Back to Waco

Back to WacoI spent the first Tuesday of every month in 2008 with Jim Martin, a long-time family friend and the preacher at the Crestview Church of Christ in Waco. Jim had put together a mentoring group of nine preachers and an elder, all from the Waco area. And he had asked me to join.

I came to crave those Tuesdays. I needed them.

For the most part, people I know say, “Good sermon,” and they mean, “You didn’t offend me.” They ask, “How are things going?” and they mean, “How are things going at church?” They say, “Let’s get together,” and they mean, “Let’s talk about a program or a ministry issue.”

That’s a broad generalization, I know. Please understand that I love these people. All of them. And I’m thrilled to have these beautiful, God-ordained, holy relationships. I’m blessed.

But, once a month, it was nice for my good friend Jim to look me square in the eyes and ask me, “How are YOU doing?” Not your ministry, not your church, not your sermons, not your programs. You. How are you doing? How are you and Carrie-Anne doing? Tell me something that excites you right now about God. What part of you, Allan, needs work? What can I specifically pray about for you? How are your kids?

It was also refreshing to hear my brothers call me to accountability. They were not afraid to challenge my view of a particular topic or my stand on a current situation. They were not embarrassed to ask me if maybe my pride or my ego were affecting my thinking. They didn’t mind showing me something from a different angle that maybe I hadn’t considered.

The best part for me was knowing that I could really be myself. I could be totally open and honest and 1) know that everybody in the room completely understood and 2) they weren’t going to judge me or tell on me. They know. All these preachers know. They know the heartache and the joy, they know the burden and the responsibility and the blessing of being one of God’s preachers. I trusted them. Still do.

For one day a month, it was sanctuary.

Jim puts together a new group every year. Seven or eight new faces. Only two or three holdovers. I didn’t participate last year. And I missed it. I missed the focus it gave me. I missed the camaraderie and the worship and the study and meditation. I missed hearing all the good things our God is doing in other faith communities. I missed encouraging other preachers and being encouraged by those same preachers. This year, I’m in.

Twelve Tuesdays. And it starts today.

The renegade elder, Ray Vannoy, is in. I’ve never met a shepherd quite like him. He’s so well read, so current with what’s happening in the Kingdom, so encouraging to preachers, so open with his own criticisms of church and church leadership. So over-the-top gentle and generous and humble. My good friend Charlie Johanson from the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin is in. Charlie and I probably took 40 of our 48 hours at Austin Grad together. He was always one step ahead of me. Always pointing me to the bigger picture. A perfect picture of what hungering and thirsting for righteousness looks like. And then there’s Jim. His soft voice and mild mannerisms don’t quite cover up a fiery passion for our Lord that’s obviously boiling inside him. He’s so deliberate. So insightful. So empowering. He sees good in everything and everybody. He is a man of God beyond reproach.

And I want to be just like him. And Charlie. And Ray. I pray that being with them will cause some of their character to rub off on me.


AerosmithI’m disturbed today to read that Joe Perry and the rest of Aerosmith are actually auditioning lead singers to tour with the band and cut a new album while front man Steven Tyler recovers from his rehab. You can read the story here. Reportedly, Lenny Kravitz and Billy Idol are among those being considered.

All indications are that Tyler’s relapse into the drugs that derailed the group in the late 70s was his first setback since they all went cold turkey back in ’85. This doesn’t make sense. Give him a break.

I know Tyler and Perry split this band up once. Ego and drugs and pride Tyler & Perry in Dallas last summerand philosophies and all kinds of things were to blame then. But to actually use another lead singer while Tyler is recovering seems crazy. And mean. You know, David Lee Roth and Van Halen had only been together eight years when they went their separate ways. Aerosmith’s been this exact same band for four decades! It would be like The Who touring with Bryan Adams as their lead singer or The Rolling Stones cutting an album with Peter Frampton on lead vocals.

If they do this, they can’t call it Aerosmith.

Joe Perry plays a mean guitar. But he already tried the Joe Perry Project on his own. Yuk. Steven Tyler IS Aerosmith! He’s the face (and the lips!) of the whole Aerosmith franchise.

A moment of silence, please. Somebody hum “Dream On.”




  1. Charlie

    Thanks Allan for your kind words…and for putting that picture up for all to see. Julie told me when she took it that I would pay for that one day. I hate it when she is right! Great to see you again. Look forward to the next meeting.


  2. Cynthia Agnell

    Things have been particularly busy the past few months and I’ve not kept up with all that is happening in your life and your work. But everytime I work on Sermon Seminar I look forward to seeing Charlie and you. I wish everyone knew how life-changing a couple of years at Austin Grad can be. Oh yeah, I guess it is my job to tell them. See you in May.


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