A ‘Little Flock’ is becoming a big deal
Dying rural church sees exciting growth
By Allen Palmeri
October 4, 2005
VIENNA– When Bryan Ward showed up one morning to fill the pulpit at Little Flock Baptist Church outside of Vienna, he was surprised to see that no one was there for Sunday School.
After about 15 or 20 minutes, a deacon and his wife came by to tell Ward and his wife, Angela, that it had been that way for about a month. They proceeded to give the Wards a tour of the sanctuary.
“We came back out and there were two more people there,” Bryan Ward said. “I said, ‘Well, that’s enough to have Sunday School. Let’s have Sunday School for the next 20 minutes.’”
It was January 2004, and there were 12 in worship that day. A month later, Ward accepted a call to be their pastor, and now the church averages 50-60 every Sunday. One blessed day in September, Little Flock ran 73.
Ward, 31, is one of the many vertebrae that make up the backbone of the Missouri Baptist Convention. In other words, he is a bi-vocational pastor. Ward, who lays carpet for a living, is a small business owner with three employees. He sometimes works 70-80 hours a week in the summer. He works hard as a shepherd, too, as evidenced by the 27 folks he has baptized in his very first pastorate.
“We were watching a movie one night, and a couple of boys had gotten saved from that situation,” Ward said. “That just kind of started a trend that hasn’t quit. It seems like every two or three weeks, somebody’s getting saved and we’re baptizing them.”
Ward testified about conversions that can only come about when the Lord Jesus Christ draws people unto salvation. One of his favorite real-life stories revolves around the sister of a Little Flock church member who nearly died in the hospital.
“She had been having a heart attack for over two hours, and they called me and said that she was pretty much gone,” Ward said. “They wanted me to come to the hospital to pray. I’d only been pastor for two months, and I was wondering how in the world I was going to preach a funeral for a lost person. I sat with the family for a couple of hours, talking with them, and I said, ‘She has the choice as to whether or not she has ever accepted Christ. We can pray and ask God to give her one more chance to hear the Gospel.’ So at 3 a.m., we prayed that prayer, and a week later I shared the Gospel with her and she got saved.”
Ward became a believer about five years ago. Three years ago, he surrendered to a call to preach. He figured God would turn him loose as an evangelist, but God in His Providence chose to turn him into a pastor.
“I’m young, and I bet I’ve grown just as much spiritually as the church has grown since I’ve been a pastor there,” he said. “Jesus said to be a leader you have to be last. He said He’ll use the weakest, and I believe that I’m very weak.
“I just didn’t figure I had any ability to pastor. I still don’t really feel like I’ve got a whole lot of ability to pastor, but that’s where God’s got me.”
Little Flock is a country church that can comfortably hold about 80 or 85 people. If the baptism rate stays as high as it has been, the walls might have to be pushed out, Ward said.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “There are challenges, but it’s been a blast.”