Come On In
The Goin'est, Friendl'est
Church in This Here Neighborhood
I would like to introduce myself.
I am Dr. Coleman Martin-Luther Powell the XXIII, the senior pastor of Come On In Baptist
Church, Inc. You may be wonderin' why I called myself the
"senior pastor," when I am the only pastor of this small church.
I have decided to be the senior pastor in prospect. In other
words, I am startin' early so I won't be late! Plus, I like
the sound of "senior pastor" tied to "Dr." It makes me sound
smarter and more important to our visitors.
Anyway, we started this ministry some 5 or 10 years ago after I
couldn't get a J.O.B. in my previous occupation as an Arrival and
Departure Announcer (ADA) at a major airport. It seems that my
speech impediment was causin' 62.5% of the travelers to miss their
flights. Add in the strip-searches, metal detectors, long
lines, Starbuck's coffee and you can see the
problem! Even the terrorists were beginnin' to complain!
But I'm gettin' ahead of myownself.
I have been married to Lulu-Belle Ann-Marie for
9 1/2 years, 10 of
those years being the best of my life, though it hasn't been a free
for Lulu-Belle. We have 7 or 8
children; Ronnie-Ann, Ahva-Maria, Billy-Bob; Juris Prudence,
Tommie-Todd (named after my parole officer, Phil), Scooby-Do (named
after my favorite reality show), Sha-na-na (named after my favorite
"praise chorus"), and LaToya Lincoln (name after my
favorite automobile). I believe Sha-na-na is ours, but
she speaks with a French accent. And God blessed!
We live in Rolling Rock, near the left fork of the main
branch of the Stinking Creek tributary, which runs under the new freeway.
Though the freeway is four lanes, on Sunday we used two of them for parkin'. Unfortunately our dirt road did not qualify for an
over-pass or an exit. And, in fact, the freeway cuts right
across our road, so we simply painted white lines across the freeway
connectin' the two sliced ends of our road, then added right and
left hand turn signs, plus a sign warnin' about the ditches, and,
bye-gum, we got ourselves an intersection! Course turnin' off
the freeway unto our dirt road usually involves a lot of tire
screechin', horn blowin', and road rage, but it gets 'em to church!
And God blessed!
The church. We started the church in our home after I graduated
with a 1.3.5 average from the First Independent Fundamental
Missionary Baptist Church of Hollow Point's Nights and Weekends
Fundamental Missionary Bible Institute and
Auto Repair School, Inc.
(N.W.F.M.B.I.A.R.S.). I majored in topical preachin' and oil
changes. These majors also cover church administration and the bus
Though our home was a one and one-half bedrooms with matchin' baths, and not really suited for church work, we thought
the basement could be used for services once the water went down.
Besides, from this basement location we had no where to go but up!
The kitchen was handy for fellowships, and the "place-down-the-path"
relieved the crowdin' plus other personal problems. We
converted the one-car garage into four Sunday School rooms, plus my
office, so I bought one of those grey tarp thin's on the poles to
cover my 1965 Cadillac De'ville. And God blessed!
first service we had me, my wife, my 7 or 8 children, plus the
plumber and two neighbors. I preached on "Where Be the
Dinosaurs" (Noah's ark), usin' Matt. 25:1-25 for my proof text.
Of course I was not as polished as I am now, but everyone said it
was a great beginnin' and a solid message.
We are now preparin' to move the church to its new property in
Friendly Hollow, a stone's throw away as the crow flies.
And God blessed!
Our present membership is mainly transient, rotatin' between our church and the
Federal Penitentiary. I always felt a leadin' toward a prison ministry, but at the
jail, not at church! On a good Sunday we have 125 in attendance; on a
bad Sunday we have 284. It seems the more these folks get
together the more trouble we have. Because of the trouble we were goin' to cancel
Sunday School, but most of the folks still wanted to learn how to
read. We have followed the latest trend by cancelin' Sunday evening services, unless we have
an "after-glow." Wednesday nights are open to debate,
dependin' on the weather and the depth of the creek. We do have services when it is cold
or hot so the folks can warm up or cool down. But I am gettin'
ahead of myownself.
