By David Bycroft, Tyro (Kansas) Christian Church
In 1969, nobody was thinking Tyro Christian Church would ever be anything more than a small country church that would provide a weekend ministry for an Ozark Bible College student. That’s exactly what I thought when I signed on as minister the beginning of my junior year at OBC (now Ozark Christian College). I was looking for a place to get my feet wet, hone my preaching skills, and then move on after graduation. Thirty-seven years later we see the plan God had in store for us—and he’s not done yet.
When I started, I was the only staff member (and part-time at that). Now we have eight staff members and four interns. We’ve also started a Christian school with 15 staff members and 180 preschool through high school students. We averaged 40 in worship in 1969 and 975 in 2006. Tyro had one person who had gone into ministry at that time (my wife, Kathy). Now we have sent 40 young people into ministry, of whom 33 are still in full-time Christian service.
In 1969 we were giving $60 per month to missions, or about 10 percent of our offerings; now we’re at 32 percent. We have a goal of giving at least 50 percent to missions. At the beginning of my ministry it took only about 10 people to do most of the work. Today it takes about 200 volunteers each week to make the church and its ministries run effectively.
We have planted one church and helped start three others. We hope to start a new church in our area every five years.
What God Has Done
If all this sounds a little like bragging . . . it is! But it’s not bragging about what we’ve done, but what God has done through us. We know we weren’t capable of doing any of this by our own abilities in a town of 250 people. How could this happen when we don’t have a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s? In fact we don’t even have a gas station.
Second Corinthians 3:5 is our only battle cry: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God”*.
I sometimes look at our past and present ministry and cannot believe what has taken place myself.
But I believe God wants to duplicate what has happened at TCC all over this land! I don’t believe for one second God somehow chose Tyro as a place where he would pour out blessings that no one else could receive. I believe he longs to do this and even more in any place where people will catch the vision of reaching the lost world. It’s gratifying to hear of other small-town churches across America that are also experiencing God-sized growth and ministries.
Lots of ingredients come together to cause a church to rise up and do a significant work, but I consider Ephesians 3:20 the starter verse: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”
When I went to a church growth conference in the early 1970s it changed my focus and charged my batteries to see what God could do in a small place.
Ben Merold helped create a desire in TCC’s leaders to step up and do a significant work. Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Church and Bob Russell’s book When God Builds a Church give all kinds of encouragement for leaders to understand God’s heart for reaching the lost and organizing the church to fulfill the Great Commission.
One of the ways we helped build this attitude in our congregation was to recruit preachers who were building great churches to come in for revivals. During the revivals we would have them teach these principles at breakfast or noon luncheons.
Another way of developing leaders is through what we call Spiritual Board Meetings. Once each month we get the staff, elders, and deacons together and I teach a lesson that involves their spiritual development, family relationships, and church-growth principles. This monthly meeting has made an enormous difference over the past 30 years.
Finally, never underestimate the power of consistent praying. Establish a growth goal and get the congregation to pray for it. Recruit personal prayer partners and feed them requests about church decisions that will help get the church involved in winning your area for Christ!
Your church’s future is up to you and God! Just make it “A God Thing”!
*Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard version.
David Bycroft is evangelist with Tyro (Kansas) Christian Church.