As much as anyone you’ve ever met, I’m a product of the Church.
For some reason, the churches in my life revolve around the number three. I served six churches as pastor–three smaller ones and three larger ones–and in between, I logged three years as a staff member of a great church.
And, to carry out the theme, the churches that nurtured me from childhood through adolescence were three in number. Oddly, they were of different denominations, which may be one reason I’m more of a generic Christian than a denominational one.
The New Oak Grove Free Will Baptist Church of Nauvoo, Alabama has been our family’s church since the late 1800s. My grandparents joined that church in 1903, and my mother, in her 96th year now, is its senior member. Although “Oak Grove,” as we call it, sits 15 miles from any sizeable town, it will run a couple of hundred in attendance on Sundays and the buildings are all new and lovely. Mickey Crane has been its pastor for over 30 years. My mother thinks he’s one of her sons.
Remember how Paul remarked to Timothy that he had been nurtured in the faith by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (II Timothy 1:5)? My mother is Lois and my first Sunday School teacher was Eunice.
I have good underpinnings.
That church loved its children. It was a wonderful place to grow up.
As her mother before her had done with a houseful of children, Lois got her six young ones ready on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday, we walked across the field and through the woods, a mile to the church. Among the blessings from that investment, God gave this good woman two sons for the ministry. Ron and I have logged nearly a hundred years of preaching between us.