Speakin' of the Federal Penitentiary,
it is a minimum security
woman's prison that has had some famous "bad-girls" of society.
Recently it was Martha Stewart, who, I believe, was convicted for puttin' the rum-a-lum-a in the be-bop-a-lu-bop or somethin' like
that. At any rate, the guards bring
over a bus load of
prisoners every Sunday mornin', and Martha was among them.
They are in their orange jump suits, but they can wear matchin'
baseball caps if they wish. The guards stand by the doors, the
dogs stay on the stoop, but the prisoners can set as far apart as
their ankle "bracelets" will let them. We were glad to have
Martha there, especially since she trimmed two of our gardenias on
her way into church. She was just about to redecorate her pew
when the service started, but she did rebind two song books while we
sang the praise choruses. We are always glad to have visitors,
especially if they are chained together. And God blessed!
folks seem interested in my early years, and the journey that
brought me to where I be today. I was born at
an early age to my parents. My mama was an elevator operator
in a two story buildin' in downtown Rolling Rock. Unfortunately,
women were not allow to drive elevators back then (before the Civil
Right's Act), so she had to dress like a man everyday before she
went to work. Of course pa was not happy, since every time he went
shoppin' he had to buy two pairs of ever'thing. Her elevator
was "southern" state-of-the-art. It went up one story then
sideways for two "stories." Of course it went back the same
way it came up. It was a good job. She met a lot of nice
folks, was able to have many two-story conversations, plus she received travel pay
on the east-west portion of the trip.
My dad was
self-employed as an ice delivery man. He would drive to the
next town, buy his ice, then deliver it to the homes and businesses
of Rolling Rock. His truck was not refrigerated so the block
ice was covered in saw dust, and would last for the day, except the
last stop got a cube instead of a block. In forty-aught-six he
learned of an ice plant in Fore Corners that was selling ice for
one-half the cost of the closer plant. It was an eight hour
round trip to get the ice, but what he lost in costs he made up in
volume. Soon all his customers were gettin' cubes instead of
blocks, since most of the ice melted down durin' the trip. He
then devised a small wooden compartmentalized tray to deliver the
ice cubes in, and thus was born the ice-cube tray.
Unfortunately he never patented the idea, and it was stolen.
By 1930 G.E. included
one with every new wooden refrigerator.
As far as church, my
mama always took us fourteen chil'ren to church, unless the creek
rose makin' travel improbable.
Though my dad was not a religious man, he loved
dinner-on-the-grounds, and since our church had one every Sunday,
dad's name was on the rolls.
We attended Crooked Stump Southern
Baptist Church. Sunday school was in the arbors along the side
of the buildin', as were the crows. The deacons were only allowed to smoke on the
front steps, but they could chew anywhere. Spittin' was
optional, while swallowin' was preferred. We had lady's missionary society, trainin' union,
and the various fund raisin' activities, like the Cooperative
Program. Our pastor/preacher/teacher was Elmer T. Foresight, a
self taught man. He didn't cotton to formal trainin', and he
claimed that he let the Holy Ghost filled his mouth every Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Holy Ghost wasn't informed of this plan and,
therefore, missed most of the fillin's! When we attended he was on his second
wife, though his first wife attended regularly and sat in the second
row, right side. It was said that he divorced his first wife
because she was havin' trouble pullin' the plow, but I can't confirm
that, except for that strange stoop she had. Also, when mama
gave her directions to our house, she always used the words "gee"
and "haw." And God blessed!
Salvation. When I was twelve I
went forward in church durin' a revival, filled out a card, was baptized, and
became a church member. I remember it well, since the famous
travelin' evangelist, "Travelin' Tom Cohen was the speaker that led
me down the isle. Tom said he was Jewish on his father's
side twice removed, but no one
knew what that meant, so we thought he was either one of those "Landmarkers"
we heard so much about, or that he had a congenital birth defect.
At any rate, he sure could preach up a storm of illustrations.
He apparently knew the crown kings and queens of the Netherlands,
'cause he said he was usually in dutch wherever he went.
