Discovering his calling in high school, Dr. Taylor Sandlin, pastor of Sugar Land Baptist, knew what his profession would be, but not where it would take him. The ministry has taken him all over Texas strengthening his calling along the way. It all started in his hometown church of First Baptist Texarkana in Texarkana, Texas.
“They nurtured not just me, but a lot of kids’ faith,” says Taylor. “They gave us chances to do things. I am very grateful to the folks that taught me the Faith as I grew up.”
Taylor remembers preaching his first sermon as a sixteen-year-old for a Sunday night service. He says it was likely not very good, but he was grateful for the opportunity to try. As a youth, Taylor sought opportunities to preach, taught bible studies and went on mission trips. All of those places, he says, are where he discovered his calling.
With the goal of attending seminary in mind, Taylor first enrolled at Texas A&M University to study speech communication. While at Texas A&M, Taylor was active in the Baptist student ministry and continued to seek out opportunities to preach and teach.
“I honestly got a lot of preaching opportunities,” says Taylor. “There were a lot of little churches outside of College Station that were willing to let a college student come preach on occasion. The only real way to learn to preach is to preach. So, it worked out well for me.”
Besides opportunities to preach and teach, the Baptist student ministry is also where he met his wife, Alyson. After graduating in 2000, the two were wed and moved from College Station to Waco for Taylor to start seminary at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. His first congregation was in Marlin at the First Baptist Church.
The Sandlins served there for a couple of years before moving to San Angelo to pastor Southland Baptist Church. While there they grew their family adding a daughter Sophie in 2004 and a son John Curtis in 2006. San Angelo was home for the Sandlins for 11 years, but felt God leading them to another congregation.
“We loved the people at Southland Baptist Church, it was a hard decision to come this way,” says Taylor. “It was really just submitting to the possibility that God might be able to use my gifts in this place [Sugar Land Baptist].”
Easter Sunday of 2017 was Taylor’s first day with Sugar Land Baptist, and he has enjoyed serving this congregation ever since. Taylor joined Sugar Land Baptist amidst a time of grief for the congregation, as they mourned the tragic passing of their previous pastor, Phil Lineberger. Taylor has helped lead Sugar Land Baptist into healing and a time of outreach and growth.
“We are in a new season, and excited about getting into our community,” says Taylor. “We want our community to know we are here and care for them, and are looking for ways to connect with our neighbors.”
Historically, Sugar Land Baptist has had more worship and sanctuary space than fellowship and Sunday school space. Plans for additional education space had been on the table for a while, and Sugar Land Baptist is now picking them back up.
“Even though it is an internal initiative, we really see it as trying to make room for people,” says Taylor. “I am a big believer if we do church well, meaning we love one another and care for one another, we will experience growth. We want to create ways to connect with our community.”
Taylor discovered calling at a young age, and now at Sugar Land Baptist, he is creating opportunities for youth to also discover their calling. Sugar Land Baptist has a full slate of interns, usually college students, that serve alongside the staff.
“It is a wonderful way for people to discover calling,” says Taylor. “We also go on mission trips and our students are able to lead out on those trips, as well.”
Outside of his calling, Taylor enjoys traveling with his family to visit family members, who are missionaries in other parts of the world, and other places Alyson has on her travel bucket list. Locally, the Sandlin’s enjoy trying the variety of restaurants the area has to offer. During their first year in the area, they tried so many new restaurants that they never ate at the same place twice. Taylor also enjoys photography, particularly capturing images of butterflies. He even has an Instagram account dedicated to his nature images @revtexag.