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church church (nature) church growth Lehman Avenue church of Christ Uncategorized

SNAPSHOTS

Neal Pollard

During our recent move from Colorado to Kentucky, I sifted through several boxes and shelves and found paper and digital photographs all the way from Kathy’s and my childhood to our sons when they were small. It’s incredible to witness the dramatic transformation they reveal. We’re still taking pictures, which will be snapshots we look back on in years to come.

As I try to get to know the Lehman Avenue congregation better, I have been given recent church directories. Did you know that we have directories going back to 1955? That one has no photographs in it. The first one that does have photos is from 1978. There are not many in that directory who still worship here today, though you will see entries with the last names Bruner, Daniel, Dickerson, Dunning, Ennis, Gilbert, Hunt, Nicks, Phelps, Raymer, Tabor, and no doubt others including those who may have a different last name today. Do you think the 1978 picture looks like the 2019 person? There are resemblances, but also changes. 

That 1955 directory does give a snapshot of a different kind. In the forward is written the following: 

“The purpose of this directory is three-fold: To give a brief history of the beginning, development and progress of the Lord’s church in Bowling Green; to perpetuate a list of charter members forming the Lehman Avenue congregation; and to better quaint the members of this local congregation with one another, in order that we may work together in the best way possible.” 

I appreciate that the compilers of this directory went to the trouble to trace the history of the church’s establishment in Bowling Green. Eugenia Hayes’ research is included in this first edition. She says that Stone and the Campbells were here, helping to establish the church. The first congregation established here was in the mid-1840s, with six members meeting each Lord’s Day and eventually meeting in a house build on a property on College Street. When threatened by digression in the late 1800s, the church here was aided by such men as M.C. Kurfees from Louisville, Daniel Sommer from Indianapolis, and James Harding from Nashville. A building was built on Twelfth Street in 1899, and Lehman was established from this congregation in 1955. Roy J. Hearn was the first preacher. 

From these “newborn” and “infant” photographs, we can trace our “development and progress.” More “snapshots” are being made constantly, and not just those which show up in the latest directories or on social media. In encouraging Timothy to embrace his ministry and gifts, Paul urged, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to the teaching…” (1 Tim. 4:15-16a). “Take pains” means to improve by care or study, practice, cultivate…” (BDAG 627). “Be absorbed” is better translated “be in them” but conveys the idea of being involved in or devoted to (BDAG 284).”Progress” means “to change one’s state for the better by advancing and making progress” (Louw-Nida 154). “Pay close attention” means “to be mindful or especially observant” (BDAG 362). Put it all together. Improve, involve, and observe yourself in order to make progress. 

When we sit for family portraits, we normally put on clothes we think will flatter us, we give attention to grooming, and we attempt to look our best. What Scripture calls for goes beyond just skin deep. God wants us to focus intently on our “inner man” so that, even as our outer man is decaying, we can “look better” to God each and every day (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16). Look at snapshots of your spiritual past. Look at yourself today. Progress? Regress? “No-gress”? Which is it? Take heart! There’s still time to make changes that will look good to God (and you), so that we can look back with gratitude and satisfaction that we took pains with our spiritual appearance! Strike a Christlike pose! 

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hearing heart honesty salvation

“Let’s Go Throw Rocks At The Campbellite Preacher!”

Neal Pollard

That one statement was what introduced my great grandfather to the gospel and is a big reason why my mom was raised in the church and why I was, too.  A “Campbellite preacher” (so named because of Alexander Campbell, a leading figure of the 19th Century who pleaded with people to throw off the division of denominationalism and restore simple New Testament Christianity) was in their Mississippi community, preaching at the local school house.  Several teenage boys, including my then 19-year-old great-grandfather, conspired together to stand outside and throw rocks at the preacher.  The big talk apparently came to nothing harmful, but standing out there my grandfather was convicted by the preaching.  As the result, he studied more deeply and carefully the Scriptures and found that the denomination he was a part of did not teach the same plan of salvation he read in the New Testament.

