This morning my wife and I had the privilege of worshiping with Corn Creek Baptist Church. Located in the rolling hills of Northern Kentucky just off the Ohio River, it is a church with a long history, as indicated by the cemetery plot in back. The people were so kind and welcoming, and those to whom we spoke indicated that they had been in that area and at that church for their whole life. Aaron O’Kelly is the pastor and a seminary student at Southern, and someone who kindly allowed me to come and preach to his congregation while away in Texas.
Preaching there this morning reminded me of the honor it is to serve churches like CCBC who have for decades permitted young seminarians from Southern to come and fill their pulpits. Reflecting on this, it strikes me that so many of these churches are gifts to young men cutting their teeth on the preaching of God’s word. And I wonder how many even know of their service to the kingdom. So many of these churches endure the constant rotation of young men who come to seminary, take a church (for 1-5 years, perhaps), and then move on to another mission field or congregation somewhere beyond Louisville.
And while the effects of our rotating ministry must be soberly considered by us young preachers, we must at the same time, be grateful for these churches who sacrifice and endure with our developing ministries. We ought thank them publicly and before the Lord for their investment into the church at large for allowing people like me to come and open God’s word. Such kind opportunities have been invaluable in my life and in the lives of thousands of current and future pastors, missionaries, and preachers of gospel. In this service then, these churches clearly have a gift of listening.
I can think of countless moments this morning where improvements could have been made and points clarified, and where a more seasoned pastor could have better exposited in the text. Yet, with grace and patience the people from Corn Creek allowed me to go on. So that despite my youth, the Word was preached, Christ was lifted up, the people were encouraged (so they kindly said), and God was honored. He was honored both in the preaching of and in the listening to the Word. For aspiring pastors and young seminarians, may we pause and give praise for the countless rural and street corner churches who permit us to lisp in their presence; and may those who fill their pulpits labor hard to honor them with Christ-centered sermons and faithful biblical exposition. May we not forget or diminish their longstanding ministry of serving the church as the incubator of young preachers. Truly, if seminary, etymologically speaking, is a seedbed, then churches like Corn Creek are incubators and greenhouses for developing pastors. In this unique role, they serve the church at large and build up the kingdom.
Corn Creek Baptist Church, thank you for your ministry of listening to and loving on a young preacher like myself. Know that churches all over the globe are built up because of your unique ministry!
Sola Dei Gloria, dss