Monday, September 22, 2014

MY EARLY MINISTRY

Maple Grove Baptist Church, Western NC

My first church in this country was at the Pharris Hill Christian Church outside Irving, Kentucky. I had preached at the primary (grade) schools around Mashoko Mission in Zimbabwe, Africa as a child on the mission field with my parents and was still a child when I took my first church.  I took the church while still in my last semester of high school and not yet 18.  In fact I would not be 18 until after I had left the church at the end of the summer. 

While still in high school the drive from Berea, KY to Irvine was not that bad, but I drove to the church the summer of 1966 from Louisville, Kentucky in a 53 Chevy pickup truck that I had bought from my Uncle Otis.  I picked up my pianist on the way to the church.  They did not get much of a minister, but I learned that being a pastor in this country was much different from going to the village schools in Africa and preaching with an interpreter. With an interpreter you have time to think about what you are going to say next while he is saying what you just said.  No crutch like that in an American pulpit.

The expectations were much higher also.  In Africa no one dared complain about a missionary’s sermon, but in this country people will tell you what they think or simply just not say anything and leave the church without speaking. Their silence can be more deafening than anything said or yelled at you.

I have not made a career of being a local pastor.  I have been a radio evangelist, preached in a number of churches and since 1988 have been the Director of Project Dream Again. I did hold a pastorate a few years back at Mountain View Christian Church in Marion, NC.  Overall, I have not found being a local pastor a very easy or satisfying job.  Mostly a thankless job.  The last time I tried it at Mountain View I did not take a salary hoping it would make the relationship better.  It did not.  You can listen to some of my sermons here.

I fear for the future.  The average age of pastors is grey.  I am not sure young people are attracted to it as a profession.  Where will the people come from to preach the Gospel?  We all need to become spreaders of the Word.

© Ed Cooper, 9/21/14,Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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