The official name of our church is The Twain Harte Community Church aka The Chapel In The Pines. The word community indicates that we are not a member of any denomination and that our campus is located in Twain Hare.
Being independent has its advantages, but to a new pastor (in 1955 when Alva and I began our ministry here) you can feel pretty much alone. No like-minded Pastors to fellowship and pray with at denominational events.
When I heard about free Pastor’s Conferences at Hume Lake Campground I signed up immediately! The cost was paid by Hume Lake, a mission organization, and a publisher of Sunday School materials. This was great, and I went each year for a number of years.
At that first conference the main speaker and Bible teacher was the President of Multnomah School of the Bible in Oregon. He was old enough to command the respect of everyone present, and was the one I enjoyed most of all the conference speakers that followed. In his first address (we were there five days) he began something like this: “Brethren, I have seen hundreds of pastors leave Multnomah and begin their ministries. Alas, a much too high percentage of them stumbled and left the ministry. The three major stumbling blocks were the pastor’s pride, the pastor’s misconduct with women, and the pastor’s misconduct win money matters. I have never forgotten this warning, and my observations during 69 years as a pastor verify that he was right.
You know what? Those stumbling blocks are equally dangerous to all of us. So as I talk about these three hazards to pastors, I hope all of us will be prompted to pray for pastors and each other so we can evade the dangers and be fruitful pastors and Christians and good examples of those who bear the name of Christ.
This first essay will be on Pride. In 1948, when I got really saved under the ministry of the Chapel’s first pastor, Will J. Callahan, the Chapel was the only church east of Standard. When we arrived to begin our ministry at the Chapel seven years later another church had been started in a rented facility, and was ready to dedicate its newly finished building. Alva and I attended the dedication and welcomed them as fellow laborers for Jesus in the area.
We were so busy with our own new responsibilities that we lost track of the other church for a few years. One afternoon Alva and I were both in the Parsonage when the doorbell rang. I answered the door and a gentleman in his mid-thirties introduced himself as the new pastor of the other church, making a courtesy call on a fellow pastor. I invited him in, and we sat down together, Alva and I not knowing what to expect.
He waded right in. He was a graduate of the Christian College and Seminary of a denomination in the mid-west. He had been the pastor of one of their churches for nine years, and had accepted the call to come out to build up this small mission church of his denomination. He explained that in his denomination the leader was not called Pastor (shepherd-servant of the flock) but Dominie (One who had dominion over the flock). Along this line he told his new congregation not to expect him to “mow their lawns” like the pastor over at the Chapel did. I guess he had heard that Alva and I did a lot of hands on helping of our congregation, though there were really no lawns in Twain Harte to mow.
He said he had nine years worth of sermon notes from his first pastorate, so he could spend all his time growing the church, and to expect that when our people heard all that was going on in his church that they would all gravitate over to hear him sing and preach.
When he had given us this fair warning, he got up and left. Alva and I could not believe it. After a few minutes of considering what he said, we burst out in gales of laughter. It wasn’t long before we had another, but indirect, contact.
I answered the phone and recognized the voice of George Wingo. He and his wife, Belle, owned and ran the local bakery, and were faithful members of the Chapel. He said the other church was doing a welcome celebration for their new Dominie and had ordered a cake, and he wondered what words he should put on the cake. I don’t know why Dominie’s secretary didn’t tell George what to put on it but I gave him an appropriate Bible verse and I guess they were happy.
We were busy as the Chapel was growing rapidly in the early days of the Charismatic Movement and forgot the other church. But after two years, give or take, I got a call from George Wingo. The other church was putting on a farewell for the Domionie, and had ordered a cake. George wanted to know what to put on it. I asked him why he didn’t ask Dominie’s secretary when she ordered it. George said, “I did, and she told me to put any damn thing I wanted on it.” I dutifully gave him a nice scripture verse to put on Dominie’s cake.
It was funny, but it was sad. His time at the other church had turned out so badly that he left the ministry and became an insurance salesman. His pride and arrogance apparently led to his downfall. (James 4:6b “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”)
Remember, Lucifer (light bearer) was an archangel, the Morning Star, an anointed Cherub, of great beauty, but became proud and coveted the position of God Himself, for which he was judged by God and became Satan (adversary) and the devil (accuser) per Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. Pride was Satan’s downfall, and he and his demons stir us to pride to accomplish our downfall also, if we let him.
Be back soon with Pastors And Their Problems II, Lord willing.