Thirty days after my 30th birthday, I became the preaching minister for a small-town church in the Midwest. My baptism into Christ had taken place only nine years earlier, and I had not been involved with church in any way before that. Now, with limited experience, I was expected to lead a church with an average attendance of about 345. I was excited—and scared.
My first Sunday, the elders came to me between Sunday school and the worship service for prayer. They prayed for my family, my preaching, the worship service, and the salvation of souls. When the prayer meeting was over, the chairman said, "Now you are the quarterback, and we are here to run interference and to help. Please do not get involved in things that might hold you back. Call on us and we will be there."
Later I told my wife that I suspected the prayer meetings and helpful attitude would last about three months. However, when I closed my ministry there 13 years later, the weekly prayer meeting was still taking place, ...1