The Bible way: Spencer Strickland has come to love his congregation in short time

Sunday, May 30, 2010
Spencer Strickland is the preacher at the Church of Christ in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Spencer Strickland came to Cape Girardeau to preach at the Cape Church of Christ less than a year ago, and he has already come to love his congregation. Strickland said he and his wife, Amy, have been impressed with the congregation's dedication to follow God's word. "I'm not just saying that, I wholeheartedly mean it," he said. "The church's desire has always been to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. It has been the church's desire to call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways because the Bible says we are not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). It's wonderful to know that this desire is expressed among the members of the church in Cape."

What is your official title and church: I preach for the Church of Christ in Cape Girardeau. With regard to official title, I find it interesting to talk to people about that, and they may be surprised to know that I do not have an official title simply because preachers in the Bible did not have official titles. Sometimes folks have wanted to call me reverend, but the only time that word appears in the Bible is in Psalms 111:9 and there it is in reference to God and God's name being reverenced. Also, sometimes folks try to call me pastor, but in the New Testament pastors (Eph. 4:11) are another name for men who are elders or bishops in the church and those men must meet certain qualifications that are spelled out in 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-9. The word pastor means to shepherd as in shepherding a flock and in Acts 20, the elders in the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) are told to pastor or shepherd/feed the church (Acts 20:28). So, suffice it to say, I'm merely a preacher of the word like Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2).

How long have you been involved with a church? I was born in Texas and my mother started bringing me to services while I was still a baby. So in that sense I've been involved all of my life.

How long have you been a member of the faith? That should be an easy question to answer, but it is not. When I was 8 years old, I expressed interest in obeying the Lord's commands to be saved (Mark 16:16). I wanted to be baptized and so I was, but years later I began to question whether I understood what I was doing at that age. Several years ago, I asked my best friend to baptize me for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) knowing that in order to be saved, one must be baptized for the right reason. So, to answer the question, I was biblically added to the church (Acts 2:47) when I obeyed the gospel around six or seven years ago.

What drew you to serve the church in a leadership role? At one point in his life, my best friend was interested in visiting the East Tennessee School of Preaching in Knoxville, Tenn. We both lived in Berea, Ky., at the time, and I really was not thinking about becoming a preacher. The preacher where we attended church encouraged my friend to visit the school of preaching. ... When I learned that my best friend and the preacher were making a trip to the school, I decided to come along as well. When I got there, I was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the students. Some of them had left well-paying jobs in order to preach the gospel. So, it was then and there that I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

What education/background/studies did you go through to become a preacher? I spent two years of intense study of the Bible at East Tennessee School of Preaching. After that, I went to Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., where I obtained my bachelor's of science degree in Bible. Afterward, I went on to get my master's of arts degree in New Testament at the same institution.

How many years have you served as a preacher? While I was going to school, I preached part time at several congregations. However, upon completion of my master's degree, I began preaching full time in a congregation in Dillon, S.C. I preached there for four years before moving to Cape Girardeau. I've been preaching in Cape Girardeau for about six and a half months. So, counting the time I was preaching part time, I've preaching for about 12 years. Full time, I've been preaching four and a half years.

When did you become the preacher for the Church of Christ? I started preaching in Cape Girardeau in the early part of November.

Were you involved with the Church of Christ before becoming a preacher? Yes, I helped out with church camp during the summers in Kentucky and gave devotional talks in various settings.

What's your favorite verse and why? It's hard to narrow it down to just one favorite but in the Old Testament, my favorite verses are Isaiah 26:3-4 because they remind us that perfect peace is found only in God, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." (KJV) One among my many favorites in the New Testament would probably be 2 Peter 3:9 because in a simple way it expresses God's desire to save folks, but it also indicates that we must be willing to do what is necessary in order to receive salvation, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (KJV)

What program have you done with Church of Christ that you are proud of and why? Again, I've only been here in Cape for about six and a half months, so I'm still in an adjustment period, but last month we had a Bible seminar in which I was very happy to take part.

What events or occasions does your church have coming up? Some of our members will be involved in Bootheel Youth Camp, which is a church camp that runs from June 4 to July 24 and has various weeks set aside children in grades K-12. On July 31, we will be having an ice cream social at the building at 3 p.m. In the fall, we usually have a "Welcome Back Picnic" for any college students that will be attending services with us while they are enrolled in school. Sept. 24 and 25, our ladies of the congregation will be having a ladies retreat. Then, in April 2011 there are plans to have a "Cape to Cape" mission trip where several of our members will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa, to do mission work.

What's your favorite day of the week and why? I would think that a preacher's favorite day of the week would be Sunday or the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) since it is described as the Lord's Day in the Bible (Revelation 1:10). This is truly the best day of the week since I get to come together with my brothers and sisters in Christ and worship God with the right attitude and in truth just as the church did in the New Testament (John 4:24).

What's your favorite part of being a preacher? Preaching the gospel and helping folks learn what they need to do to prepare themselves for eternity.

What hobbies do you have? I like to fish, read and collect record albums or LPs.

What else do you do besides serve as preacher? I try to be a good Christian and a good husband to my wife.

Do you have a prayer, psalm or verse you would like to give our readers for the day? Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

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