Plain, New Testament teaching and preaching, which faithfully and accurately handles the Scripture, has a profound effect on an honest heart.  One who is already persuaded that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, who is convicted that it was faithfully transmitted through time, can see from gospel preaching what God’s will is for “matters of life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).  Such allow the powerful Word to operate skillfully upon their hearts, being persuaded of its penetrating truths (Heb. 4:12).  Even one who may start out angry at the messenger but who is “fair-minded” (cf. Acts 17:11) will “receive the word with all readiness, and [search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [are] so.”  Such an unprejudiced, open-minded attitude will serve such individuals well not only in learning how to become a Christian, but also in how to live the Christian life.  We must keep an honest and good heart if we will be the “good soil” Jesus praises in His parable of the soils (Luke 8:15).

Whatever your age, position in life, race, education level, or physical address, are you teachable? Do you receive the word in humility (Jas. 1:21)?  James says that your soul’s salvation is ultimately at stake.  Whether it regards becoming a Christian or living the Christian life, keep an open and tender heart!  You’ll be eternally grateful that you did.  So may many of your descendants!

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Bear Valley church of Christ Daily Bread Neal Pollard Pollard blog

Protecting Restoration

Neal Pollard

Jesus taught that moth, rust and robbers do their irresistible work upon our things (Mat. 6:19-21).  Anyone who has restored automobiles or houses knows the persistent challenge they face in keeping up with decay and loss in those projects.  In weather-torn Colorado, the elements can speed up the deterioration and destruction of items and especially those which are not protecting whether through painting, sealing, or whatever is needed to preserve them.

On a trip to the Lexington, Kentucky, area on this day in 2013, I visited a part of the world rife with restoration sites.  While I was there to speak on the Cane Ridge Lectureship, the Friday of that program is devoted to going to various sites associated with church history connected with the “Restoration Movement.”  Stephen Besson, a physician and a skillful church historian who has led these tours since the death of author Everett Donaldson, led us up to Mays Lick, Kentucky, to the site of the Campbell-McCalla debate and the graveyard of restoration leader Walter Scott.  The first time I was there, we went to the site of the Cane Ridge meeting house as well as the Lexington Cemetery.  That day, we saw the graves of Barton Stone, Raccoon John Smith, J.W. McGarvey, and others.  There is so much church history in that area that tourers can fill their day for many years with different restoration sites.  Once, when driving through Lexington, I found the house of Moses Lard.

The men I mention were intellectual and spiritual giants, men whose plea was not to be denominational or to form their own sect but to get people back to the Bible.  Their efforts paved the way for thousands to leave religious division and manmade doctrine in favor of New Testament Christianity.  That goal is ever-worthy of pursuit!  It is the only viable basis of religious unity, getting back to the Bible for faith and practice.

Dr. Besson pointed out something while we were at Mays Lick.  The church in that area is numerically weak.  Back in the division between churches of Christ and the Christian Church at the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the congregations went with the digression.  Thus, though there are some very strong congregations in the area, there are relatively few.  There are nine counties in Kentucky without a church of Christ.

The church is either sparse or non-existent in many of the cities we read about in the New Testament–Jerusalem, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, and others.  That seems unfathomable when we think of their august beginnings, yet it is not that unusual.  In our repeated trips to Israel, Kathy and I marvel at the fact that there is one known congregation, relatively small and in Nazareth. It is difficult to keep passing along to new generations the faith, reverence, and respect for the inspiration of Scripture.  Whether prosperity, education, worldliness, or another factor, people can begin to put their trust in something else while losing faith in God’s Word. When that happens, the restoration ideal is endangered.

Our job is to keep the idea of simple, New Testament Christianity not only in our hearts but instill it into the minds of the next generation.  We must take that plea into our communities and workplaces.  When we do, we will be placing our trust in the only source of power there is–God and His Word!

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Mulkey Meeting House in Tompkinsville, KY, visited by Neal and Kathy in May, 2019 (about an hour from our new home in Bowling Green)