Sunday, June 26, 2005


Long Live The Rural Church

UNITED METHODIST RURAL FELLOWSHIP OFFICERS for North Texas Conference churches met at Annual Conference recently in Wichita Falls: (Back Row) Revs. Duncan Graham, Bob Walker, Charles Cox and Tommy Brumett. (Front Row) Judy Gilreath, Ilona O'Brien and Rev. Virgie Holbrook. Today at Tinney Chapel UMC, Pastor Duncan Graham's sermon outlined his broad vision for rural churches that can both survive and thrive in today's changing culture and agriculture. Photo by Joe Dan Boyd.


Pastor: Rev. Duncan Graham

Greeter: Bob Deitering.

Sound: Bob Deitering

Ushers: George Jordan & Bob Deitering.


Song leader: Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham.

Piano: Pat Hollingsworth.


Trust And Obey, Sweet Hour Of Prayer, Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.

Call to Worship & Opening Prayer

Morning Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:


Offertory Prayer


Gloria Patri

Apostles Creed


The Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham, read for his Scripture, Matthew 10:40-42:

10:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

10:41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." ---New King James Translation

After reading the Scripture, Pastor Graham asked how many of you have a mat in front of the door to your house? “Just about everybody,” he noted, then asked: “What’s that mat there for? Two things: The first is to wipe your feet off and keep from tracking dirt into the house. Cuts down on sweeping, vacuuming and those kinds of things. The second thing is to welcome people.

“In fact, we did have a mat, until we wore it out, that had welcome written in it,” added Pastor Graham. “And, you frequently see those. The whole idea is that we need to welcome people always into our homes and the church as well. Maybe three years ago, the Stantons, David and Mollie, and Elaine and I went to an Igniting Ministry workshop in Dallas at Lovers Lane UMC. One of the things that David picked up there was a mat, an Igniting Ministry mat, to put in front of your church door to welcome people, the newcomers, and was especially directed toward them. We had it out for a while. I really don’t know whatever became of it.

“The whole idea, again, of Igniting Ministries, is that we try to be a welcoming church to all kinds of people,” explained the Pastor. “The thing about all this is that even a child can welcome people and make them feel at home. And, what Jesus is trying to say to us is that we always need to be welcoming. What does Hebrews, Chapter 13, tell us? That we may entertain angels without being fully aware of it?

“In a welcoming church, they will not be judged by the clothes they wear or the way they may look,” he added. “But that they will be welcome in the House of the Lord anytime they want to come. And so, the whole point of today’s little lesson is for us to always be constantly aware that we welcome people, whoever they are, wherever they are, into our midst. Let’s pray:

“Oh, gracious Lord, help us always to be a welcoming church. Help us always to entertain strangers, Lord, not because we think they may be angels, but just because they are strangers in our midst who need to belong. Oh, gracious Lord, teach us ways to be truly welcoming people. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”


Tinney Chapel UMC Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham, continued his discussion from last week, of the recent Annual Conference and the manner in which it was enhanced by Bishop Rhymes Moncure’s many spiritual contributions, from beginning to end: “Preach the gospel and love the people, the Bishop said, over and over again,” recalled Pastor Graham. “The motto of the entire United Methodist Church is, essentially: Go and make disciples. And we heard that theme over and over again.

“If you pick up your copies of the Conference papers, you are going to see that message repeated time and time again,” he added. “Go and make disciples. This is kind of the watchword that’s coming forth in the United Methodist Church. Somebody once said the church has to get out of the Book of Numbers and into the Book of Acts. But, once you get into the Book of Acts, you find yourself right back in Numbers.

“Because, once you get into the acts of God and the numbers begin to swell, people begin to hear that God is doing something over there, and they want to see for themselves,” added Pastor Graham. “What in the world God is doing? Last week, I was doing some of my TV channel surfing, and I ran across the 700 Club. They were talking about a great revival that was going on in an African country. They were talking about Mozambique.

