By Chris Moon
Retirement didn’t last long for David Bycroft.
“That’s a little bit of a joke,” he told Christian Standard.
Bycroft retired from Tyro (Kan.) Christian Church in September 2017 after a long ministry—47 years in all—that saw the church grow in average weekly attendance from 40 people to 950. And that was in a town of just 250 residents. The church attracted people from towns all around the area.
Not long after preaching his last sermon in Tyro, Bycroft was contacted by the leadership at East Bartlesville Christian Church, located in Bartlesville, Okla., about 30 miles south of Tyro. The church was looking for an interim pastor.
Bycroft signed on for six months. Three months into that arrangement, he agreed to have “interim” removed from his title. Today, the 70-year-old is approaching his two-year anniversary with the church.
Asked how “retirement” has treated him, Bycroft laughed.
“The thing I can say is I have cut back from 80 hours a week to about 40,” he said. But Bycroft seems to have picked up where he left off.
In two years, East Bartlesville Christian Church has grown from an average attendance of about 80 people to 190. The church has baptized 10 people during the past year—a number Bycroft said he wishes were higher.
“Our people have been inviting. They are out there beating the bushes,” he said.
Much of the growth has come from people who had stopped attending the church for one reason or another.
“We began to re-collect several of those folks,” he said.
And five families who had been driving 30 miles each Sunday from Bartlesville to Bycroft’s former church in Tyro have begun to attend EBCC.
Bycroft himself still lives in Tyro; he commutes to Bartlesville each day.
Bycroft said he saw early on that his new church had strong potential. The elders, he said, were very willing to learn from him and to try new things.
“They were absolutely ready and willing to accept direction,” he said.
He admits he was a known quantity to them—Tyro Christian Church is well-known in the region—and he came to them with a certain credibility after all of his years helping grow the church in Tyro.
Bycroft is learning new things, too. With a population of about 40,000 people, Bartlesville dwarfs tiny Tyro.
“I don’t like the traffic,” he said. “You get over it after a while.”
He said he plans to remain at the church as long as his health holds up and as long as he feels he can remain effective.
After that, Bycroft will return to his collection of 22 antique tractors—a hobby he focused on for only a short time during his brief retirement. But again, he doesn’t seem to mind.
“As long as you are having fun, you better stick with it,” he said.
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.