Reviving the Dying Small-Town Church

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | September 25, 2017

Jeremy Sarver was a mama’s boy, so when he was 14 and his mother left his father—and didn’t take him with her—he was devastated.

“My dad was concerned about me and began to take me to counselors,” he said. “I did not in any way enjoy that.”

He was hard on the counselors, and his dad “became desperate.”

“We didn’t go to church, but he remembered when I played baseball a few years ago, there was an assistant coach who was also a pastor,” Sarver said. “He got a hold of this pastor, who began to meet with me, and unfolded the gospel. That was the Lord’s timing, and things clicked.”

Sarver received Christ and “immediately attached” himself to the church and the pastor, Allen Sparks, who became a surrogate father to him.

Their church—Liberty Chapel—was 15 minutes outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana, an hour northwest of Indianapolis. Founded in a log cabin in 1835, the little congregation worked for decades to keep the doors open—merging with a nearby struggling Methodist church in 1947, becoming a nondenominational community church in 1967, and finally asking Village Missions for help in 1983.

Village Missions said yes, because Liberty Church is…

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