For the meetin's we
put up the old striped tent in the field beside the church. At that
time you could barely make out the old paint that said "Barnum
Bailey Circus". We cut down the cotton stalks, raked the
ground smooth, and spread the sawdust. Then we set up the
borrowed chairs from Hy Jinks Family Funeral Parlor, puttin' a
funeral parlor fan on each one. It was a high time for the
town, and the revival attracted good crowds. I had been under
conviction about going forward for some time.... well ever since I was
caught stealin' a Snickers bar from ole man Leary's drug store!
When Brother Cohen preached on "Let No Snickerin' Proceed Forth," I
knew it was time for a decision. And God blessed!
time forward, I was a "church-man". After I graduated from
ninth grade, bein' just shy of 19 years old, I told pastor Foresight that I wanted to go to school
for my Bible studies. He told me to just let the Holy Spirit
fill my mouth, but I had trouble keepin' my mouth open and
preparin' messages at the same time! Finally, in exasperation, I started
attendin' an independent Baptist church in Hollow Point, so named
for their ammunition plant. Course the church had some uppity big
shots as members, but they also had a Bible Institute during the evenin' hours. Though the folks at Crooked Stump hated to see
me go, especially to an independent work, they seemed to sense the
great need I had for more "formal" education. They had a
special "after-glow" in my honor, and most of the parolees attended.
As a goin' away present, the church gave me the complete set of
Chick Commentaries in order to help further my studies. And
Formal training. I
immediately set my mind to the work of learnin' the Bible from cover to cover.
Since this was a KJV 1611 only church
I had to learn a whole new language to understand the Bible.
In fact I think it was the "s"s shaped like "f"s, and the "u"s
shaped like "v"s that caused my continuin' speech
impediment to this day. I also had a lot of trouble with the Apocrifull
books that someone put right in the center section of that
Bible, right where the 400 silent years should have been! At
any rate I was able to squeeze 1 year of serious study into 3 years
of desperate study. I finally graduated with a One Year
Short Of An Associate Degree In
The Generalities Of The Bible or
an OYSOAADITGOTB degree. Oh, and I also got my honorary Doctor
of Divinity degree for not missin' any classes! Plus I was licensed, commissioned, and
ordained on graduation night!
Let me say though, in all
fairness to my alma-it-doesn't-mater, that the licensin',
commissionin' and ordainin' took place around the big round top at
the local I-Hop over some strawberry pancakes with whipped cream.
So I left school with more certificates with little round gold seals
than I could carry. These certificates hang proudly today in
my study/closet to this day--I just wish I hadn't folded them on graduation
night. And God blessed!
Some of you are probably curious about
Lulu-Belle Ann-Marie, and just how we met. Those that aren't
that interested can just go to the top of this page and start readin'
again. After my graduation, at 22 years of age, I spent some
time goin' from church to church looking for a ministry. My
needs were simple. I wanted to be the senior pastor, with a
staff of four, have every other Sunday off, and drive a new Buick or
Ford dually. I wanted a parsonage with a pool, health
insurance, life insurance, accidental death and deformity insurance,
disability insurance, old-age insurance, supplemental Medi-Care
insurance, fallin' debris insurance, auto insurance, boat insurance,
and huntin' insurance. I wanted to be guaranteed a 30 hour
work week with overtime, and a salary in the high five figure range,
plus one lunch a week at Burger King. Since I was a Doctor of
Divinity, most church boards thought my requests were fair, except
for the huntin' insurance. Seems PETA has
been armin' some of
the bucks in these parts and they are startin' to shoot back, and
they (the board not the bucks) thought the premiums might be a tab
high. Of course I left my resume and told them to sleep on it,
but I wasn't backin' down on the huntin' insurance!
Anyway, it was while I was checkin' out the beauties at Mountain Pass
Baptist Church, that I spied a pretty little organist sittin' at the
piano. She had the prettiest boo-font hair due, you know, just
like Tammie-Fae. She had on one of those frilly spring-time
dresses that accentuated her girlish figure. Her hair was
stylishly blonde, her makeup stylishly heavy, but what really pushed
me over the edge was the unusually reserved amount of jewelry she
wore. Not countin' the ankle chains and toe rings, or the
alternatin' gold and silver rings on each finger, forgettin' the 4
earrings in each ear and the nose and tongue piercin', she was only
wearin' one long beaded necklace around her neck! I can really
love a girl with that kind of restraint, plus she could play the
piano! A perfect pastor's wife, an example to the "flock," and
she would really look good on TBN when we finally got our own show!
