by Roger Thomas

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The Church Has a Future (5 of 5)
Series: Anniversary Celebration of Faith
Roger Thomas
Matthew 16:13-18

This church has a past. If we know anything we ought to know that by now. We have just come through a wonderful weekend of celebrating the 125-year history of First Christian Church. For months we have been pulling together the stories, hunting down the old pictures, and recalling bygone names and faces. This church has a past.

It is a glorious past, well worth remembering. In 1879 thirty-two Bible loving people, that's how the early records describe them, decided to start a church that would be free to just preach Christ. They worked. They sacrificed. They remained faithful through those early years without a church building or a fulltime preacher. Eventually with their own hands they built a church house in the very center of Vandalia. The church multiplied, prospered and out grew their church building. In 1924, they tore down their beloved house of worship, met in a theater and then the church basement, and erected what many at the time considered one of the finest church facilities in northeast Missouri. They continued to grow and prosper.

But the depression and WWII years were hard on the church. By the late forties, the congregation was a shell of its former self. But in 1949, the church turned a corner. They resisted the temptation to be just another declining traditional congregation like so many around them. John Hall led them through the fifties and into a period of growth and renewal that would continue unabated for thirty years. Numbers increased. More facilities were added. Faith and zeal for God flourished again.

Harder times came again in the eighties and nineties. Industries left town, stores closed, and the town's population dwindled. It is hard for a church to maintain much less grow in a declining community. Similar churches in similar situations sometimes wither away until there is hardly anything left. ...

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