FIRST CONGREGATIONAL METHODIST CHURCH ELKHART
By Greg Ritchie
This is a series of reports the Messenger will be doing each Sunday about local pastors in our area. To see the full interview, check out the video at the end of this article. The Messenger would like to thank Cutshaw Chevrolet in Grapeland for sponsoring this week’s edition.
David Franklin has been the pastor of the First Congregational Methodist Church in Elkhart since 2000. He is also the Precinct 1 Constable for Anderson County.
When did you first feel a calling to be a preacher?
“I went to work in Dallas as a police officer and worked there for almost 38 years. While there I taught a Sunday school class and heard there was some kind of Bible school in Fort Worth and we thought we would maybe take some classes to become better Sunday school teachers. It was a seminary – I didn’t know at the time – the world’s largest. I didn’t really know what a seminary was. I knew it had something to do with teacher preachers. Walking across campus, I got an overpowering sense of God saying, ‘It’s about time you showed up here.’ And I had no clue what that was for. They told us that in order to study there, we had to commit to go into the ministry full time. And I felt like a ton of bricks hit me. For years people told me they thought I would make a good preacher. But I never felt that. Until right then. I never had a feeling like that before or since. I wish I could have another experience like that. I guess God knew I needed that, because without something plain and obvious I would never consider it.”
Does being a preacher make you a better law enforcement officer or vice-versa?
“I feel that good police officers – the ones that should be police officers – are also called by God. I think God wants us to do something specifically with our lives. What that is, you have to find out. Mine was being a police officer. If you’re a Christian, and you’re not doing something immoral, illegal, or unethical – it shouldn’t matter what kind of work you’re doing. You should be the same. A Christian police officer should be the same as a Christian minister or a Christian medical doctor, Christian attorney, or Christian school teacher. We see it differently because it’s a rough and tough job.”
What is the hardest part of being a preacher?
“The time away from family, because it is demanding on your time. God has to be first, but family needs to be number two. Your church should be number three. Paul says in the New Testament, ‘even an infidel takes care of his family.’ That’s the biggest problem I have seen with some preachers. It can be Christmas Eve, and the preacher is off ministering – and his family is by themselves. That’s a danger and you have to be careful of that balance.”
What does God want from each of us?
“Worship. You can translate that into service. That’s kind of another word for worship, but I believe we were created to worship God. When you do surveys of people in high school or college – ‘What’s your greatest desire?’ And they will respond with something to the effect of, ‘to have a purpose in life. What’s the purpose of this? I need to know there is something more’ – and the answer is God. I believe God created us with what is called a divine spark. There’s a hole in us that is only filled by God. Once we actually try to start worshipping and serving Him – that’s the only time I think you are ever going to be happy.”
What can churches do to get more young people involved in the church?
“I think it’s the same answer for the old people. And for the middle-aged people. And for the babies. To have a God-centered, Bible-believing worship. This church is a very traditional church. So we sing songs that are 100 years old. We don’t sing choruses that are very popular. And that’s fine; we have different personalities. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. We must be God-focused, and I don’t think anything else is going to bring them back. I grew up in a tiny church. Any given Sunday we might get 25 or 30 people. Most of the kids were my cousins. But some of the best times of my life were growing up in that church. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know we were supposed to have anything special. We just loved going to church and we loved one another.”
What does this community mean to you?
“Without being dramatic – it’s everything. It’s my life. It’s my heritage. It’s home. You can only have one home. Especially in rural areas they always ask you where you are from. You can be there 30 years and never be from there. I’m from here. So this is home. So I thank God for bringing me back to south Anderson County. I know I am prejudiced – but I think it’s the best place in the world.”
First Congregational Methodist Church of Elkhart meets each Sunday at 11 a.m. 510 Highway 287/TX 19, Elkhart
Greg Ritchie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org