Lessons Learned From My ‘Church Fathers’

A few weeks ago I taught a Bible study for the men of our church. I shared with them the difficult situation that the American church is currently experiencing while most Christian men sit idly by remaining silent. A common characteristic of churches that are not silent and are obediently reaching their communities for Jesus Christ is the presence and involvement of men. For five weeks I gave the challenge for our men to lead, love, and protect their families in a way that would honor and glorify God. I knew that embracing this calling at home would overflow into our church. A follower of Christ that serves his family like Jesus will eventually serve those in his church family like Jesus. In a sense, these servant leaders are not only fathers to their children but eventually become “church fathers.”

In recognition of Fathers Day, I want to share with you some of the priceless lessons I learned from men doing the right things for the right reasons.

There is no denying that I have been richly blessed in the area of church fathers. I grew up in a small church in Barnwell, SC that was never trendy or cool, but it was a church that felt like family. Like biological family, we were together a lot. At least three times a week we were meeting for Bible studies and corporate worship. You may be thinking, “That is a lot of church!”, but as a pastor now, I’m thinking…”Wow, that is a lot of volunteers!” As a matter of fact, I couldn’t count the number of men and women that God used to teach me “to observe all Christ had commanded” (Matthew 28:16-20).

It truly would be impossible to recall all the individuals God used to disciple me growing up but here are a few church fathers that taught me some very important life lessons.

My Pastors – The national average for pastors’ tenure is slightly increasing but traditionally it has been a little over two years. No one ever told this to the men where I grew up because the two pastors that shepherded me preached for decades. The many years they faithful served taught me some of the best pastoral advice I ever learned. They taught me to not push away from the table easily and to “Preach, Pray, Love, and Stay.” It’s easy to think of reasons to walk away, (I probably gave them a couple myself!), but remember, when God clearly calls you to a place be sure it is God that clearly calls you away.

Lesson #1: Don’t push away from the table easily or quickly. Click To Tweet

Mr. Ken – I still remember being a teenager and Mr. Ken teaching my Sunday night Bible study. I can’t remember any of the verses or Bible stories he taught, but I remember his dedication. I remember that teaching the Bible study was worthy of his best effort and you could count on him to be there.  He didn’t teach the class because he was the best communicator, because he was the best connecting with teenagers, or because his children were in the class (they weren’t). I’m convinced he taught my Bible study for no ulterior reason than his deep love for Jesus and wanting to serve Him well.

Lesson #2: Jesus alone is worthy of our service Click To Tweet

The Church Leadership – When I began serving at my current church, I remember having an “informative” conversation with a church member regarding some of the church leaders. I had an older gentleman, out of his love for Jesus and for me, explain who was willing (and not willing) to pray in church. I’m very appreciative for that conversation and feel it saved me from some potentially awkward worship services; however, his words were so different from the church world I grew up. I grew up seeing deacons like Mr. Roy, Mr. Hubert, Mr. Fankie, and even my dad not only pray, but also open the Word of God and teach. None of them had the calling of “pastor” like many of us think of it, but each of them was willing to serve as needed.

Lesson #3: The power in preaching comes from the message, not the messenger. Click To Tweet
Mr. Frankie – It’s been said that Charles Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers” in a pre-sound system world, would measure his students’ chests to see if they had the lungs to preach. If Mr. Frankie would have applied to be a student of Spurgeon, he would have easily been approved; and it makes sense that he was the one that led the singing each week. Thinking back, I can still see Mr. Frankie standing at the front left of the church with his hymnbook open leading the church to worship God. Often I didn’t want to be there, tired from staying out too late the night before, but the passion and conviction that accompanied Mr. Frankie’s voice were often the motivation I needed to worship anyway..especially when I did not feel like it. We live in a world with so much pride it’s often difficult to humble ourselves to sing…our world needs more Mr.Frankies leading the way because our God is worthy.
Mr. Hubert – When I was in middle school our home church started a new ministry called A.W.A.N.A. It was sorta like boy scouts for church kids. We memorized Bible verses and actually had a lot of fun in the process. Mr. Hubert was one of the main leaders that after working a ten hour day would arrive at the church in his Awana uniform ready to go. He didn’t serve children and teenagers because he was bored, because of the appreciation he would receive (or even that sweet uniform he used to wear!). I’m convinced Mr. Hubert served because he knew children learning about Jesus on a level that they could understand was important to God and therefore important to him.
My Dad – I did youth ministry for a decade before God transitioned my heart to work primarily with the bigger kids…adults. But when I was predominately leading youth, I observed something. The unchurched students (or those not raised in church or by Christian parents) our ministry reached when compared with the churched students (or those raised in church by Christian parents) often grew faster and displayed more spiritual fruit than those with Christian parents. It just didn’t seem to make sense. How could this be? What I eventually realized was the significant role parents play in the discipleship of their children. The students rarely outpaced their parents in the area of their discipleship while rarely participating in the Christian disciplines that their parents didn’t participate. Think of it this way, how hard would it be for you to explain to your children that reading their Bible is important if they have never witnessed you reading your Bible? Parents can be the standard God uses to encourage children to pursue God more or the standard God works in spite of.
I share this with you to explain the home I grew up in. My parents not only told me what a follower of Jesus looks like but they also showed me. I had a father that not only told me time with God, tithing, church attendance, and serving through the local church was important, but he also showed me they were important by participating in them himself.

Conclusion – I share these men and the lessons they taught me with the hopes they will encourage you to be a more visible follower of Jesus within your home and church. The men God used to help me become more like Jesus were not perfect men by any measure, but I’m confident that each of them trusted in a perfect savior for their hope and their future. The overflow of their relationships with God made it all the way to me and are a testament to the reach godly influence can have upon people.

I pray this helps you grow in your love for Jesus, His Church, and His mission.

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From My ‘Church Fathers’

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. Melanie and I have talked about how we miss those days at Ashleigh. Lots of great memories.

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