In March of 1984 Susanne and I moved from south Texas, to northern Indiana. The Nazarene church in Syracuse, IN had been reorganized and I began this great adventure. We pastored there 7+ years. It was at this location that I became involved in my first building program. Our son was born in nearby Goshen Indiana while pastoring here. This was the church where I learned many important ministry and life lessons.
1 To reach a community you must become involved in the community. The community ministerial association conducted a boat in worship service from Memorial day to Labor day at the largest natural lake in the state of Indiana. It was very well attended and pastors of the community shared the preaching and leading of the service. Several came and sat along the shore and many came in boats and anchored them around the boat that the speaker preached from. It was in this setting that I learned the power of church and ministerial cooperation. It was here I learned that when churches cooperate there is a greater community impact.
2 I really learned leadership in this pastorate. A business leader in the church took me under his wing and taught me important life lessons, as well as I caught a lot of leadership principles by spending time with him. This was a wonderful laboratory of learning. It has impacted my life to this day.
3 It was here that I learned God does do big things in small places. The town was quite small, and the church grew. There are always enough people to lead to faith and to disciple, regardless of the size of the community. Truly some of the best gifts do come in small packages.
4 Prayer became central to the move of God we experienced. Our prayer meetings on Wednesday night became the highlight of the week. We saw answers to prayer and the people were excited to see what God was going to do next.
5 It is exciting to see people come to faith and to see the church increase in attendance. Some of the most fulfilling days of our ministry happened in this little town.
6 I learned that growth does not happen over night. My first service in Syracuse was attended by 18 people. There were Sunday nights in the winter that I preached to less than 10 people. You must do your best even if the crowd is small. I preached my heart out to 8 people, and tried to conduct myself as if there were 800 people there. I learned to keep plugging away and do your best, pray and trust God for the results.
7 I learned there is more to overnight success than overnight! When our church began to grow people thought I was an expert. They wanted to know what my secret was, but the truth was that there was no secret. I also learned to beware of people who tell you there is a secret. Let me tell you the secret, do your best, pray and leave it with the Lord.
Thank you Wawasee Community Church of the Nazarene folks, you made a lifetime impact upon my life. The saddest lesson I learned here was that like my first congregation, many congregations do not survive long term. This church likewise has closed. I left there 24 years ago. The lessons I learned in Syracuse Indiana are still a part of my life. One final lesson, seize the day, today is the only day we are promised.
10 Thoughts to “My Second Church”
Dr. Blake: It was very enjoyable for me to read this from you as it was also a pleasure to be your neighbor and work together on occasion. Thanks for sharing this with us. It was a pleasure to watch how God has used you in such wonderful ways through out your ministry! You are doing a great work on the Indy District! God Bless you and your precious wife!
Pastor John Lutton
You have been my friend since the early 1980’s. Thanks for your faithfulness to the Lord and the Kingdom. What you do makes a difference. Keep up the good work your friend Ron
A very good post. I appreciate the way the Lord has used you in both small and large places. I too, learned along time ago pray, do my best, and leave the rest up to Him. I still have the romance of preaching and pastoring. What a joy to live out my faith in these trying days. I am so thankful that this thing works!
Thank you David for your kind words. You are a great pastor. You are so right If we do our best, pray and leave the results with God. Thanks for your service for the Lord and the church
I too enjoyed your insightful remarks concerning your pastorate in Syracuse. While Tary and I were ridIng in our car back to Wabash today, we passed thru Syracuse on RT 13. I immediately thought of you and how much my mother and father have admired your ministry throughout the years.
Thanks for your comments. Your mom and dad were special people. Many times I think of the pastors who were on the district when I was a young pastor and I am so thankful for the friendship and encouragement. Your dad was at the head of the list. We miss you guys around here. I trust all is going well in your resettlement. Keep in touch. You and Tary are a special couple. blessings.
I was fortunate enough to visit Wawasee Church of the Nazarene two times during my freshman year at ONU (1984/85) with my roommate. My memories are but a flash in time. The church was tiny, the congregation small and there were no modern or outward signs or programs that would seemingly appeal to a typical college kid…but I still remember the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit and love. Thank you for your post.
I remember you very well in those days. What a joy it has been to reconnect with you these years later. The Wawasee Church was a unique place. Good people, who loved God and prayed. It was the norm for the presence of the Lord to be in that place. Many lessons learned there still have an impact on me to this day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are a blessing
I have so many wonderful memories of growing up in that church. Wednesday nights were great! It was a church that really felt like family. i have so many memories of you as a pastor even though I was so young. (My parents are Mike and Deb Parker) Wouldn’t it be fun to just go back in time for a few days and relive some of those great times?
I remember you well. I also the night I came to your house to call on your parents after your first visit to the church. It was a great church. It is exciting to see how the Lord is using you today. God bless you and stay in touch