Having come from Jack Hyles church, I was set to go. I came in with the idea that I could change this church into a real Independent Baptist FBC Hammond Hyles Church. Yep, this is true.
I made a few recommendation that I though would help the church. (1) All workers and teachers should be members of the church (2) I would lead the church and not the women. (3) I would preach the fifth Sunday of the Month rather than having a fellowship. (4) Leaders should not be having Mormons in their home for classes . Just a few changes you know.
After about a month, there were a few who didn’t like all these ideas. There was a stir in the flock of sheep. Yep. Charity was ready to leave. I was ready to leave. I don’t know about the kids.
The adult teacher didn’t understand why he had to join the church, the song leader didn’t understand why he could not have Mormon classes in his home, and the youth workers couldn’t understand why they had to be accountable to the Pastor. I was in shock of course.
So I believe we called for a meeting, and we had a rather good turn out for this meeting. I made a speech: "I have come to Altoona, believing that you believed the Lord wanted me to pastor this church. I am here believing this also. Altoona is only a small town of 500 people, and a small county. I don’t need to stay here, $50 dollars a week is not enough for me to stay. (I was making 10 times that at Pullman Standard.) If you don’t want me to be the Pastor of this church, and lead this church as I believe the Lord would desire, than we will leave, no problem."
I had just came from the great FBC of Hammond, Ind. I had seen and studied the ministry of that great church. You would think that would have given me some ability to lead a church. I had studied from the Thomas Road Baptist Church, in Lynchburg, Va. I had a suitcase full of ideas and thoughts to bring to the church for church growth. I really was in shock that some of the folks just didn’t get it.
I asked for those who disagreed with me, to voice their opinion and say what was on their mind.
I was ready to leave for sure, and so was Charity. I believe there was a vote taken, I can’t remember, but anyway, more wanted to follow the leadership of the pastor than the leadership of those few who were in charge before I came. So those people left, and the rest stayed. So we stayed for the next sixteen years. And we are very thankful for our wonderful time there.
Those who stayed were willing to put up with me, and my preaching and leadership. Even Mrs. Ethel York, whose husband was the original deacon of the church stayed, and was a real a pain. Well, she kept me in line for the next few years. She was a great lady anyway. The teacher left, the song leader left, the deacon left, and women left, the youth workers left...... goodness was anyone left. Why did we not leave?
So what is the problem here, Lord?. Hasn’t this been done before. Like Madison Baptist Church in 1971? Had I not learned any skills of leadership in nine years? Why am I not adequate in this role as pastor? Why am I getting people all agitated? Please don’t ask Charity! . It’s actually not in the plan..
After all I was using some of the learning and training, I received at Hyles-Anderson College. I really believed that these principles were very good.
What I learned the next few years about these excellent people in Kansas is they were just like anyone else. Well in some cases they really did outshine other folks I had known–they were very patient with me.
SO WHAT WERE SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES WE WERE TRYING TO DO IN THOSE FIRST FEW YEARS.
What did I think when I came to FBC in Altoona: that I could be a good preacher/pastor to the people in this church? What had I learned that would equip me to do a reasonably good job?
While this church was twenty five years old, you would have believed the church membership would have been well seasoned for church life. I have made the comment, that the church membership is as only as good as they have been discipled by its leadership.
I liked a challenge to undertake the responsibility of a local church body and see spiritual growth and extend their the knowledge of the Lord. When I first came to FBC, I think I had the desires to try to build a church that the Lord would be pleased with. As I have said previously, you are only as good as what you have learned.
What I had learned in Hammond was great, but I wanted to regulate, or temper some of those things I didn’t think were going to work at FBC. I wanted to see growth in number, of course, but in truth I realized that in Altoona, the attendance was not going to be large.
Having visited the surrounding towns. (Fredonia and Neodesha) I learned that there were already a number of good Baptist churches that were doing a rather good job in their town. Thus I decided to work with those whom the Lord would give is in the area of Altoona.
I realized that before we could grow, we needed to do some work on our physical building. Our first project was to get some new pews.
I believed some of the practical suggestions that I learned at Hyles were good. I believe I have already mentioned some of those things I put into effect at FBC.
Drafted and Posted by Charles E. Whisnant October 04, 2006
Checked By Charity F. Whisnant