by Don Anderson
JACKSON, MI – At almost all of the church growth conferences I ever attended, I was told that a pastor would rarely be able to reach anyone ten years on either side of his age.
That was rather disheartening to me, and I decided that would not be the case at any church where I was to pastor. So, when I came to this church 29 years ago at the age of 43 and saw there were fourteen people attending regularly who were mostly over sixty years old, I determined that God wanted me to reach out to many who were much younger than me.
God reminded me through my wife Diana that we needed to pray for children and youth workers so we would have them ready when the younger people started to come.
As a result of those prayers, God opened the hearts of three of our older adults to volunteer as we started a van ministry to bring in children who were quickly followed by their older siblings and parents.
We had only been on the field here a little more than a month when we held a VBS with the help of a team from a Tennessee church. It was successful, and many of the kids who attended had their parents with them on parent’s night.
Up until COVID hit, we had very good Bible Schools for years, and now, we have some young adults from those Bible Schools who bring their own children to Sunday school and church worship services here.
Through the years, we have done outreach in our community through neighborhood block parties, taking our VBS workers to other churches in the state to help them with VBS and other work projects, taking mission teams to Costa Rica, and delivering food during the COVID crisis to our community through the school lunch distribution program as well as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The church has by no means become a large congregation, but we have more than tripled in size since my wife and I came on the field here. We have seen the congregation go from a mostly over 60 age group to a mostly under 40 age group. Meanwhile I have aged from 43 to 72. Jesus has shown us that no matter how old you are, he can reach any age group to whom you reach out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Anderson was saved at VBS at eight years old. He started preaching at the age of 16 and has pastored one mission and four churches since the age of 28. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Texas Tech and a Master of Christian Studies from Union University in Jackson, TN.