It must have been about 1997 when I was working as the Youth Pastor in a Baptist church and driving 20 miles each way to and from church and I was working in Wytheville and driving 40 miles each way to and from work. I was discouraged that it was so hard to invite people to church from that distance, if you are a Christian then you probably don’t mind driving that far but if not you wouldn’t see the need and it wouldn’t be very practical either. I don’t remember my parents ever attending church there and the distance probably had something to do with it.
I started praying about moving to a church closer to home and at the same time I hated to leave where I was. I had been there and on staff for about 5 years and Kevin and Dustin and I had made a lot of great friends. We had a great time not only at church but also hanging out will those we became friends with. We went camping a lot with two of the families we met and those are some great memories.
I remember thinking that there were not any churches around my home where I had ever been aware of anything much happening. I have lived in the same area all of my life and only been invited to church by about 3 people. There was this one church in the area and it was less than a mile from my home. It was perfect except for the fact that they were a split from a Baptist church and I had heard that they were leaning charismatic. Now being in the Baptist church most of my Christian life that scared me to death.
I prayed about it for quite a while and then decided to try it. Dustin and I went one Sunday morning and the Holy Spirit seemed to draw us there. It was a great service, a great message and a great group of people, most of them I had known all of my life. I will never forget the next Sunday I told Kevin that we were going back there and he said “I’m not going” and then he said, “I bet the preacher wears overalls’ to preach in”. Of course I said, “no he doesn’t” and so he went with us. Guess what the pastor was wearing. Yep, overalls. I can’t tell you now why that was but I assume it was Old Fashioned Day or something like that, I just thought it was ironic that Kevin had said that and there it was.
Anyway, we started going there and eventually we joined and I started working with the youth of the church. It was truly the most growing 3 years of my life. For the first time I started to read the bible for what it said and not with denominational glasses. Now, I don’t blame that on the denomination, I blame it on myself for not taking the initiative. I guess too that I felt inadequate to read it and try and understand it for myself. It was 3 of the best years of my life. That church and the pastor there helped me in ways spiritually that no one else had. I love that church and I love the people there, they are great people who love God.
It was after 3 years that I realized that even though I had been taught and God had blessed me so much spiritually that I didn’t agree with all of their doctrine and that is OK. I haven’t been anywhere where everybody agreed on every point and probably never will. I felt however that I should not be teaching and leading the youth and not be able to teach all the teachings of that individual church. They were there long before me and I had no desire to try and change them, they had been good for me and God had used that time in my life. I felt it was best to leave and do that on good terms. We are still friends today and Misty and I have participated in events they have. They are a great church and I have even recommended people go there when they are looking for such a body.
I thank God for the nondenominational church body that helped me to grow spiritually more than any time in my life to that point.