Paul W. Powell
Dedicationto my grandsonMathew Kallas
Table of Contents
1. Awakening: Why Sit We Here Till We Die? ............. 9
2. Repenting: The Seven Deadly Sins
of the Modern Church............................................. 21
3. Praying: The All Importance of Prayer ................... 31
4. Weeping: The Tears of Jesus .................................. 43
5. Witnessing: The Best Way to Witness .................... 55
6. Worshipping: The Seeking God .............................. 67
7. Loving: Christians Out of Joint .............................. 77
8. Believing: The Power of Faith ................................ 91
9. Serving: The Fatherhood of God,
the Brotherhood of Man,
the Neighborhood Where You Live ...................... 103
10. Cooperating: The Army of the Anonymous .......... 115
In 1836 a pioneer preacher named Z. N. Morrell
migrated from Tennessee to Texas. For the next 46 years
he would be a traveling missionary for Texas Baptists. He
rode horseback, swam swollen rivers, braved Texas “blue
northers,” outran or out-fought hostile Indians, preached to
people wherever he could find them, and organized converts
into cooperative Baptist churches.
From the moment he crossed the Sabine River he caught
a vision that Texas would one day be a Baptist stronghold.
The text of his first sermon and the golden text of his life
was Isaiah 35:1: “The wilderness and the solitary place
shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and
blossom as a rose.”
Texas did blossom as a rose and became all that Morrell
envisioned and more. It grew until one in seven churches
in the Southern Baptist Convention were in Texas and one
out of every seven dollars given to the Cooperative Program
were Texas Baptist dollars.
But somewhere along the way we lost the vision, zeal,
and dedication of Morrell and his counterparts, and Texas
has reverted back to a mission field. Although we have
almost 5,000 churches, most of them are small (71 percent
of our churches run 100 or less in Sunday School) and 56
percent have either plateaued or are in decline. All the while
people have been flooding into Texas, until we are now the
second most populous state in the nation. Percentage-wise
we have fewer churches today than we had in 1900.
If we would win our state to Christ it is obvious that
business as usual will not get the job done. We must build
more and stronger churches. I have written this book to
I’ve chosen the name How to Start a Church Fire
because the church is the only movement Jesus left on earth
to represent him. If, therefore, we would advance his
kingdom we must strengthen the churches we already have
and they in turn must establish new churches where they
Our state leadership is committed to this great work and
so, too, am I. It is my hope that you will be committed to it
Lt. Governor Bob Bullock includes in each
correspondence he sends a small stick-on flag of Texas with
the prayer, “God bless Texas,” printed across the bottom. I
have that flag on a folder I look at almost daily. But more
than looking at it, I have made those words my daily prayer.
I’m persuaded God wants to bless Texas but he is most likely
to do that if we concentrate on strengthening our churches.
To do that there are some things we absolutely must do. If
you’ll walk with me through these pages I’ll show you what
I believe them to be.
Paul W. Powell
Chapter 1Awakening:Why Sit We Here Till We Die?2 Kings 7:3-9
A prominent West Texas rancher-oil man had a homely
looking, unmarried daughter. In hopes of finding her a
husband, he invited all of the eligible bachelors in the county
to a barbecue at his ranch. As they gathered around the
swimming pool for the festivities he made an announcement.
He said, “This swimming pool is filled with man-eating
sharks and anyone who will swim across it can have the
hand of my daughter in marriage and one-half of my vast
fortune. Or, they can have $1 million in cash.”
He had hardly finished his announcement when there
was a splash and one of the men went swimming across the
pool, lickety-split. As he climbed out on the other side, the
rancher rushed over, shook his hand, and said, “Son,
congratulations! I suppose you would like to have the hand
of my daughter in marriage and one-half of my vast
He said, “No, I don’t want that?” The rancher said,
“Well, then I suppose you would like the $1 million in cash.”
He said, “No, I don’t want that.”
“Then,” asked the rancher, “what would you like?”
He said, “What I’d like is to get my hands on the fellow
who pushed me.”
Sometimes we need a push in life. That’s what I want
to give today. This push comes in the form of a question. It
Awakening: Why Sit We Here Till We Die?
is this: “Why sit we here till we die?”
This question was first posed by four starving lepers
who sat outside the gates of the city of Samaria. Leprosy
was considered the deadliest disease of the ancient world.
It was thought to be highly contagious and before modern
medicine it was incurable. Isolation was the only way
known to deal with it. So these lepers were forced to live in
leper colonies outside the city. They could, under certain
conditions, go inside to buy food or occasionally family
members brought it to them. But in this instance their
situation was complicated by the fact that Samaria was under
siege. King Ben Hadad of Syria had laid siege to the city,
cut off its food supply, and it was slowly starving to death.
As the food diminished, inflation set in. Exorbitant
prices were charged for the most unsavory kinds of food.
Some people even resorted to eating animal refuse and to
cannibalism, to eating their own children.
Sitting outside the gates, starving, the lepers pondered
their fate and weighed their options. They had three choices.
They could go into the city, but that wouldn’t help because
the people inside were as bad off as they were. They could
go to the enemy camp and surrender or they could sit there
and die. They reasoned, “If we surrender to the enemy we
might die. If we sit here and do nothing we are sure to die.”
Thus, they determined the deadliest thing they could do
was do nothing. So they decided to take a chance. They
decided to go to the enemy camp and surrender.
To their utter surprise, when they got there, they found
the camp deserted. The Lord had caused the Syrian army
to hear a great sound and, thinking it to be another army
attacking, fled for their lives, leaving all their food and
supplies behind. The four lepers found not only enough
food for themselves, but enough to save the entire city.
- INDEX - PAUL POWELL BOOKS
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 - Awaking: Why Sit We Here Till We Die?
- We Exist By Mission
- Small Men, Long Shadows
- Be Excited and Be Committed
- A Strong and Stable Fellowship
- Up and At ?Em
- The Breath of God
- Chapter 2 - Repenting: The Seven Deadly Sins of the Modern Church
- Trivializing God
- Turning the Sheepfold into a Zoo
- Filling the Church With Empty People
- Impoverished by Wealth
- Dancing in the Aisles or Sleeping in the Pews
- A Family in Disarray
- The Statue of Responsibility
- Chapter 3 - Praying: The All Importance of Prayer
- Understanding Prayer
- Respecting Authority
- Just One Between
- Can You Hear Him?
- Chapter 4 - Weeping: The Tears of Jesus
- Breaking the Law and Breaking His Heart
- God?s Great Compliment
- Despised and Rejected of Men
- Chapter 5 - Witnessing: The Best Way to Witness
- Building Bridges of Friendship
- An Open Nerve in Society
- I Wondered If You?d Come
- Chapter 6 - Worshipping: The Seeking God
- Writing in the Sand
- Whoopee or Woe Is Me?
- Go and Claim It!
- Yes, But Can You Hear Him?
- Help for the Storms
- Chapter 7 - Loving: Christians Out of Joint
- Spiritual Brothers
- Spiritual Growth
- Spiritual Ministry
- Chapter 8 - Beliveing: The Power of Faith
- The Word of a Gentleman
- Step Up to the Door
- Jehovah is Still God
- Chapter 9 - Serving: The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, The Neighborhood Where You Live
- Beware of Ambition
- A New Beatitude
- Oh God! Make Me Like Joe!
- Chapter 10 - Cooperating: The Army of the Anonymous
- Do What You Can
- For Whom the Bell Tolls
- Girded by Grace