Though I was 22 years old, and she was already 16, I felt that her
being a "old-maid" would be a help and not a hindrance. Later
her daddy confided in me that she had been engaged at 12, but that
it hadn't worked out when her fiancée joined the Army to get his
G.E.D. Anyway, after the usual 2 months of courtin', plus the
dowry, Lulu-Belle was mine! And the rest, as they say, is
"her-story." And God blessed!
Giving. This is one of
those ticklious situations that calls for divine diplomacy. In
my childhood Southern Baptist Church I was
taught that the "tithe
was the Lord's" and so we were taught to give a minimum of 10% to
the church. From this General Fund the church took 10% for the
Cooperative Program. Of course there were always many other
opportunities to give. There were yearly fund raisers,
monthly fund raisers and weekly fund raisers. And there was the pastor and his continuin' needs; watches, shoes, vehicles,
clothing, vacations, medical
needs, etc., all based on the verses, "don't hamper the hog as he
stomps on his corn," and "the sheep are worthy to be fleeced!"
When I joined the independent movement I discovered they taught the
same thing about the tithe, but they included the verses in Luke for
good measure, "stomped down and sifted together." It appeared
to me that goin' back to the Old Testament for justifyin' the tithe
might be oversteppin' the New testament teachin's, but I was in no
position to argue and we needed the money! Besides, they said,
"Abraham tithed before the Law was given," so that was enough to
shut me up for the time bein'. So I taught my people to tithe.
But I didn't like takin' 10% of the general fund and givin' it to
missions. First, it only left me with 90%, and second my
retirement plan was funded at 10% of the church's offerin's.
So we turned to Faith Promise. And God blessed!
Faith Promise; ever heard of it?
Me neither, until I attended the N.W.F.M.B.I.A.R.S. and got my
degree. At my former S.B.C. church we just took 10% more or
less (dependin' on if anyone on the deacon board could figure
percentages!) and gave it to "missions," which meant the Cooperative
Program. The Independents seemed to like this
Faith Promise givin' arrangement, so I thought we would try it at our first
Missionary Conference, this past November. Instead of takin'
part of the tithe, folks gave a "faith promise" to missions.
The idea was to depend on God for the amount "promised," though
folks were to give it anyway and trust God to supply. I even
found a missionary organization that was willin' to sell me a "Faith
Promise" program, with the cards, brochures, pictures, posters,
and the whole ball of wax--but they wanted their money up front! So that was our plan, but now we needed missionaries!
friends among the Independents I was directed to a veteran
missionary who was back in the States to raise some support.
Billy Umberg and his wife May had served in many fields, and had
coined the phrase, "If you will build it, they will come."
After contactin' them and sendin' the bus tickets for their
transportation (they were in California), I directed my time toward findin' some other
missionaries. There were no end of suggestions from our church
members, so I thought we could include some of their choices and make everybody
We finally settled on "Gospel Balloon
Makers," who work street fairs, flea markets, Christian rock
concerts, and Hot Diggity Dog restaurants. Their ministry is
twistin' balloons into animals shapes that approximate Bible
stories. They also do quarter scale housin' developments for
city planners, so it is kind of a cross-over ministry to the lost
and the saved. Their mission board is "Trite Methods to Reach
The second missionary selected has a ministry to
Muslims in their own land. Since it is illegal for to
proselytize Muslims, this mission board has the goal of openin' head
scarf dry cleaners in all the major Muslim cities/countries.
When the head scarves are brought in to be cleaned (not often), a
microchip will be implanted in the seam, which will broadcast an FM
signal directly into the wearer's occipital [ear] bone. This broadcast
will consist of New Evangelical preachin' and contemporary Christian
music. The idea is either conversion, confusion,
or goin' crazy. This board is gettin' into Muslim
countries under the banner C.C.C., Inc., though their official name
The last missionary has a unique ministry to folks
of Spanish descent who have married Native Americans. Him and
his wife operate under the pseudo name of S.N.A., not to be confused
with the financial people. Their main ministry is in public
housin' developments on Indian reservations and casinos. Their
present attention is being focused on the combined sicknesses of
gamblin', second-hand peace pipe smoke, and the illegal exportation
of wild mustangs (those produced before 1960). So you can see
we had a "heads-up" group of mission projects for our first
conference, and our people were excited!
