I’m grateful for a preacher who did what Bob Russell didn’t.
In his interview this week, Bob says he wishes he’d started a “Preacher Boys Club” as a part of his local-church ministry. When I was in junior high and high school, the minister did exactly that.
Actually two ministers led our group at the Christian church in Waukegan, Illinois. It was started by Robert Sheets and continued by Steve Willis who followed him in ministry there.
We met before Sunday-evening youth group and learned about different kinds of sermons and how to deliver them. We took turns preaching at Sunday-evening Youth Nights. We went with the whole youth group to visit the nearest Bible college, Lincoln Christian College, where the annual Talent Rally drew hundreds of teenagers from all over the area.
Four from that group of 8 or 10 are still in ministry today. Bill Baker is professor of New Testament at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University. Joe Grana is professor of biblical studies at Hope International University, Fullerton, California. Steve Ormord is the preacher at Valley Christian Church, Artesia, New Mexico. And I have served with Standard Publishing for 34 years.
Three of these four attended Lincoln Christian where we’d had so many happy experiences as teenagers. All of us could tell how the encouragement we received those years pointed us toward vocational Christian service. Several others from the group also attended Christian college and have served as volunteer church leaders and Christian fathers who pursued professions other than ministry.
A “Preacher Boys Club” could have similar impact in many places today. And that’s only one of several good ideas. A senior minister taking kids from his church to a Christ In Youth rally or the North American Christian Convention could make a lifetime influence. The elder’s or Sunday school teacher’s sacrifice of vacation time to accompany teenagers on Christian college visits would inspire some of them to enroll.
And the “effectual, fervent prayers” of a whole congregation for God to raise up laborers could result in a remarkable harvest.
The Just One Challenge described this week might move readers to one of these actions, but actually it is suggesting something simpler than any of them: choose one young person and challenge him or her to consider vocational Christian service. Then pray for God to guide that young person and make clear his will.
As we send this issue to tens of thousands of readers, we can only imagine what will happen if many will agree that this challenge should be their goal.