This is an adaptation from Tommy Barnett’s newly released autobiography (Feb. 4, 2020), “What If?”
I’ve never agreed with the church “experts” who advise pastors who have just come to a church to tread lightly so they could gradually bring the congregation around to their new ideas and new programs.
There’s a different method I prefer: Go in and shoot all your big guns, let everyone know exactly where you’re going, and most importantly, start leading people to Christ. You’re probably going to lose some people who don’t want anything to change, but that’s fine. You’ll replace them with people eager to join you in your mission. Old wineskins can’t hold new wine. I hate to say this, but a lot of church people don’t really want new people coming in. They feel threatened (or at least uncomfortable) around people they don’t know, especially if those people don’t look like them.
In Davenport, we had to do something immediately to let people know what kind of church God wanted to build. The most important word in that sentence is “we.” I assumed they had called me because they wanted to do big things for God at Westside Assemblies of God.
My dad had given me an old International Harvester school bus that he didn’t dare use anymore. The engine barely ran, and when it did, it was hard to keep the bus going straight because its steering was so bad. I named our bus “She Needs”: she needed tires, she needed gas, she needed a paint job, she needed a complete overhaul.
I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, so I just parked it out behind the church. On my second Sunday as pastor, a lady introduced herself and shared something that caught my attention. “Pastor, I’ve been saved for only a few months, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to do this, but I’ve been going out every week knocking on doors in my neighborhood leading people to Christ. I’ve got so many of them now, but I don’t know how to get them to church because a lot of them don’t have cars. When I told some of the people at church about it, they told me just to let them find their own church. I don’t want to make anyone angry, but I’d sure like to get them involved in our church.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I told her, “Sister, you’re exactly who I’m looking for. I’m going to give you a bus!”
The lady, her husband, and I walked behind the church and got into that dilapidated old bus. I got it started and showed her how to put it in gear. Then I had her drive it around the block. I confess that I was a little nervous as she worked that stubborn clutch and jerked forward every time we started into an intersection. She didn’t mind that the bus was a dinosaur — she literally beamed as she sat behind the wheel. She was a tiny lady, barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Tommy Barnett