Today, I drove 50 miles from the campus of Freed-Hardeman University to take a picture of an old abandoned church building. This building formerly housed the Hickory Plains Church of Christ. In 1982 and 1983, I took turns every other Sunday preaching at this congregation while I was a student in college.
Every other Sunday, I would drive 100 miles, preach in the morning, crash or do homework at someone’s house in the afternoon, preach again Sunday night, get paid $60.00, (and believe me, that was generous! I received much more than they did!) Then I’d drive back to school.
But what I find amazing is that I was just one of dozens of “preacher boys” who did the same thing. In 1959, this tiny congregation of people that probably never had more than 25 members, decided to give young men wanting to preach the opportunity to preach for them. While they were small in number and limited in resources, for more than 25 years they encouraged, gave experience to, and yes, even endured the preaching of young men who were trying to learn how to preach.
Personally, I think that when we have a discussion of some of the “great churches” in our brotherhood, we would be remiss not to include little congregations like Hickory Plains who had the vision and patience to help young men develop their preaching skills. I, for one, owe them a debt of gratitude.
Do you have a small church to which you are indebted? If so, why don’t your share your story in the comments section?