Gritty church in Moscow Mills discovering new life
MOSCOW MILLS – First Baptist Church, Moscow Mills, is refusing to die.
Its pastor, Floyd Pyle, is praying. Its members are reaching out to their community of 3,000 that borders Troy to the west of St. Louis. And the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) is coming alongside to help.
“They’re going from an inward focus of ministering to each other to an outward focus of reaching and impacting their community,” said MBC Church Planting Strategist Rick Biesiadecki. “They’ve never done it before, so it’s a hard process for them, but they’re taking the steps that go in that direction. It’s really exciting.”
At the start of 2006, the church was down to about 30 in worship. With a new attitude and a series of new outreach efforts, the flock has been built back up to around 60.
“We’ve seen some people come back, and we’ve seen visitors come and stick,” said Pyle, 60, who has served the church as pastor since April of 2001.
Pyle, a former advertising salesman for Bott Radio, said his basic plan starts and ends with prayer. He anchors his personal prayer life in Psalm 42:1-2, where the believer is encouraged to long after God like the deer longing after water.
“Prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer,” he said. “I spend an enormous amount of time in prayer. As a matter of fact, I was praying when the phone rang (in the morning of Nov. 15).”
Biesiadecki said God is using Pyle’s perseverance in prayer as well as his gritty personality.
“Floyd’s about 90 pounds of gristle,” Biesiadecki said. “Floyd is just a tough dude.”
Pyle said it was important for the church, which consists of many senior adults, to begin to get out into three different subdivisions of Moscow Mills for the purpose of prayer walking.
“If we didn’t make some changes, the church was going to die,” he said.
That led to some servant evangelism projects like giving away smoke alarm batteries, handing out carnations to mothers, and distributing free candy canes at Wal-Mart. The candy cane idea is scheduled for December, connected to the handing out of notes about the church.
Early in the year the church decided to debut a contemporary worship service on Wednesday night. Two vanloads of youth are brought in to hear Pyle preach in blue jeans. It’s that type of willingness to try something new that thrills Biesiadecki.
“I helped them to just be able to think a little differently about doing ministry,” he said. “They might not know totally how to do all the different stuff, but they’re making an attempt.”
Pyle was looking at church planting before God got a hold of the First Moscow Mills membership and spurred this renewal. He prays for several things to change in his life on a daily basis, including that he would be a clean vessel, have Christ-like character, display the fruit of the Spirit and have contagious faith. He quickly admits to being a work in progress who continues to seek out several pastors in the area as mentors.
“I am nowhere near as passionate about the Lord, the lost, prayer and Bible study as I want to be,” he said. “I am a long, long, long way from being where I want to be or where I think God wants me.”
His goal is for the church to be over the 100 mark by next Christmas and even larger in number as a new addition to the church gets built.
“My ultimate goal is for the Lord to use me and use these people here to grow this church to be 300-500 in Sunday School and worship,” he said.