“If Mozambique can have a revival, anybody can have a revival,” declared the Pastor. “Mozambique has been, historically, very predominantly a Muslim country: Islamic. And yet, here they are, seeing Muslims, by the hundreds, converted to Christianity. The first thing that strikes your mind is this: Why? What in the world is happening over there? And when you really get to watching the program, and these video clips, the testimonies they give, what has happened is there is an American couple who has been over there 10 years.

“They had labored in Mozambique for 10 years, and had begun, at some point, taking in orphans off the street, into their home and taking care of them. There is that welcoming aspect again, making them a part of this family, literally raising these children. They had intended, in the beginning, to have only maybe a half dozen or so children they would take in. But the need was so big, and the children on the street, hearing about this family, began coming to them!

“And the first thing you know, they were in an orphanage that houses, I don’t know, tens of dozens of orphans perhaps, I don’t know the actual number,” added Pastor Graham. “But, a great number of orphans. And that’s the way they started, but after about ten years, God began to move. God began to move! The problem with us is we pray for five minutes and we may keep it up for six months, or maybe at best a year, and if God hasn’t moved, we give up. We move on to other things.

“Those people kept at it!” emphasized Pastor Graham. “God began to move after ten years, and suddenly the things you read about in the New Testament began happening today. And that is to say the blind began to receive sight. They showed, on one video clip, a woman in Mozambique, a woman who began to speak for the first time. She had been deaf and dumb all her life, and she suddenly started to speak right there on their video. One native man began to give testimony about a little girl that he had been asked to pray for who was dead! And she came back to life.

“He said that he had prayed, but didn’t really expect anything, but she came to life,” added the Pastor. “And the result of all that was that people got converted to Jesus Christ. I’m relating all this to tell you that, indeed, there is revival going on all over the world today. People are hearing the Gospel and believing. They are believing it because they are seeing it in action. In the care and the welcoming of the orphans. In the love that is freely given. In the help that is being poured out wherever it is needed.

“And then God begins to move, because He finds faithful people,” said Pastor Graham. “I told you last week that three things are needed for the church to be alive and to grow in rural areas today. There must be spiritual growth. There must be numerical growth. There must be financial growth. I suppose today I am focusing a little more on numerical growth, but you can’t have numerical growth without spiritual growth. That must come first. That’s the first priority.

“When I look at Methodist history and Christian history in this country, the U.S., dating back to the 1700s,” began the Pastor. “A statement was made in one book that every train to the frontier had a Methodist preacher on the cow catcher and a Baptist preacher in the caboose! Through such things this country was evangelized! People were saved by the hundreds. Or maybe the thousands. In brush arbors, camp meetings, all across this nation. Methodism grew by great numbers in those days. They were preaching for the salvation of souls, for the repentance of sin, for people to turn to God and commit themselves to the Lord God: Jesus Christ. The Almighty.

“Make no bones about it, today we read about the Methodist church of the last thirty, forty years, that has lost better than four million members,” declared Pastor Graham. “Think about it: Better than four million members lost by the Methodist church over the last thirty or forty years. It says to us, if we analyze it, that we have become so engrossed with a social gospel that we have forgotten the very fundamental message of the Gospel that got us here in the first place.

“Now, I’m not saying that we ought to scrap the social gospel, by no means,” emphasized the Pastor. “I’m not saying that we should forget the needs of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the helpless. But, we need to focus again on our first priority: saving the souls of people! That is our first call. Save the souls of people. You may remember that, in Revelation chapter two, the first church that Jesus spoke about when He gave the message to John, was the church at Ephesus.

“He applauds Ephesus for some of its practices,” reminded Pastor Graham. “But, then at about verse four, He says, nevertheless, I have this one thing against you: You have left your first love. If you want to know what that first love is, all you have to do is read the next verse: You have stopped doing, I’m kind of paraphrasing here, the works: Now, that is an actual translation. You have stopped doing the works you did at first. The works they did at first were witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were making disciples!

