David Knight loved to deliver a good sermon. He often joked that he would rather preach than eat. This Saturday’s night service at the Morningside Community Church was no different. Although he held a slight regret that he couldn’t attend Michael’s game, which he guessed was probably over now, he was excited to be right where he was.
The church started in his home, with him, his wife Tara, and two other couples. The six of them were called, commissioned and sent from the First Baptist Church of Ozark Falls, the 500 member “big church” run by Jeremiah, a little over a year ago.
In that brief period of time, the church had grown to fifty members and was now renting space in a 4000 square foot modular building owned by and located at Ozark College. This arrangement worked great because rent was cheap and the building could be configured easily into temporary classrooms for small group studies before and after services. It wasn’t pretty, but it was functional.
From the beginning, David insisted on a Saturday, non-traditional service aimed primarily at un-churched young people and those at risk. He’d developed a heart for youth ministry over the years by serving in his home church under Jeremiah, since he was eleven years old. His early experiences made him sensitive to the serious problems facing young people. He’d dealt with drug addictions, broken homes, teenage pregnancies and abuses of all kinds. Even in a small town like Ozark Falls, the depth of issues facing young folks was breathtaking.
At first he was afraid to deal with the problems beneath the show put on by many churchgoers. It was one thing to smile at people passing in the aisles and another to know that Johnnie was being abused by his uncle or that Mary Joe was three months pregnant and considering an abortion.
Jeremiah helped him recognize that he had a gift of understanding and relaying God’s word to hurting people and that it was his mission in life to fulfill that purpose. He would never be happy unless he obeyed the God’s mandate. At the age of seventeen, he stepped from behind the passing smile and committed his life to ministry.
He tried to be a strong mentor and friend to Michael and Cindy, giving them a solid example of a young man sold-out to God. Cindy was unfazed as far as he could tell. For as much zeal as he showed for the Lord, she demonstrated equal fervor for pop stars, movies and wannabes.
David prayed that she would one day find a committed Christian husband to help her along the path. God knows she wasn’t on that path right now. He loved his sister, but didn’t approve of her choices and supported Jeremiah in his position on her live-in relationship with Ramon Sanchez.
He and Ramon had been classmates at Winfield High, but ran in different crowds. He was president of the Christian Students Union and a part-time youth pastor for most of high school. Ramon was known for partying and being a hell-raiser. Ramon was definitely not his pick for his little sister and he knew that went double for Jeremiah.
He wished it could be different with him and Cindy. He wished that he could be more of an influence on her life. She’d always been headstrong; the type who takes the opposite side of any issue for the mere challenge. This had stymied her teachers, authority figures and their father to no end. David sighed. She was still stumping everyone.
One thing no one could argue with though, was her heart. She was one of the most compassionate and caring individuals he’d ever known. She could never stand aside and see someone in pain. She always did something about it.
He remembered when they were kids Cindy always gave away her birthday money to needy children or to the church. During summers, she worked in food pantries and homeless shelters. Even now, she was working as a social worker at a youth center in Kansas City, not far away. She always reached out to touch the lives of broken people. In that way, she reminded him of Jesus.
He glanced around the room, quickly doing an inexact head count: Not bad for a Saturday night. Some members of First Baptist had volunteered to help him get the church off the ground and were faithful to be at each service. In some ways, Cindy put many of these regular church members to shame. She may not have attended church much, but she loved much.
David never doubted his call to full-time service. He’d done everything in church, from leading youth to cleaning the toilets. He was well-prepared and trained to begin and nurture a new church. When the time arose, Jeremiah and the First Baptist family commissioned him and Tara and sent them. Although nervous, he took comfort that First Baptist was just forty-five minutes across town if needed. As the sending church, First Baptist would stand with Morningside until it could survive on its own.
He wondered how Michael’s game had gone. The Rams were definitely a long shot, but that didn’t matter. The whole town seemed to come alive with the excitement of a potential championship. Church attendance had risen over the past six months. Maybe the congregation was looking for a little divine intervention. Usually, sporting events drove people away from church. If the good people of Ozark Falls were crowding their churches to pray for their Rams, who was he to complain.
It was almost time to begin the services. David took to the pulpit and welcomed his guests to the house of God. The instant he took his place behind God’s word, his whole spirit came alive. Like all the Knight men, he stood well over six feet and was only slightly trimmer than Jeremiah. He had dark, wavy hair and a tender face. His wife Tara stared at him. She had known him her entire life, but she’d never grown tired of hearing him speak.
David surveyed the audience. His earlier thoughts were right. It was a strong crowd for a Saturday evening, especially with the game, probably still wrapping up just three hundred yards away. At the rate the Lord was adding people to his little church, in six months he would need a youth pastor.
The local teens were responding to his outreach efforts. He was only twenty-seven years old, and still able to connect on their level. If the church continued to grow within that age group, he would need help soon.
Tonight he intended to preach about God’s timing. Who knew this subject better than him? He was convinced that God had called him to be a bridge of grace and truth to his generation. It was no coincidence that he was appointed pastor over Morningside. He was a living example of his sermon.
Michael would graduate from Ozark within six months, just in time to take the youth pastor position. He could take additional classes at the Bible Institute started by Jeremiah at First Baptist, as David had done, and help him build Morningside into what God wanted. Many responding to his message were from Michael’s age group and younger.
Michael was a popular scholar-athlete and committed Christian. He had followed David’s footsteps as president of the Christian Students Union for a couple years. Many kids instinctively looked up to and followed him. David had no doubt about his potential impact as a youth pastor.
Eventually, he would spin-off Michael and Abby (they would certainly soon marry) into their own church, as Jeremiah had spun him. Within the next ten years, he felt that the Knights would literally lead thousands to the Lord. Their sons would do the same in their generation.
The thought gave him a chill. He knew that Jeremiah was also excited. He and David had seen all of the ministry gifts in Michael, but he had been silent about his future plans. They were waiting for the end of football season to sit him down and share the vision.
David glanced at his notes and released a silent prayer. He turned to the third chapter and first verse of the book of Ecclesiastes. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven,” he said.