FBC Linn renews Acts 1:8 vision
June 6, 2006
LINN – David Krueger, the 18-year pastor of First Baptist Church, Linn, is thankful for the vision of Southern Baptist leaders who have not given up on the idea of reaching the world with the Gospel.
Krueger, 51, has spent more than one-third of his life witnessing to the people of this small Osage County town that has “grown” from about 1,200 in 1988 to 1,354 (according to the city limits sign) in 2006. His congregation has increased in size from 60 or so in Sunday School to 85, with 120-125 in worship, but Krueger admitted that he, like many Missouri Baptist pastors, needs to do better.
“One of the cycles that we’ve gone through for the last couple of years, and I really see it as more of my fault, is that, to some degree, we have become lackadaisical in our approach to ministry,” he said. “A pastor should be leading in that area, and I just wasn’t. Over the last five years especially, I’ve probably preached more doctrine than I did in the first 13 years I was here combined. Because I put such a big emphasis on that, I let some things slide, and one of them was trying to cast a vision for where the church needed to go.
“I think in Baptist life and in church life it’s easy to get on autopilot. I know for the last two years I’ve kind of been on autopilot as a pastor. The Acts 1:8 Challenge that’s been developed by the convention has really given me a fresh passion of helping the church be a Great Commission church. I can remember a long time ago when the convention was emphasizing Bold Mission Thrust, and I thought that was such a wonderful thing. As we all know, that kind of got put on the back burner, and while I fully believe in the conservative resurgence, it took a lot of our energy and attention. So the Acts 1:8 Challenge has really renewed my passion for what I had in Bold Mission Thrust so many years ago.”
Krueger participated in the Missouri Southern Baptist conservative resurgence as a key communicator by means of innovative, electronic media and as a board member at Hannibal-LaGrange College from 1995-2005. He is the founding Webmaster of The Pathway Web site, which until May 24 was run by one of his church members, Pathway staffer Julie Anderson. Krueger takes pride in the fact that www.mbcpathway.com had about 27,000 hits in March.
“I think that very quickly The Pathway Web site became one of the major distribution points of news from a conservative viewpoint, not just to Missouri Baptists but to Southern Baptists,” he said. “Obviously, I want to see it continue in that trend. You can be a conservative and tell the truth.”
Krueger used to manage the Web site for Word & Way, but resigned those duties in October 2001 when Word & Way trustees amended the newspaper’s charter to become self-perpetuating without Missouri Baptist Convention approval. In February of 2002, Cindy Province, a member of the MBC Executive Board and member of the board’s Pathway editor search committee who is credited with coming up with the Pathway name, called Krueger to inquire about the birth of www.mbcpathway.com.
“We talked for several hours that night, and she asked if I would be willing to get a new newsjournal off the ground here in Missouri,” Krueger said. “In the beginning, it would be just electronic in nature (because) they were still looking for an editor at that time.
“I didn’t hear anything for the longest time. Then finally I got another call from Cindy saying that they had hired an editor.” It was a PhD. candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a national correspondent for Baptist Press by the name of Don Hinkle.
Krueger worked with Hinkle on the new product from its Internet debut in June 2002 through May 2004, when Anderson was hired and updated its design with help from Automated Church Systems (ACS).
But four years ago, Krueger was faced with the prospect of building a Web site in time for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis. The pastor from Linn was up for the challenge.
“I got us a server, and laid the groundwork for actually having a site that we could put the information on, getting the site registered and everything,” he said.
“Going to ACS (in 2004) made it much more labor-intensive—much more time-consuming. I trained Julie on how to do it and worked with her for probably a week and a half, and then she took off with it. Julie’s done a great job. She learned it exceedingly quick and was very good at getting everything changed over.
“Even though many newspapers are going down in circulation, print media still has an important place in our culture, but let’s face it – immediacy has become really important. The Pathway’s been able to use the Web site to get stories out about the legal situation to Missouri Baptists virtually overnight. I’m a big believer in the viability of electronic media for getting word out to Christians, not only in news but with Bible studies.”
Krueger has co-moderated a Missouri Baptist discussion list for four years now online with long-time friend Jim Shaver, pastor, Providence Baptist Church, New Bloomfield. He also edits an electronic newsletter for “church and friends” that he tries to produce every week. The newsletter includes Baptist news and history as well as a section on the persecuted church.
“I enjoy helping people understand what I think are important issues and how the Bible is relevant to them,” Krueger said. “I really do it as an extension of my pastoral responsibilities and duties. It’s communication.”
Some of the recent graduates of the Linn public school system have known Krueger only as their pastor. Even so, he said his wife, Linda, a high school choral music teacher, is likely touching more lives on a daily basis. He sees how honest she is in her personal relationships, and her ongoing passion for teaching music inspires him.
“She’s probably the finest Christian I know,” Krueger said. “Her ministry is probably more influential than mine. There are probably more people who know her than know me. She’s had a huge impact on the lives of kids here in the community. She is very caring as far as wanting the kids to be their very best.”
One of the statements that a pastor like Krueger makes with his life is that the spiritual condition of the congregation is more important than the growth of the pastor’s personal ministry. He said his people know without a doubt that he will not do anything to hurt the church, and that great trust and lasting friendships have been built through their 18-year association. He particularly remembers the love he was shown when his father, Don, died of leukemia in 1991 and his mother, Alice, died of emphysema in 1997.
He aims to preach the Word and reach out to the greater Linn community.
“Many years ago, I made the decision that among other things, I want people to say that this is a congregation that knows what the Bible teaches, knows what they believe, and that the congregation is thoroughly Baptist,” he said. “I want people to be able to look at this congregation and say, ‘This is a biblically sound congregation.’
“We’ve worked hard to make our facilities available for community events, particularly school events. The more times you can get lost people into your church for virtually anything, not just when they’re in trouble, they’ll remember, for example, that they were at that high school choral event that was at Linn First Baptist Church. So they’ll say, ‘Let’s go there and see what they’re about.’”