And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NASB).

I was reared in a good ole country church called Six Mile Baptist. You have seen churches just like it: gravel driveway and parking lot, white wooden frame building, cemetery out back, and a preacher who uses farming lingo to explain the Bible. Our church was so small that there was no such thing as a “secret sin.” The call to worship each Sunday was: “Y’all come in,” and the benediction was “Y’all come back, y’hear.” I enjoy preaching at churches like this. They have the best carry-in suppers you have ever tasted. Nothing on the table comes out of a can or a box.

You know you belong to a country church when: 1) They have a special fundraiser for a new church septic tank. 2) The discussion about Jesus feeding the 5,000 turns into a debate over whether the two fish were bass or catfish. 3) The choir is known as the OK Chorale. 4) Finding lost sheep is not just a parable. 5) People only lock their cars during the summer—to make sure their neighbors can’t leave them a bag of squash. 6) The entire church directory contains only three last names. 7) People think “rapture” is what you get when you lift something too heavy. 8) The pastor says, “I would like to ask Bubba to close in prayer,” and five men stand up. 9) Opening day of deer season is an official church holiday. 10) People grumble about Noah letting coyotes on the Ark.

At Six Mile Baptist Church we only had one paid staff member, the preacher—and I would hardly call what he got “pay.” Frequently, farmers would bring crop offerings to supplement his salary. I remember one time when a deacon brought him a gunnysack of popcorn kernels. The possibility of a lifetime supply of snack food like this might be the one thing God used to bring me into the ministry.

In our church, one person held many responsibilities. My dad was a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, and a mission group leader; and my mother filled the rest of the jobs in the church. Sometimes, my brother or I played piano for the service, and we always had to clean the church on Saturdays. But what taught me the most was something my church called “parts.” Every Sunday night, each of the youth was assigned a “part”—a section of the lesson we had to study, then stand and teach to our peers.

Churches have come a long way since those days, but along that way, we seem to have lost our “parts.” Maybe one reason our children drop out of church at such an early age today is because they do not have a… part. God bless country churches and PARTS!