Although I was raised in a Christian home, and went forward at a Bill Newman Crusade at age 15, I don’t place my conversion till I was almost 19.
I was certainly moving in the wrong circles, lots of drinking, gambling and hanging with people who took drugs.
I don’t necesarily want to go into all the details here, but suffice to say I was up to things I would not want my kids to do.
After I became a Christian I moved to Albany to get away from that scene and started attending Albany Church of Christ. Here I met Pastor Mark Randall. He was an inspiring preacher, and a great guy too with a keen sense of humour. The Church there, from what I saw at the time, was a great church, a growing church. Sunday Night services were packed as young people from the greater Albany area came to enjoy freedom and worship. Mark preached inspiring messages and from that time many young people were baptised and had their faith formed. I was one of them. It was Mark who inspired me to become a pastor, and who also inadvertently taught me some life principles. I went off to Bible College in Adelaide, and while over there I heard some disturbing news. Mark had fallen in a moral sense.
Many years after the event I asked Mark what the church was actually like, rather than just what my perception of it. He shared with me that it was a tough place for a young Pastor. For a long time people had been trying to shape him into their own image, instead of perhaps what God wanted him to be. Its only now that I realise how young he was at the time! Unfortunately Albany Church of Christ had a fairly dysfunctional board at the time (in my opinion). While Mark was able to lead in some areas, in others he was seriously hamstrung. There was also a lot of obstacles, despite the growth and vitality of the church.
Lots of things were tucked away in my mind that would prepare and shape my own ministry life.
Passionate and stirring preaching
Free and emotive worship
The need to keep ones relationships pure, otherwise ministry will be taken from you
Churches can be two faced. While they can be heavenly on a Sunday, at a Wednesday Board meeting the atmosphere can be quite different.