Sunday, November 9, 2008

By Christmas & the New Year

The last Saturday before Christmas we had a musician from Columbus named Alan Jones. Our Jesus House Christmas Celebration included special refreshments (banana & pumpkin bread) and a special a cappella performance of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (musical version) by Alan and a high school friend who came with him. Alan was too young to drive so a friend and I drove to Columbus that morning and picked up Alan and his friend. On Sunday, another friend and I drove them back. We were a full service ministry. If you didn't have transpotation and you were a musician we really wanted, we found a way to get you there!

By Christmas, Grant & Jane Ann Hammond decided they wanted to leave the Jesus House staff. The style of ministry was not right for them. As they moved out, I moved back in and awaited their replacement. A few weeks into January, Stan and Linda Carter moved in and immediately became an important part of the ministry. Stan and Linda would live there for four years. Linda worked for a large insurance company in downtown Cincinnati while Stan and I attended school.

One of the important attributes Stan brought to the ministry was strong leadership, a willingness to be directive about the ministry and make decisions on faith that God would provide. I learned a lot about leadership from Stan and his father, Ralph Carter, a seasoned pastor. Stan had an ability to rally people and did a great job of that with high school students. Through Stan’s leadership we started the Jesus House Summer Bible Institute. Many youth ministries in church slow down in the summer. Stan decided he wanted us to be even more active and take advantage of people being out of school.

The Jesus House Summer Bible Institute was an opportunity for us to teach topics or sections of the Bible at a deeper level than we could on Saturday night. It gave people at the House an opportunity to study important issues. We ran the Bible Institute for many years and included classes on Hermaneutics, Personal Evangelism, Psalms, Hebrews, and many other books of the Bible. For me this was a forrunner of much of the teaching I did years later in churches.

With Stan's strong leadership the Jesus House was preparing for the numerical explosion that was about to happen and continue for many years. It was also because of his leadership that we were able to add additional staff. He was a leader who could lead and manage a staff that was not easy to lead or manage!

Quite often, when a church or ministry does not experience numerical growth the cause can be traced to a lack of strong leadership.

Stan & Linda were a lot of fun. Our first year together we shared meals (mostly provided by them) and learned a lot about our different backgrounds. They also introduced me to the incredible taste of cheesecake!

The sacrifice and dedication of Stan and Linda to help the ministry flourish can never be fully described.

This Week in History: Musicians who performed at the Jesus House the second saturday of November.

1971 - Dave Ooten
1972 - Kent Odor (He had just joined staff!)
1973 - Larry Pennington
1974 - Mary Ann (Must have been poplular. No last name)
1975 - Randy Moody (aka Moods)
1976 - Corban Weekend: Grant Edwards spoke; Jon Owens sang.
1977 - Deny Brigance
1978 - Greg Vernon (All the way from Beverly Hills, California!)
1979 - Caroline Randall
1980 - Chuck Pickers
1981 - John Gould
1982 - Lighthouse
1983 - D. J. Speers

Wait a minute! Hold on! I saw something on there called Corban Weekend. What in the world was that? I don't remember anything called Corban Weekend! Well, we only did it once. Corban Weekend was our attempt at doing a fund raising weekend to get people to pledge to the Jesus House. We found the term in Mark 7:11. Corban means, "a gift devoted to God." We even had a great comic strip promotion created by Loyd Boldman. If you remember anything about the Jesus House, all our special programs had to be "something" weekend. So we had Muster Weekend, Conglomerate Weekend, Rishing Hope Weekend, Eat-As-Much-Food-As-You-Can Weekend and Corban Weekend. Actually we never had Eat-As-Much-Food-As-You-Can Weekend, I just wanted to see if you are paying attention. So, we had Corban Weekend with Grant Edwards as a speaker and Jon Owens as our musical guest. They were from the One Way House in Springfield the ministry with whom we shared Conglomerate Weekend. That ministry had a Faith-Promise weekend every year and used me as a special guest so they returned the favor. We received a lot of good pledges to the ministry but 90% of the people who pledged never gave any money so we decided not to repeat the event. Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't!