Sunday mornin' was devoted to the mission's conference, with Sunday
night being designated "Add Um Up Sunday." For four weeks I had
mailed pledge cards to each member, asking them to fill them out and
bring them on Sunday evenin'. Of course, true to form, very
few brought the cards Sunday night, and most hadn't even opened the
envelopes to get the cards out to bring them on Sunday night.
Fortunately, I still had 500 cards left over, so everybody still got
one. Anyway, after preachin' that "Missions isn't Free,"
from the whole Book of Acts, we
took up the cards, writin' the the changin' total on the blackboard
in order to build the excitement. At the end of the last card
counted and the last total totaled, we had reached a weekly amount
of $34.16, two chickens and one side of beef. We counted it an
unqualified success for our first faith promise program, plus I love
beef. So we were able to take on 4 missionaries for $7.00 a
week, plus 1/2 a chicken each. And God blessed!
Christmas Cantata--what a blessin'! As pastor, I was
invited to attend the choir's decision makin' meetin'. Of
course, as pastor, I am the defatso member of any and all
committees. Plus, my first wife and I began our public
ministry sangin' in country churches, so we know a thing or two
about good, solid Southern Gospel! As soon as the meetin' began they argued about
which cantata to sang. Then they argued about who would be the
"lead" sanger. Then they argued about who would be the "back-up" sangers. Then
they argued about who would play the
accompaniment. Then they argued about what the accompaniment
would be. Then they argued about the costumes and the
robes. Then they argued about where everyone would stand.
Then they argued about the lightin'. Then they argued about
practice times and places. Then they argued about the admission
price. Finally they argued about the color of the carpet, which
was really stupid since we already had carpet! Finally the
choir director put her foot down and brought the choir back to their
senses (a long trip!). Anyway, they finally settled on a cantata
to sang. It is a contemporary piece that includes "applaud
here" pauses so the audience has time to react and feel good about
their own selves. Feelin' good--that is what Christmas is all
about! The cantata is by an up and comin' Christian rapper,
goin' under the show business name of Na Na Narniva. The name
of the cantata is "Unified at Christmas Time." It
features a family that can't agree about anythin'. They even
argue about the pronunciation of their last name! Of course it
is the manger under the Christmas tree that finally brings the
family together, though they still can't agree on how to decorate
Our choir director/minister of music/praise and worship leader,
Ronnie Porch (the "ch" is silent) finally assembled us for the first
rehearsal. We decided to hold it at the local House of Sizzlin'
because some of the members wouldn't attend unless there was coffee
and pie. The first practice went pretty well, except we only
had 4 cantata books to share among the 15 choir members and 8
speakin' parts. Ronnie wanted to just run off copies at the
local Kinko's, except for two problems. We don't have a
Kinko's, and the last time I ran copies of copy written material the
Revenue Officers raided the church nursery! Apparently some
the children were duplicatin' their dirty diapers without written
permission! Anyway, for the
first practice we just made due, passin' the 4 books back and forth
down the row with Miss Ronnie promisin' to buy some more books on
Well, we finally got our extra books off eBay. Apparently when
you buy "on line" copyrights don't matter or count. Course
this stuff is all printed in China anyway! They even came with
the stamp of the Chinese slave that bound them. And God
Though we do have visitors in most services, many are transient or
have run out of gas on the freeway. You jus' can't build a
strong church with the homeless and the gasless. So we felt
that we needed to take the initialative and begin a real soul-winnin'
emphasis in order to reach out to our community. While we have
tried the Bible method before, we felt that we needed something that
really had a track record of success! With that in mind, our
church voted to send me and my wife to Las Vegas for the 14th Annual
Conference and Sale-a-Thon for Soul-Winnin'. Naturally it was
held in one of those super big casinos. Well, we weren't too
sure about that, specially since our church covenant precludes
gamblin', but we had to go with the flow, as they say. Though
we didn't gamble our ownselves, we could hardly help it that our
sleeves got caught on the slot machine's arms, and pulled them down
(not our sleeves, but the arms!) every time we walked through the
casino! Seems that I won about $100 by mistake! I would
have won more, but my sleeve finally ripped.
