In the summer of 1986 my wife, Leslie and I packed up our belongings. They could fit in a mid-size U-Haul trailer. We were moving from North Carolina to Oklahoma.
We were headed for a church that for some providential reason had asked me to be their pastor. I did not really know what that entailed.
I had a smattering of biblical theology under my belt, along with a few understandings of how to manage a worship service. I had a degree in business with a music minor and few courses in theology. If all else failed, Les could sing and I could play the piano. “Somehow we can make it work,” I thought.
Apart from that, I had little comprehension of how to perform the duties found on a pastoral job description. In fact, I don’t recall that I had a written job description. We weren’t that sophisticated. After all, I didn’t even know pastors made calls at hospitals. I was green indeed!
The small congregation of about 40 people was glad to have me. I was glad to be in their company. I was 28 years old without a seminary background. Leslie was pregnant with our first child and I was supposed to lead the church.
In the coming years we grew together. We grew in our relationships. We grew in numbers and I grew in my understandings of pastoral ministry.
That church, 41st Street Christian Church, Tulsa, provided me with a salary, a pulpit, and most importantly, a hands-on education in pastoral responsibilities. I attended seminary while in Tulsa. It was long-haul education; it took 6 years to complete my Master of Divinity degree while working full-time for the church.
We stopped in Nashville on our way across the country during that summer trip of 1986. Disciple Heritage Fellowship’s leaders were attending a conference together. They had invited us to join them. It was a pivotal moment in my ministry career. It was a catalytic moment provided by God.
The schedule of that conference is not indelibly imprinted on my mind. I do recall the shape of the auditorium and I know Jack Hayford of California was the focal guest speaker. However, much of that event is not gathered in my memory bank.
I do know this: the relationships Les and I formed with the folk from DHF that week have carried us through almost 30 years of ministry since then. Those relationships are the bedrock of our lives.
I’m no longer 28 years old. Les is no longer pregnant – at least if she was we would be in good biblical company! Our children are now grown and married.
I know a little more about the skills needed to lead a church. Pastoral hospital calls are part of my regular routine. I have experienced a lot of change.
There is one constant that has not changed through the years and through the transitions I’ve experienced in ministry: relationships with the people of Disciple Heritage Fellowship.
Help us to continue to reach into the lives of pastors and congregations who might mirror the 28-year-old young man I recall from 1986.
Thousands of congregations and pastors are in need of solid, biblical relationships. They are in need of guidance, information, and most of all, company.
Pastoral ministry can be a lonely calling; and churches take on Lone Ranger-styled ministries for fear of knowing who to trust and how to proceed to the next ministry level God expects.
Your gifts to Disciple Heritage Fellowship make a difference in the lives of many people. Leslie and I include DHF in our monthly giving plans.
Join us as we strive to help the current and next generation of pastors and churches.
First Christian Church, Decatur, IL
DHF Board Member