I would like to give a brief history of my experiences in helping plant a church on the South Shore of Long Island, NY about 60 miles from the City. Rusty Bolton gave me the invitation to join him in 1963. He was on a southern tour looking for people to join him. I was an electrical engineer working at Texas Instruments at the time for about 6 years out of college. I dropped out of engineering and Skillman Ave. supported me those 6 years. That is what I will be commenting on...the 6 years.
We started out meeting at Rusty and Martha's house basement with about 15 in attendance, mainly 10 from the Commack church on the North Shore and 5 from Texas. Several were school teachers. One was superintendent of schools in a nearby district. Rusty and I shared the pulpit. My family lived in his basement for a few weeks until we could secure a residence to live in. So each service meant we had to lift our mattress and move it out of the way. Rusty and Martha were great people to put up with my family of four. Two were 3 and 6 yrs. old.
He hung a sign out in his front yard showing the times of meeting, etc. We knocked on door alot but had little success. We had a local radio broadcast Rusty and I both worked at. Keep in mind I had little training compared to Rusty and we both had a great love for the Lord. After 5 years Rusty left Medford (actually where the church started) and his family went to Australia to join a work there for awhile.
Most of our contacts were not planned in advance. I received a letter one time from a member of the West Islip church on L.I. (where Dwayne Evans was the pulpit preacher) and our postman saw on the address "Exodus Bay Shore." This kindled some interest in the Postman to ask about that. That gave me the opportunity to tell him what the church of Christ was doing there. His curiosity led me to ask if I could come to his house and tell him about us.
It so happened that he was a member of the John Birch Society, a conservative political group. 12 attended our first meeting, and I was a personal friend of Dan Smoot, a former FBI agent who presented messages with the support of H.L. Hunt on TV. When they checked by calling him to verify my status with him, I presented the Good News and 10 of these were baptized. Personal contacts led to others, and between Rusty and myself for the lst 3-4 years there were over 100 baptisms.
Today the church numbers about 120 and the preacher is John Moore, a very able preacher who has been there for 4-5 years. Lea, my wife, and I made our way to this church two or so years ago for the 40th anniversary. It is all indigenous. The Spirit had a definite part in this. Sometimes the Spirit may make things happen in ways that are much better then what we can dream up.
Warning: From observing the church at large on L. I. there were efforts for preachers to get together with staff members. Over a period of time some of the finest men you could ask for fell in love with the wrong people, and several divorces occurred. So it behooves each of us to study to some degree dynamics of group behavior.
I praise God that little o'le me was allowed by God to be used in a way that helped other people raise their voices to Him in praise over victory over the evil one.
Thanks for sharing your experiences in Long Island. As we seek to re-discover a missional approach to church, stories like yours should remind us that the most courageous steps, no matter how small, will have long-lasting impacts. I praise God with you that you have been able to witness that impact.
Bill, I am glad that you shared your story. I love your evangelistic heart! As you say, God can do much greater things than we can dream up. An essential part of missional theology is the belief that the Spirit of God has been sent out into the world before us. We are following in his footsteps, going places he has already prepared for us.
It is indeed amazing for God to use any of us. This is one of the strange but true aspects of the gospel--that God chooses to partner with us to accomplish his will.
"Father in the name of Jesus Christ restore mobility back too her life restore ordor back and finally This will make a Differance in her hold life Give her you father for my sister Kishinev Davis and my sister tanksley Dovie. Amen"