Besides the cheap food, free drinks (medicinal, "for the stomach" only), girly shows,
and sight-seein', we spent lots of time at the various soul-winnin'
First, I want to thank the Lord for the many Christians who
sacrifice their time, talent and treasure to write and illustrate
various schemes and soul-winnin' programs. I just don't know
how they do it, and still charge ridiculous prices for somethin'
they claim that God gave them. That aside, I was lured into a
program called 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 or the 12 step program. What you do is knock on 12
12 doors for 12 hours a day for 12 weeks x 12 bucks per soul-winner. Of course in Rollin'
Rock we will have to bend the copy written materials and procedures
since, not only do we not have any homes with 12 doors--most folks don't
have any doors at all!
We started our program on the first Saturday after the last day of
the week when the government checks arrived. When that is on a
Friday, the banks are jammed at 4 P.M. and the bars at 6 P.M.
Our town folks don't believe in wastin' good money on food or rent,
at least not first! Anyway, by Saturday morning most are still
in bed or fallin' therefrom when we are door knockin'. Lot's
of times I have to remind our folks that they might have to get down
on their hands and knees to look the lost in the eyes! Of
course for our older folks to be able to go soul-winnin' we have had
to sign up for the "I've fallen and I can't get up"
security service, so this
program is getting more expensive by the week. These are
things they never tell you when you sign up.
Before I could instietute this program I had to convince the
parishioners of the benefits of spending Saturdays in the hot sun
stepping around pasture patties to get to the lost's doors. So
I began a 12 step program at church to impliment the 12 step soul-winnin'
|The first step was for me and the little woman to attend an
out-of-state Soul-Winnin' conference, all expenses paid by the
The second step was to find a program to use to teach the folks how
The third step was to find a brother-preacher who already had the
program and would run me some copies.
The fourth step was to begin a 12 step program to impliment the 12
step soul-winning program so I could impliment the 12 step
The fifth step was to have banners made to hang in the church's
sanctuary, front vestibule, parking lot (between the two black
walnut trees) and restrooms.
The sixth step was to have custom bulletins printed with big 12's on
the cover and my picture inside.
The seventh step was to find suitable verses that I could string
together for soul-winnin' sermons. I turned to the Sword
The eighth step was to dig up illustrations that proved that God
blesses those that go soul-winnin'. Thanks again, Sword!
The ninth step was to teach and preach the folks into submission by
beatin' them over the head with how God is blessin' the 12 Step
program, and how they are out of the will of God if they don't
submit and go.
The tenth step was a "sign-up" sheet to make them committ.
The eleventh step was a Soul-Winnin' banquet at our church, held
under the ole arbor by the poison ivy. I wanted them itchin'
The twelfth step was to actually teach them how to be a soul-winner
and how to maneuver their victims into actually repeatin' the
Well, this program has certainly proved itself successful! So
far we have had two deacons, 1 usher, 3 nursery workers, and our
treasurer saved! Now if I can just get them to walk the isle
and be baptizoed.
Since I became senior pastor, our church has always had a yearly
evangelistic meetin'. We do it after the harvest and before
the plantin'. That way the members can ride their mules to
services. Over the 5 to 10 year life of our church we have
never had an "outsider" come in to preach. There are two
reasons for that: 1) As pastor I am paid on commission, so his/her
fees would cut into my bottom line; and 2) I jus' don't feel
comfortable watching a stranger walk out the church's back door
with my people's cash in his/her pocket! So, over the last
5 to 10 years, I have done all the evangelistic meetin' preachin' at
church. In order to motivate my people, I have pretended to
have a guest preacher, but in fact, it was just me in a new suit and
a cheap wig (see my last disguise to the right). Not one of my people caught on, except for a few
small children, but who listens to them?
This year though, things just felt different, like somethin' was in
the air (except for the nitro from the gun factory, that is). It seemed
like the year our church should take that next step, so I felt that
the time was right for the evangelist man/woman of God's choice.
