The early years

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.

9 thoughts on “The early years”

  1. I was brought up in a church that was not really heavenly on a Sunday and as I’ve grown up, I’ve realised the board was more interested in themselves than what God would want.

    It’s nice to know not all churches are like this, and not all pastors are in it for themselves. 🙂

  2. I have realised that any church that is half healthy, is doing well! There are so many forces, both human and otherwise against us. Which does not mean I promote a ‘fortress’ mentality, far from it. But we do need to realise ministry can be difficult.
    Most pastors I know are not in it for any other than good reasons. Its too hard a job to do for selfish reasons.
    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Cant wait to read the rest of this story…
    My [small] experience in lay church leadership has come at great personal cost and exposed a side of church I never really understood or saw previously, let’s call it the ‘Wednesday Night Syndrome’ and all its many faces- agendas, competition, anger, misunderstanding, ridicule and a deep neglect of the Holy Spirit in the workings of the church…
    But, even on my lowest days since then I keep a deep reminder that this is still Christ’s Bride…a beloved, precious and greatly valuable bride….and that is encouraging me to be prepared to ‘drop down my nets’ into ministry again one day!
    thanks for you fresh honesty Mark!

  4. The next bit is up ‘Fishing’.
    Jesus loves the Church, and so do I!
    For it to be what it can be, the most powerful agent for real change in our culture, society and communities…there is a need for persevering, praying, purposeful and loving leadership.
    Loving leadership does not mean you try to please the people in the church, rather it means you try to please God.
    Personally I believe in grace…and allowing different churches with different personalities freedom to worship as God has made and purposed them.

  5. Hi Mark,
    Do you know what happened to Mark (Randall) recently? I’ve been trying to get in touch with him for about a year now.
    I appreciate you sharing this. The Bride of Christ is a precious thing; let us never loose sight of Who It Is that makes us so!

  6. Hi Tokyo….no I am sorry I don’t. I caught up with him last year when we were both holidaying, but he has shut down his blog. Hopefully all is well with him.

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