Where Are They Now
Stan and Linda are no longer married to each other but both still live in the Cincinnati area, both attend Highview Christian Church and help with the worship team. Stan also runs sound for the church. In addition, Stan owns Carters Music in North College Hill. Stop by and visit Stan and his cat Belmont or visit their web site,
Stan is one of the few music retailers in Cincinnati who handles Everly Strings, the best acoustic guitar strings on the market. At least according to Terry Fisher, little-known acoustic guitar player.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The First Autumn

After a summer of constant activity with new people every week and continual requests for baptisms, the fall seemed very slow. Attendance at the weekly concerts had dropped significantly. It was very rare to have students dropping by during the week. Grant started a weekly Bible study but very few people participated.

Even with the small attendance at the concerts, (usually 40-50) there was a loyal crowd which included a steady group of people from Norwood who were part of a Lutheran Church. Whitey and Jo brought the youth group which included their two daughters. The entire family was a weekly source of encouragement.

I was pretty occupied with school, working an evening job at a fast-food restaurant and keeping my hair short (Remember dress codes? I had it at both school and work!). Since I was living with a family in the neighborhood, I was not around the Jesus House very much during the week. Usually I showed up early on Saturday evening to meet the artist for the evening and set up our sound system. Most of the time the sound system was two microphones plugged into a Fender Twin Reverb amp. We thought we were high tech whenever an artist showed up with a Sure Vocal Master system!

A significant event occured that fall which would have a profound impact on the Jesus House and teach me a valuable lesson about how a ministry or church grows.
One Sunday afternoon in September I attended a youth concert at a Christian Church in Finneytown. At the conclusion of the concert, the youth minister, Gary Boys, asked if anyone had any announcements. I stood up at the back of the auditorium and invited everyone to visit the Jesus House for one of our Saturday night concerts. The following week a high school senior from Forest Park High School named Cindy showed up with a friend. From that night, Cindy showed up on Saturday nights every week. I soon noticed that she always had a car load of people from her school. After a month or so I noticed two car loads, then three. I asked Cindy what she was doing to bring so many people from her high school. It was then she explained her weekly activity. Everyday, during school, usually between classes, she invited people to come with her to the Jesus House. She invited people who were friends and people she didn't know. Cindy began a movement. Soon, others who visited and liked the Jesus House began copying her. The enthusiasm spread to Greenhills and Princeton High Schools. Attendance at the House began to increase. By spring we were having crowds of 100-150. 50% was usually from Forest Park & Greenhills. The impact of Cindy's efforts continued for several years. Many, many of those students became Christians. I'm still in touch with some of those students, one of whom was Christopher Adams, who soon took on a very significant role at the Jesus House and in my life. More on him later!

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the First Weekend of November

1971 - Suni McGrath (The first performer other than Randy Matthews to have a record on a major label!)
1972 - Restoration
1973 - Grant Hammond
1974 - Deny Brigance (Perhaps his first?)
1975 - Sharon Wilson & Tony Ross
1976 - adamsfishyodor (The first afo reunion tour)
1977 - Jim Bankowski
1978 - Michelle Klaas (music), Rod Ellis (Dramatic performance of the Apostle John)
1979 - Lisa Allen & Barb Schock
1980 - Rob Rodebush
1981 - Forerunner
1982 - Coco Rock
1983 - Don Dickey

Where Are They Now?
Most of the people I reference in this blog are mentioned with first names only. This is because I have not asked for permission to tell their stories. The musicians and staff are different because we used to regularly advertise their names.
Of the people mentioned in this installment, Cindy is married with children and has a very successful business with her husband. They still live in the Cincinnati area. I have not had contact with Whitey & Jo but met a grand daughter at a memorial service some years ago.

If anyone I mention wants to leave a comment to let us know about your life those details are very welcome.

For the first months of the ministry, I've moved pretty slow through the chronology. This will not always be the case. I have fourteen years to cover during the next six months. I will discontinue this blog the first of May, 2009 when we have our next, and final, reunion. The final post will include a list of artists who performed during the summer months.

You might have noticed that I am a little behind in my posts. This is due to a crazy work and travel schedule. I hope to catch up this weekend.