Plus, the local thrift shop ran out of used suits, and my dawg tore
up the last curly wig.
Now, where to find God's man with God's message for God's people,
plus preach for chicken parts? I knew that I could pray and
wait, but I didn't have time. I called both my preacher
friends, but they were so deep in other hollers that they knew not
of any evangelists. Next I checked the Yeller Pages, but there
were no listin's for hell fire, damnation evangelists. Then I
checked the Sword, but I didn't know if men who ran ads could
be trusted to save souls. Finally I sent out a spam email
askin' for God's man with God's message for God's people to contact
me. (I didn't mention the preachin' for chicken parts in the
email.) I finally got a response from a missionary in Kenya
who knew a pastor in Michigan who had a friend in Utah who had heard
of an evangelist in Missouri who had been a pastor, and was a
regular on some sort of a Bible answer man TV program that
answers folk's questions, so I knew he had the answers. His
name was Al Lowpower, and he came with mighty fine recommendations
from lots of folks I never heard of, but that was good enough for
me. Besides, I was plum tired of lookin'. So Al Lowpower
became God's man with God's message for God's people,. plus he
agreed to the chicken parts part. Plus, as an added bonus, he
was some kind of "Dr.", though the local A.M.A. had never heard of
We put all our evangelists (me in my various disguises) up at
Lucinda's place, which was a previous Bed & Breakfast without the
Bed part, and lackin' sorely in the Breakfast area. But it was
clean for a pig farm, and close to the main road that runs to the
hard road that dead ends at the dirt road that leads to the path by
the creek that leads to our church property. So, you can see
that it is a convenient location.
Bro./Dr. Al arrived in one of those high-falutin' airport limos.
We would have picked him up ourownselves, but most of our
members are either scared of airoplanes or have never crossed the
county line. It turned out that Dr. Al, as he liked to be
called, was a pleasant enough person--for a short guy,
and he seemed all excited about bein' here. He did want some of
his "love offerin's" up front 'til I explained that chicken parts
have a short "shelf-life" at Lucinda's. He did have his daily
routine listed on a sheet of paper that he handed me.
6 A.M. Out of bed and down to breakfast
7 A.M. Back in bed 'til 11 A.M.
11 A.M. 'til 1 P.M. shower, shave, moose hair, shine shoes.
1 P.M 'til 4 P.M. family time (though none of his family came
with him) and/or golf.
4 P.M. 'til 5:00 P.M. read the Sword and copy down sermon
outlines for later use.
5:00 P.M. 'til 6:30 P.M. join a church family for a down-home
6:30 P.M. 'til 6:45 P.M. study message that has been preached over
100 times in 82 different churches.
6:59 P.M. arrive at church.
7:00 P.M. 'til 7:30 P.M. glad hand the folks, sit on podium during
preliminaries, check coat pocket for "love offerin's" and nod head
in agreement with introduction.
7:30 P.M. 'til 7:45 P.M. add to and embellish introduction.
7:45 P.M. 'til 8:30 P.M. preach
8:30 P.M. 'til 9:30 P.M. have some church member take him out for
ice cream and pie.
Since this was the first outside evangelist that I had invited, I
was ataken back by the full schedule he was maintainin' and still
hav'en the energy to preach! I guess that is why evangelists are
God's special provision for God's people.
Our first service was durin' the Sunday School hour, and even though
some of the boys had to bring their cows to church to milk them, God
blessed! The people were excited and two cows went forward.
The third service was during our mornin' worship service, and the
second service was durin' the P.M. service. We mixed them up
to build momentum. Then we had A.M. & P.M. services Monday
night thru Friday night.
One thin' that I really liked about Dr. Al was that he often spoke
"heart for lost sinners," but he never seem to have time
to go soul-winnin' while he was here. I imagine he leads lots
of folks to the Lord in airoplanes, elevators, gas pumps, bank lines
and such as that.
