HINTON, Okla. (BP) — “And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.” — Job 8:7
That verse has special significance for Mike Price, pastor of Scott Baptist Church in Hinton, Okla., and his congregation.
The church, founded in 1946, had dwindled to only a handful of members a few years ago. On Easter Sunday 2006, the church had only 13 in attendance.
“It was very confronting,” said Price, who was serving as interim pastor at the time. “I told the congregation that we need to decide this day. Was God through with us or do we still have a purpose?
“We decided as a group that day that we believed God was not through with us yet,” he said. Price and his congregation put 13 stones out in front of the church as a sign of their covenant with God and each other.
In the years that followed, God blessed the congregation with growth.
“We had 26 baptisms in 2010,” Price said.
The church has had more than 50 baptisms in Price’s pastorate. Today, the congregation averages more than 50 in Sunday School and upwards of 80 in worship.
The pastor made two commitments when taking on his role.
“I promised to preach the Word of God and to love people,” said Price, who previously served as a chaplain in prison ministry for more than 20 years.
“I was saved when I was 9 and called to preach when I was 12,” he said. “It took God many years to move me to this point in life, but everything was preparation for what I am doing.”
Price and his wife Jean have been married 48 years and have three grown children. His son Mark is pastor at Binger Baptist Church in Binger, Okla., and his son-in-law, Brad Mardis, is technical arts director at Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla.
Under Price’s leadership, the church has taken part in missions, including trips to Mexico, Nicaragua and most recently, Brush, Colo.
“Thirteen is a number of significance in a good way for our church,” said the pastor. “Of course we had 13 members on that Easter Sunday we first committed to make a go of things, but the number keeps coming up. For example, we took 13 members to Colorado and helped a church put on Bible school. We saw 32 enrolled and 20 decisions,” Price said.
Price has led the church to give faithfully through the Cooperative Program and the local Baptist association -– 10 percent to each.
“If we are faithful to ‘tithe’ of the gifts we receive, God will bless,” he said.
When Price took over as pastor, the church had two Sunday School classes. Today, it has more than a half-dozen, including two for adults, one for young adults and classes for youth and children.
“As Sunday School goes, so goes the church,” Price said.
The church also puts on events for the community, such as a movie night for youth. Recently, dozens of youth gathered to watch “Courageous” on the church grounds.
Price said he believes the church’s comeback is due solely to God.
“This church, for many people, is a church of new beginnings,” he said.
Brian Hobbs is editor of the Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, where this article first appeared. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).