Summary: Reasons why a stable older church took on the challenge of launchng a new church a nearby community.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Out of Our Comfort Zones
Hold that text in the back of your mind. We will come back to it later.
Old time evangelist Vance Havner used to tell the story of an old fisherman. Ol’ Clem amazed everyone with his success. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or how productive other fishermen were. Clem always caught his limit. But no matter how many times they asked, Clem refused to tell his buddies how he did it.
Finally the game warden grew suspicious. One morning he showed up just as Clem was putting his old boat in the water. “I’m coming with you today,” the warden insisted. Clem protested to no avail. Finally the old fisherman shrugged his shoulders and said, "Okay, suit yourself."
The two climbed into the boat and motored over to a secluded cove on the lake. Clem sat there pondering his situation for the longest time. Finally, he said, "Well, I guess it’s time to fish." He opened his tackle box and pulled out a stick of dynamite. Before the game warden could say a word, Clem lit the dynamite and tossed it in the lake. The explosion blasted a huge fountain fifty feet in the air. Dozens of stunned fish bobbed to the surface. Clem calmly got out his net and started scooping up his catch.
At first the game warden sat there as stunned as one of the fish. Finally, he came to his senses and shouted, "Clem! You can’t do that. It’s illegal!" Clem didn’t say a word. He reached into his tackle box and picked up another stick of dynamite. He lit it. He tossed it in the game warden’s lap and said, "Are you gonna’ fish or are you gonna’ just sit there?"
That’s the question the leaders at First Christian Church of Vandalia faced. The church had been a strong, faithful church for generations. It had left a mark on ministries inside and outside of its community. The Vandalia Church had also been instrumental in helping lots of other churches get started. In 2004 the leaders confronted the issue of whether to start a new church themselves in nearby Bowling Green-Pike County or continue business as usual.
We could see many reasons to take on the project.
1. We already had many Pike County people who were driving to Vandalia for church.
2. More importantly, Pike County had no independent Christian Church. Not one!
3. We also knew from personal experience and the research that we were able to compile that a large part of the county had no church affiliation. Well over fifty percent of the population was unchurched.
4. We also knew that the area was expected to experience considerable growth in the future as the suburban sprawl spilled over from Lincoln County into neighboring Pike County.
We also knew there were some reasons for starting a new church that we wanted no part of. I spelled these reasons out and talked about them often with our folk. I wanted no misunderstandings about this.
1. We were not starting a new church in order to move Bowling Green people out of the Vandalia church!!