“Now, I read you this Scripture,” said the Pastor. “It’s one you are very familiar with, out of Matthew, chapter 28, beginning in verse 18:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

---New King James Translation

“This is the Divine or Great Commission that Jesus gives His followers,” reminded the Pastor. “It has not changed in two thousand years. It is still the same. If it is, it would seem to me that we, within the rural church of Methodism about which I will speak because I don’t have the place to speak at all for any other denominational group or church. But, in essence, it’s no different for them, or any of us. It’s simply this: We need to be about the business of reaching out to people!

“Reaching out to people, wherever we find them,” declared Pastor Graham. “In order to be assured, first of all, of their salvation, regardless of where they go to church. But, I will say this: Everybody ought to be in church. Why do I say that? Because I’ve never seen anyone maintain their relationship with God, the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit without having a Body of Believers that they associate with, that they draw from and that they give to. It just doesn’t seem to happen without that.

“In fact, I really think a person probably could attempt to practice their religion all by themselves all the days of their life,” suggested the Pastor. “But, I think it would be a very selfish, wrapped-up-in- themselves kind of religion if they were to be successful at that. It would be a cutting off of everyone else from receiving anything that they have. But, again I say, I’ve never really seen anyone who really maintained a close relationship with the Lord without having that Body or that Family of Believers that gave them strength and that received strength from them.

“So, I believe it is extremely important that we always maintain our ties with the Body of Believers,” concluded Pastor Graham. “Now, having said that, the thing we come down to is that it requires that there be individual witnesses always of the Gospel. Now, Jesus said, in the Scripture I read to you from the Children’s Sermon this morning: He who receives you receives Me: Him, Jesus! And, he who receives Me, Jesus says, receives Him who sent Me.

“In other words, the negative implication is that, if you are going in the Name of Jesus, and people refuse to receive you, they are refusing to receive Jesus,” added the Pastor. “And if they refuse to receive Jesus, they are refusing to receive the Father who sent Him. That’s the other side of the coin. So, it is important that people, first, began to go in the Name of Jesus, and, secondly, that they be received in His Name. What we find is the fact that there are countless numbers of people all around the area, this area or any other, living and going about daily routines on a Sunday morning, for example, without ever giving church a thought!

“According to the Barna Report, at least, if you surveyed these same people, asking them if they were believers in God or Jesus Christ, ninety percent of them would say: yes,” explained Pastor Graham. “And if you asked them if it was important in their lives, they would say: Absolutely! But, then, if you asked them: Are you a member of a church? The biggest percentage would answer, yes. But if you pin them down, and ask: Did you go to church last Sunday? The answer would be: No I didn’t go last Sunday. There would be excuses. If you ask about the Sunday before that, the answer would be the same: No.

“The response would be, generally: I don’t go regularly,” added the Pastor. “Then, if you ask just how regularly they do go to church, the answers would be something like: Easter two years ago and such. Folks, those people are UNCHURCHED. They are unchurched! Their name may be on a roll somewhere. They may even get letters or newsletters from a church, regularly. But, they are unchurched. They are really not serving the Lord. Oh me! But it’s true.

“They need somebody to witness to them,” declared Pastor Graham. “They need someone to talk about Jesus. They need someone to renew, perhaps, some kind of commitment that they had made somewhere in their life when they were converted. They need to be reminded of their conversion experience. They need to know how great Jesus the Christ is! Why do I say this? Because their eternal destiny rests upon their relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the most important thing that will ever happen in anyone’s life.

“I’m telling you: You can live in riches and luxury all the days of your existence on this earth, but you are still going to die and you are not going to take it with you,” he added. “I’ve told you this before. I tell you again: I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul. It just doesn’t happen. So what we really need to know, and what the world needs to know, is that we are going to die, every one of us, sooner or later, and when we do, there is a stretch of eternity out there ahead of us that will make this seem like less than a second in distance on this earth.

