The Author

150 Years

I was interviewed this week by someone who is working on an oral history project for the city of Farmers Branch. The interviewer was most interested in hearing about the earliest days of the church in this area, the church’s founding, and those folks who were a part of that beginning.

Like anyone else, I was dependent upon what I had heard and read through the years. I also had to use my imagination, thinking about what it was like when there were no churches, no office buildings, no apartments, no freeways – just farmland and farmers trying to make a living in this black clay soil. It was fun to think about how different life was as they faced challenges on what was then the frontier of Texas.

One of the questions that the interviewer asked me was how a church survives in one place for 150 years. I wished that she had given me a list of questions to think about beforehand, and this was one of them. I was as honest as I know to be. The truth is, no church lasts in the same place for 150 years. People come and go. Cultures and environments change. What once was a farming community church becomes a small town church becomes a growing church in a growing community and then a smaller church in a rapidly changing metropolitan area. Go back to count and you will find that I have just described four churches. Not one church but four (and I am sure that number is too small) over the span of almost 150 years.

However, even with all the change culturally and institutionally, we have much in common with not only that first church, but every one since. Two factors have remained the same. The first is that people made in the image of God have faced the challenges of life while trying to understand how God is at work in their lives. If I may put it plainly, people have always worked, loved, reared families, and died while living in the shadow of God’s grace. The second is this: what remains – survives – is the reality that is the family of God. No matter the change, whether in institution, environment, or culture, that family thread remains. We are connected by faith through the grace of God with all those who have gone before.

How does a church last 150 years? If you mean the same institution in the same place, the answer is: It doesn’t. What lasts is family - the family of God. That lasts for eternity.