Top Ten Churches In My Life

Perhaps it’s hard to believe I’ve been to  ten churches in my life, but it’s actually more. Churches have been influential to my life from before I was even born through every stage of my life. Up until recent years and only because of employment choices, I have gone to just about every service from the day I came home from the hospital in my mother’s arms. Those who aren’t part of a church are missing out on much more than a Bible study. They’re missing an extended but close family to share life’s ups and downs with.

This was an easy list to come up with as ten churches in my life stand out very distinctly. Here are my top ten and how they fit into the history of my life.

Faith Baptist of Posen, Illinois

My mother and we kid’s attended Faith Baptist when we lived in Oak Forest, Illinois. I was about fourteen. My dad worked the night shift so he wasn’t able to go. I remember the sermon always being shorter than I wanted it to be. Pastor Bill Stedman was a beloved pastor there. I remember that he preached a chapter service at my school at South Side Christian School when I was in the second or third grade. I even remember that he preached about Samson. A few years after we  moved away and started attending somewhere else, my mom’s dad started going there. We called him Papa. What a joy it would have been to be able to see him when we went. He started attending after our cousin passed away suddenly during basketball practice. Papa said that Christopher would have wanted him to go. Papa continued to attend until he passed away. Part of the funeral was held there and many of our family members were there.

What’s most  significant about Faith Baptist, however, is that some sixteen or seventeen years earlier, my father and mother met each other and we’re married there. It was back then that my Father’s dad and step mother Amy attended. Amy was key in introducing my mom and dad to each other. It is very fitting that Faith Baptist Church be mentioned first for reasons both of significance and chronology.

First Baptist Church of Burbank Illinois

First Baptist Church of Burbank was the first church I remember going to. We had moved from Massachusetts. My dad became the assistant pastor and we lived in the parsanage. I have some fond memories surrounding those five or six years but what’s most significant about this church is that not only did I get a great Bible education here, I was lead to understand and receive the gift of salvation through the preaching of Pastor Aulgur. I was also Baptized here. Pastor Aulgur always seem to have a smile. My brother walked in my father’s footsteps and became the assistant pastor for a time.

Calvary Baptist Church, Hillsdale, Michigan

Not long after I started college my dad took the pastorate at Calvary Baptist in Hillsdale. He would become their longest serving pastor and would lead the church in the most baptisms in one year than any other year in its history.

This is the first church I’ve ever had the privilege of preaching in. I’ve also been able to teach Sunday School and run junior church.

Today my brother Samuel has filled our father’s shoes and is the current pastor.

Black Oak Baptist, Black Oak, Indiana

This was my grandmother Judy’s church as long as I knew her. She recruited me to help in the King’s Kids program on Tuesday nights. I was reluctant at first but it became the highlight of my week while in college.

My dad’s old college buddy is the pastor here. Pastor Bob Parnell with his friendly carasmatic personally lead the church from a small congregation to its filled capacity today. My grandma Judy was thrilled to see that happen. She too was a carasmatic personality in the church and served as the piano player until she passed away in 2008.

An  interesting fact is that both Judy and pastor Parnell attended Faith Baptist Church in Posen Illinois back when my parents were married there.

First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana

I attended this church during my years in college. I saw the church grow from big to even bigger; outgrowing their auditorium of 5,000 to a new auditorium of 7,500 capacity. Their ministry reached around the world directly starting missions and sending a coalition of teams at a time.

None of that is the reason this church makes my list. After I became a post college student, I fell on some tough times. Bob Marshall reached out to me and invited me to his sundayschool. He also personally visited me. When I was out of work, he helped me get some temporary work and was working on helping me find a more perminant job. It was a strange feeling being ministered to in stead of being the minister. I am forever grateful for his kindness and understanding to me.

First Baptist Church of Wixom, Michigan

I moved to Michigan and lived with my Brother-in-law and sister. I had been served eviction papers after having worked a temperary job and having to wait six weeks for my first and only pay-check. It would have covered the rent and then some but it came two days after I was given the eviction notice. More details of this story will be posted another time.

First Baptist of Wixom welcomed me at the very worst time of my life. My first Sunday, I came late on purpose as to not be noticed. I wanted to be anynimous. For their Christmas play, the kids performed Captain Patch’s Camp Kookawaka Woods play. I thought it was an odd theme for Christmas, but it brought up some childhood memories. I grew up listening to Patch the Pirate on tape. I sat there in the back corner of a darkened auditorium as tears ran down my face. Life for me was as dark as that auditorium and I felt as dead as a corps. I left before the end of the prayer for dismissal.

The next service I wasn’t as shy. I filled out the visitors card and met a few people. I joined the church and became part of the handy man ministry where we helped with houshold maintanence for our elderly or disabled members. I also attended the young adult activities. A few years after I moved away, Jenny and I visited and I expressed how the church helped me through the worst year of my life.

Calvary Bible Church, Dowagiac, Michigan

This is the church that influenced Jenny growing up. She became a Christian and was baptised there. The pastor and his wife helped Jenny through some challenging times. There was no doubt in Jenny’s mind where she wanted to be married after I purposed to her. This list wuld not be complete without Calvary bible Church.

Freedom Farm Bible Church, Pittsford, Michigan

Freedom Farm really helped in turning my life around. After being cut from an army mission and left without a car or a job, I found myself in a situation I didn’t think I could get out of. After Jenny and I were engaged, however, that all turned around. The principle of the school, Tim Neinis, at Freedom Christian School asked if I would be interested in overseeing the fourth through sixth grade learning center as a supervisor. Within months I went from hopless to having a wife, a respectable job, and a place to call my own.

Bible Believers Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas

BBBC in Corpus Christi Texas recieved Jenny and me when we first moved to Texas. They were welcoming and helpful. We met with the pastor a week after we first attended the church. He and his wife took us out to eat and we talked. We were interested in joining the church. Unlike all the other churches I’ve been to, this church wanted people to attend the church a while before joining. In our meeting the pastor told us, “We like people to ‘sit’ a while before joining.”  We “sat” for about six months before there was a joining orientation we were encouraged to go to. The church had a few joining times a year which went over the church covenent and answered any questions the group who intended to join might have. This does making membership more of a privilage than it might normally be. 

Without any solicitation, the church and it’s members helped us when they felt we had a need. One of these occasions (and there were several) is when my truck’s steering snapped and I was without a vehicle. A couple in the church came to us and told us they wanted to contribute $500 to our next vehicle. A week or so later, they found a vehicle and helped us purchase it.

We loved Corpus Christi and BBBC and did not want to leave. When we did leave though, Pastor Bevans Welder recomended the following church to us. We never had to look any further than his recomendation.

Calvary Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas

Upon the recomendation of Pastor Welder, we visited Calvary Baptist the first Sunday we were living in the area. Pastor David Beatty succeded his father who had passed away prematurely from cancer. Pastor Beatty is in his mid thirties and has taken the church to the next level. He has a vision for thein a quickly growing city. At a men’s retreat last year, he shared the next step in that vision. The whole men’s retreat was a highlight, but I was excited to be a part of that meeting aswell.

Like our previous church, the people of Calvary Baptist have been very welcoming and helpful. When we first moved into our house, a couple men brought over a lawnmower so we could cut our lawn. When my car died, another member drove way out of the way to pick us up after church.  There are more ways this church and it’s members helped us that are worth mentioning, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing all of them here. I am more comfortable helping others than being helped, but I am thankful for all those who have helped us in small and big ways.

How has your church help you in the past? Share your story in the comments below.

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