Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)
In 1938 Francis Schaeffer was assigned his first congregation. The tiny church - no more than an upstairs meeting room in the American Legion hall - was in Grove City, Pennsylvania. The congregation consisted of 18 rebels who had left their old denomination because it was too liberal. The first sermon on Sunday morning was a nervous time for Francis and Edith Schaeffer. But the most obvious drawback about the congregation was the total absence of children. They had been left - at their own insistence - with their friends in the Sunday School of the old church!
The sermon went well, but a church with no children was unacceptable to Francis. He wasn't heavy-handed enough to harangue the congregation into bringing their children. He would just go out and win the children. It was summer and what better time was there for a 'wienie roast'? He found an ideal spot in the town's very forested city park. He bought hot dogs, buns, marshmallows and soda pop. Then he did something so simple and direct it was astonishing. He got in his Model A and began rounding up boys!
"Hey, do you guys want to go to a wienie roast?" he would call out to some boys playing marbles.
"How about some hot dogs and pop, boys?" he would call to some boys playing baseball in an empty lot.
Soon he had chauffeured 17 boys to the park!
By the time the roast was over Francis had fed the boys, played games with them and delivered an easy-going talk about creation. The boys voiced their acceptance of Francis by calling him 'Rev'. 'Do you guys want another wienie roast next week?' he asked. 'Sure, Rev!' they shouted.
And so the roast went on week after week, usually drawing about 20 boys. These boys became the nucleus of the Schaeffers' two-week Summer Bible School too. With their help Francis went door-to-door talking to parents and inviting children to his Bible School. Of course girls were invited too.
"Seventy-nine!" gasped Edith the first morning of Bible School.
And once in his Bible School Francis only cemented his appeal to the children. Francis, the too serious too angry too feisty young cleric, somehow completely subdued that hard edge. He knew how to let kids have fun. He reeked of trust. Young people were attracted to him like bees to honey…
[source: The Tapestry by Edith Schaeffer, 1981]
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