Sunday, January 25, 2009
Broadus IX - Turning Point
By now the little church was beginning to pick up momentum. Attendance was always between 25 and 40. This meant that our front room was full. Two of our bedrooms were being used for Sunday School, and our front yard looked like a parking lot. Mr. Rogers didn't like this at all. He wanted us to quit holding church in his house. So we had to find another location. I had been looking at lots in town on which we could build. I located an excellent lot for $12,000. That seemed like a lot of money, but I was confident that we could raise it among church attendees and in the district home missions program.
By now we were holding Bible Studies at Belle Creek, where about 15 to 20 attended. There was a lot of excitement about our new little church being born. The meager offerings were also helping to pay some of our expenses for being there. Every now and then we would hold the Bible Study down at Mr. Bob M's house near Biddle, which was actually in Wyoming. This is where the turning point came.
Mr. Bob M's family consisted of 9. Some of them were grown, still lived at home and helped run the many thousands of acre ranch. The Adult kids did not attend our church and seldom came to the Bible study. But even if seven of them came regularly, that was a pretty good percentage of the church group. So when they were absent, we felt it.
Bob liked to be in charge of things and control the direction things went. He was also our biggest critic. We sang the hymns too fast for him. Audrey's chicken wasn't tender enough for him. We didn't visit them often enough. And there were other things. He kind of asserted himself as the lay leader of the church, although I sensed that others didn't quite go along with this. They were of the ranching community while the folks at Belle Creek were oil people. Our people in Broadus were truck drivers and other occupations.
So, we were holding a Bible study at Mr. Bob M's house. There were about 25 of us there as all the folks from Belle Creek had also attended. We slowly sang our songs, Mr. Bob M's style. We took prayer requests and prayed over them. We conducted our Bible study. Then just before we left for the night, Mr. Bob M had something he wanted to say.
So just before we returned to our homes, Mr. Bob M told the little congregation how much opposed he was to buying the property in Broadus for the church. How we just didn't have the money. And on and on. In five minutes time he undid what it had taken months to build. The enthusiasm of the congregation melted away.... so did some of them attending. I felt like I was hit in the gut. The remainder of our time there, I felt as though the rest of the congregation felt wounded, hurt, and discouraged. This being my first assignment as pastor, I didn't know how to handle it. I felt angry and discouraged. We soon moved back to North Dakota.
Several weeks later I had a conversation with Mr. Bob M. He told me that he had his eye on that lot to possibly open a new gas station. I'm sure that a gas station is infinitely more important than the church. I hope Mr. M gets his gas station in heaven. And I hope they sing slow enough for him. And I hope the chicken is done. Or maybe the chicken will be really done where Mr. M is going. I'm sure, that where ever Mr. M ends up, he will try to be the boss and alter the course and determine the events. Or, maybe not. Can you imagine what a gas station in hell would be like?
I'm glad I'm not the judge.
Next time I will tell you about the DPP.