“It must be important that we not only make the right decisions ourselves, but also that we help others that we know, make the right decisions,” said Pastor Graham. “Be prepared. Be prepared. That's what it’s all about. Now, Jesus also said to the church at Ephesus that you need to repent. If you don’t repent, I’m going to remove your candlestick out of this place. That would indicate that if He removed the candlestick, the glory of God is no longer upon them. The glory has departed. And you can write Ichabod over the doors of that church. It’s serious, folks. It’s really serious. When we leave our first love and are not about the business of winning souls for Jesus Christ.

“There are a lot of people who are never going to want to witness, and I don’t know of anybody who started to witness and was not, at first, scared,” explained Pastor Graham. “Your palms sweat, your mouth turns to cotton, your knees may wobble a little bit. I know because I’ve been there, and experienced it. Just try going out on the parking lot of Brookshires, and handing out tracts and trying to talk to people about their relationship with Jesus Christ. You’ll think: Oh, man, they are going to think I’m a fanatic, and probably chew me out, curse me and everything else. And they might. But, at least they’ve heard.

“But I’m not suggesting that you have to do that,” emphasized the Pastor. “I’d say this: Everyone knows people who are not churched. You may not know whether or not they are churched. If you don’t know, it’s because you have never asked them. Or you have never invited them. Some people who are very active in church talk about it. So, if they talk about it: You know. All you have to do is ask. Or give an invitation through them. Tell them about something going on in your church, and invite them. You don’t have to put a hard sell on it. You don’t have to say: Brother, are you saved? If they are not saved, they are not your brother.

“All you have to say is: Can you come to church with me next Sunday?” declared Pastor Graham. “Recently, I’ve run across two occasions that impressed me. The first one was when Angela Wylie, last Sunday night, was giving testimony and telling about attending a reading workshop for the school system in Longview. She said that when she pulled into the parking lot and got out of her car and was walking up to the workshop, she met another woman who said, Hello, I’m so and so, from Longview ISD, where do you go to church?

“That was her greeting,” he explained. “And, Angela said she heard her say it to a few more people once they got inside. As the conversation developed, she told them where she went to church. Would you say that this lady was pleased to tell people where she went to church? I think so. Would you say that this lady was also interested enough to find out if they went to church and where? I dare say that if she ran across somebody who said they did not go to church, she probably followed up with some kind of invitation or some kind of opportunity to witness to them about how good Jesus is. I was impressed with that.

“And I thought, all you have to do is think a little bit, and perhaps come up with your own approach,” he added. “The idea would be that if they are not in church, you would love to have them come to your church and serve the Lord. The second one was that, one night a couple weeks ago, Elaine and I went to see a couple of our grandchildren perform. When your grandchildren perform, it’s almost a command performance for you to be there. They had been at this dance camp. And working with YWAM, Youth With A Mission. YWAM trains kids very intensively in discipleship, then sends them out to places to practice witnessing to people and winning souls.

“In fact, our two granddaughters are leaving today for a week of training with YWAM at Lindale,” explained Pastor Graham. “After training, one will go with a team to Chicago, where they will be ministering and witnessing to people. The other granddaughter will go to Mexico to live in an orphanage where they will be working and witnessing and having services with people. One granddaughter is involved with FRAITHWAM, which is Artists With A Mission, a dance class with an instructor who incorporates different kinds of dance: hip-hop, tap, ballet, and I don’t know what else. Our grandson got involved in the dance class, too.

“At the beginning or end of each dance they performed, one of the kids would give a testimony,” added the Pastor. “One of them was a little girl about seven years old. What they had done on Sunday morning, just before this Sunday recital: All the groups had gone someplace to perform their dance and then to mingle and mix and witness. The younger groups went to a nursing home in Tyler, and this seven year old child said that she had approached one of the residents of the nursing home, after the dance, and asked: Can I talk to you about Jesus?

