My lawn looks worse than it has in a few years. Thin spots abound and bare spots appear in what was once a carpet-thick plane of bountiful blades. A sickly and yellowish color has usurped the deep, robust green. It is growing unevenly and needs mowing only rarely. This is in spite of summer’s favorable weather. During 2013’s summer deluge and 2012’s heat and drought, my lawn was better than it is now. I take some solace in knowing my lawn isn’t alone. All the lawns along our end of the street look bad—measurably worse than normal.
And I know why.
David Neace moved away.
Yes, last October David Neace (the former BCM director at Anderson University) moved to Myrtle Beach to start a BCM at Coastal Carolina University. I miss him, but my lawn—and all nearby lawns—miss him, too. David is the Michael Jordan of lawn keepers. When he lived across the street, we forbade our children even to step on his pristine, Augusta National-quality patch of perfection. He labored over it. He fertilized it on time, every time. He double-mowed it in crisscross patterns. He prepped it through the winter to maximize it in the spring. And it was beautiful, earning a perennial place as champion of the neighborhood “best yard” contest.
David’s lawn affected other lawns. Looking across the street to David’s lawn forced me to consider my ways, repent, buy the better fertilizer, get out the sprinkler, sharpen the mower, and tune up the trimmer. Other neighbors followed suit and, for three summers, our end of the street approached a level that might have qualified us for a Scott’s commercial. But, David moved, no one picked up the baton of bold turf leadership, and we all feel less compelled to pursue such excellence.
That’s how influence works, and that’s how discipleship works. We come into close proximity to others who do it well and mimic them. The imitation reproduces, and soon an encouraging community emerges. Without an example to follow and a community to encourage, we falter. Paul often encouraged the churches to imitate him and his companions (1 Cor 4:16, 11:1; 1 Thess 1:6), and Hebrews 10:23-25 leads us to embrace the encouragement and accountability that a community can provide.[quote style=”full” author=”Hebrews 10:23-25″] Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised if faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. [/quote]
It’s simple, but not easy, so we’re tempted to short-circuit the process with cookie cutter programs. Yet, making disciples is much like growing green grass in a subdivision—an example and a community combine to exert peer pressure in the most positive of ways. In short, this is what the church exists to do.
Dr. Chuck Fuller comes to Anderson University with 13 years of experience in pastoral ministry, serving churches in Kentucky and Indiana. He holds a BA in Christian Studies from Campbellsville University, and an MDiv and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His primary field of study for the Ph.D. was in Christian preaching, with additional studies in systematic theology and philosophy. Before arriving at AU, Dr. Fuller was pastor at Bethany Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and adjunct professor of Christian preaching at Boyce College of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Additionally, Dr. Fuller has served on committees and boards of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Married to Jessie, Dr. Fuller and his wife have two children–Kaylen Marie and Ian Charles. Jessie holds a Bachelor of Bible from Ozark Christian College, with a concentration in deaf ministry. Currently, Jessie works as a stay-at-home mom and brilliant culinary artist.
Homiletical theology comprises Dr. Fuller’s primary research area, as demonstrated in his recent book, The Trouble With “Truth Through Personality”: Phillips Brooks, Incarnation, and the Evangelical Boundaries of Preaching. Dr. Fuller also presented a paper, titled “The Pulpit at the Precipice of Heresy,” at the 2010 meeting of the Evangelical Homiletical Society.