My family moved to Kentucky from Indiana. When at age 8, a lady across the street put me on a visitation list at her local church. Soon afterward, two young guys came by and shared the gospel with my family. I became a Christian.
I began attending that same church every time it opened its doors. I went by myself, as my parents never took faith very seriously. We moved multiple times but I continued to go to church on my own. It was many a new town where I looked in the phone book, called a local church and asked if they had a bus to pick me up.
During high school a friend asked me to visit his church and later go to church camp. Camp had an amazing effect on me. When we got back I instituted Bible studies at our high school and the junior high school, that I led in the mornings on alternate days. It was during this time I began preaching, even speaking at age 16 at a jail during a visit from our church camp.
At 18 I entered Bible college and immediately began preaching and doing youth ministry in various churches near Cincinnati in the early 90's.
After a few years, I left college and attempted to enter "normal life" working in my home town. Professional ministry seemed to have very little to do with the church of the New Testament, so I decided it was not for me. God though, still seemed to have a calling for my life and because my co workers kept telling me "you should be a preacher" I looked into it again.
At that time, a local church was looking for a preacher so I took their interim position as they searched. I was actually offered the position, but I declined (though I did stay). As an associate I helped them reach a stable size.
So with their encouragement I finally took a full time position with a church. After a short time the attendance doubled and we were able to add a youth minister and a music leader. On paper it appeared very successful but this ministry possessed deep seeded divisions. Looking back, I didn't have the experience to handle the rapid growth and the generational factions within the church.
So next I took a "break" and began a house church. Those who attended claimed they grew more in that time than the decades spent in their former traditional churches. It was a great experience. There was no staff, no sermonizing, no bands or technology, just a handful of people that began filling houses on a weekly basis. We had children through seniors worshiping in our services, youth Bible studies at the mall food court, and baptisms at the lake. Never before or since have I ever felt like more of an evangelist than those days, but alas, I had to move away as money for a growing family became paramount!
Next we moved to Ohio to help a church that had only a few core families. After some growth and our first baptism the small churched doubled in attendance. A youth group was formed and things were progressing. During this time, I developed a poor sleeping condition that required me to get warmer and lose some weight.
This led to ministry in the South working with the Apache Nation as a Bible Teacher. This was a lot of fun and I wished we could have stayed, but missionary positions are difficult to maintain even in the best of circumstances.
A couple years later we took a position in Southern Illinois. This church has been more established, not needing to be rebuilt as much as just unleashed. We have had few baptisms this year and we doing lots in the community. So far so good.
Stay tuned . . .