“That’s simple enough, isn’t it?” added Pastor Graham. “He said: No. She said: Can I pray with you? He said: No. She smiled and said: OK. And she went over to someone else and began talking to them about Jesus. But, her testimony was that some of the adults with them told her that, after they left, that man who had said no began to smile. And, just a smiling reaction reinforced her that, at least, she knew all of her effort had not been in vain. You think that man didn’t think about that after she left?

“How does a seven year old child have the courage to witness Jesus Christ, when the rural church is so silent?” asked the Pastor, rhetorically. “You know what happened? The Baptists got on the cowcatcher, but instead of moving to the caboose, the Methodists got off the train! And, I have to say that I applaud YWAM for what they are doing with young people. And, you go down to that place and you will literally find young people who are getting converted in their teen-age years who had never had a thing to do with Jesus Christ before. Who have all kinds of problems in their lives, but they come and they have received Jesus Christ, and now do wonderful acts of serving, ministering, witnessing all over the world, literally.

“I’m saying to you, today, folks, that the rural church does not have to die,” declared the Pastor. “It does not have to die. One of the great celebrations at Annual Conference this past year was the fact that we did not close a single church in the North Texas Conference. I suggest to you that it’s a sad day when we celebrate NOT closing a church! What we ought to be able to celebrate is starting new churches or seeing tremendous growth in churches. If you were to scour the countryside around here, you would find there are thousands of people within a five-mile radius of this place who are unchurched.

“The rural church does not have to die,” he re-emphasized.

“But it will if we sit comfortably on our laurels, a nice way of saying on our backsides: Not witnessing or not inviting others to Jesus Christ. We are not experiencing revival in this country like they are in Mozambique. We need to discover why we are not. Because the possibility is there: God desires it. I’m convinced of that. But we have to desire it ourselves. Let’s build the church for the glory of God. For the souls of people. Let’s pray:

“Oh, gracious heavenly Father, our prayer today is that You will cause us to come alive: Come alive to our faith. Come alive to our Lord. Come alive to the work. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”



WISE ONES, Frankie Brewer: Hope in the midst of despair.

LADIES BYKOTA CLASS, Peggy Boyd: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

TINNEY CHAPEL MEN, Bill Knoop: Faith for Earth's Final Hour, by Hal Lindsey.

OVERCOMERS, Jenna Nelson: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

YOUTH, Ronny Ellison: Life Lessons from 1 & 2 Peter, by Max Lucado.

CHILDREN, Linda Hallman: Elijah & Elisha.

REMNANT, Joe Dan Boyd: A Tramp On The Street (Care For The Poor), Proverbs 10-31, a study by Roger Hahn.

The Remnant Righteousness handout is below:


Life Lessons # 272 from studying “Care For The Poor,” in Proverbs 10-31, a study by Roger Hahn.

1. Israel’s sages were very interested in economic issues, wealth and poverty, and the way those issues affected interpersonal relationships.

2. The sages condemn laziness that results in poverty, but they never assume that all who are poor are lazy.

3. Rather, Israel’s sages recognize the many causes of poverty, including oppression by those who should know better.

4. Proverbs reminds us that poor people are still people, the very kind of people—outsiders and underdogs--who have always interested the God of Israel.

5. Thus, how we treat poor people is a critical indication of our awareness of the heart of God.

6. Gloating over the misfortune of the poor is a punishable crime. This denies or mocks their value in the sight of God.

7. To ignore a neighbor in need is a criminal act.

8. God, the Creator, is insulted when we exploit the powerless, but kindness to the poor honors God.

9. Kindness to the poor is actually equated with making a loan to God.

10. Proverbs warns against tampering with boundaries and landmarks, a practice that could hamper or destroy a neighbor’s ability to wrest a living from the land.

11. God smashes the pretensions of the arrogant; He stands with those who have no standing.

TODAY’S DATE: 06-26-05


Sunday School Class

Tinney Chapel UMC

Winnsboro, Texas


First Sunday “Healthy Churches” lesson: Characteristic # 2, God-Exalting Worship (from chapter 3 of Stephen A. Macchia’s Becoming A Healthy Church.

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