Many of my folks seemed excited about his preachin'. especially for
such a short guy. He usually began his messages with a verse
from somewhere in the Bible, but then he must have forgotten where
he got it from since he never mentioned it again! That was helpful
to many of our folks since they brin' those bigole family Bibles to
church, and this week they didn't need to! Didn't need to
bring the small ones neither. Well, after he lost his verse he
just started right in with stories and illustrations taken directly
from his life, or someone else's. He would just go on and on,
sometimes interruptin' his stories by saying "Paul," or "Abraham,"
or "John." I was beginnin' to wonder if he was one of those
themthere namedroppin' preachers, but he never lingered on the
verses. And was he funny, and he thought so too! Why he
had our folks in stitches, probably to keep their minds off the
verse he couldn't find nomore. It was one backslappin',
kneeslappin', sidesplittin' time!
Then at the end of his message he would find an excuse for folks to
raise their hands for needs, then those that raised their hands were
encouraged to come forward to show their sincerity. I thought
most of our folks were pretty sincere before Dr. Al came, but I
guess not cause they sure came forward. I thought the church
was goin' to tip over! And God blessed!
Well, it was a good week for Dr. Al and the chicken parts. He
left with over a hundred pounds, which he had processed into chicken
fingers to be shipped home.
Oh yes, I highly recommend Dr. Al Lowpower for your church's
would ministry be without troubles? And how would you be able
to pray for us if'n you didn't know our troubles? So here goes
some of the various trials we brought upon our ownselves.
The Case of the Missing Money. Mostly you know that a Baptist church is very careful with their money, since they get so little of it. Well, we be especially careful with our offerin's.
Clyde and Bobby Jon are our two unelected deacons. They are unelected 'cause they don't qualify accordin' to the Bible, no matter which versions I check. But we gots to have deacons to be a real Baptist church, so its Clyde and Bobby Jon until we can get some members that has graditated from high school. Now, they take the offerin's every time the church door is open. For offerin' plates we used Grandma Perkins weaved baskets for many months, but the members made holes in the bottom makin' change. Then we went to pie tins, which worked real good until that last after-glow. We finally settled on those nice plasticy buckets used at the beach to make sand castles. Here is how we process the offerin'. Maybe it'l help your church.
1. Take offerin' in Sunday School and A.M. church service. Offering is counted and held in Bobby Jon's Sunday-go-to-meetin' blue jeans, left rear pocket.
2. Take offerin' the second time in church if first time twasn't enough. Add second offerin' to Bobby Jon's blue jeans, same pocket.
3. Take offerin' in the evening service. After evening service, Bobby Jon's back pocket is emptied out into our secure storage cantainor, visa-vi, a Maxwell House coffee can with one of those plasticy lids. This is left out in plain sight behind the sound booth at the back of the church buildin'. Whose is goin' to steel from a church buildin'?
Well, the unthinkable happened. Some sticky-fingered Yankee visitor helped his ownself to the offerin' money! Took all the cash and left the checks, many of which would have bounced anyaway.
Not bein' willin' to be slicked by a city-slicker, I went to the Goodwill and bought us a used desk top safe. It was shaped like a Brink's truck and had numbers that you punch to open the back door. Plus some lights lighted up and the horn worked. It looked real good on my desk!
Followin' Sunday we followed the same procedure from givers to pants pocket to coffee can with the added trip to the Brink's truck safe. Good as gold and twice as safe!
Tuesday mornin' when I open my office (Monday's my day off), the window was broken and the Brink's truck safe had been carted off. But I fooled them this time, cause they got the bad checks too!
Church Mottos: Each year we take a look around our ownselves and try to identify the area of our greatest need as a church. Then we condense this need down to the shortest number of words possible. This becomes our church motto for the year. Then we have one of those oriental distributors make a lapel pin with our motto. These pins are then sold to the membership with the promise that if they are wearin' the pin during our offerin's, they will get a 5% rebait on their tithin's at the end of the year, plus they be automatically entered into the monthly raffle. Some of our latest mottos has been:
2008: Movin' Mountains, Fillin' Valleys (MMFV)
2009: S.S., the Church's Longest Hour (SSCLH).
2010: Strivin' For Mediocrity (SFM)
Graduation. Doctor of Divinity degree with Reservations.
Last year. Honorary mention in the "Whose Who" section of the
Who's Who 76th edition in paperback, under the section,
"Strugglin' Preachers in Unlikely Places."
Year before. Honorable mention in Slate's Seed Catalog, though
I don't know why.