat — starting quarterback for the Poplar Bluff Mules football team, leading the team to the second round of the MSHSAA Class 5 playoffs in 2009, the team’s first postseason berth since 2000, and its first playoff win since 1993.

“I developed more as a leader and had a blast celebrating the talents and skills of the other guys,” McAnulty said. “They made me a much better player than I could have been on my own, and we had a blast helping each other grow.

“Being on a team like that was a real blessing because those guys loved getting better and wanted the best for each other on and off the field. When everyone you are around is dedicated to protecting and helping the guy next to him, then the whole team ends up being much stronger than if each person was only looking out for themselves.”

Photo provided
Zach McAnulty presents information to high school students regarding college readiness in 2018.

One of the hats McAnulty now wears is outreach specialist for Educational Talent Search at Three Rivers College.

The program helps students, who are first-generation college or low-income-based, college-bound sixth through 12th grade students find the right college and to get the information they need to be college-ready. It covers 10 counties.

“I want them to have the best tools and resources available to choose the right school or trade for them after they graduate,” McAnulty said.

However, McAnulty’s favorite hat might be serving as associate pastor at Heartland Christian Family Church.

At HCFC, McAnulty leads the worship team, oversees the youth and children’s programs, as well as the church’s media ministry. He also is one of the teachers for HCFC’s Ministry School program and ministers in the church’s Transformation Center.

One of McAnulty’s main philosophies is to “be joyful in all that you do.”

“I have not ‘arrived’ to the pinnacle of success, and I hope that I never feel that way,” McAnulty said. “For me, my joy is rooted in my relationship with God.

“Because he first loved me, I can love him and love others around me. My identity is not found in how other people see me, but in how God sees me — that lifts off the burden of performing for people to like me. I can just be me.”

McAnulty also encourages people to build healthy relationships with others who can keep them accountable.

“Your character is more important than the title before your name,” McAnulty said. “If you mess up, own up to that mistake and humbly apologize. Harboring guilt will only serve as a poison that will slowly kill you from the inside out.”