J.D. Tant — Texas Preacher

J.D. Tant — Texas Preacher

By Kevin Cauley 1/5/2017

I have just finished reading one of the most delightful books that I have ever read. It is entitled, J.D. Tant–Texas Preacher. I am sure that many of the brethren have read this book, and I would encourage more to read it. As a young gospel preacher, I found it particularly encouraging because in this biography we have an example of a man who confirmed in his life the very principles to which we have committed ourselves as gospel preachers. In this book, brother Tant stands as an everlasting example to preachers everywhere as to what a gospel preacher should be. Let us briefly look at how this man followed the Lord in his life. Then let us follow his example as he followed Christ.

J.D. Tant is an example of what a Gospel preacher should be in being honest. When J.D. Tant first started preaching, he was a Methodist preacher. One day, a “Campbellite” preacher came to town and Tant went to hear this man. He was convinced that Methodist doctrine was wrong and he became a Christian. He had been immersed with Methodist “baptism” and was told that if he was satisfied with his “baptism” then he would not have to be “baptized” again. A few years later, J.D. Tant came in contact with a man who taught that sectarian “baptism” was not New Testament baptism even if it was done in the form of immersion. J.D., being convinced that his “baptism” was valid, engaged this man in a debate. Tant “licked” his opponent. However, his opponent came back with new rebuttals. In the second debate, J.D. was forced to see the necessity of being immersed with the knowledge that immersion was for the remission of sins. Although the man with whom he debated did not baptize him, he sought out another gospel preacher and was scripturally baptized. Truly he is an example to the gospel preacher on being an honest man.

J.D. Tant is an example of what a Gospel preacher should be in preaching the gospel. He went everywhere he could to preach. When he first started preaching, he would simply go to people’s homes and preach to them right in their own houses. Soon, a church of Christ was established and he would go to another place to preach once more. In his day, they had what were called “protracted gospel meetings.” They would meet every day for seven hours a day for a period of three to four weeks. This is what they called a gospel meeting. (This embarrasses me when I think of the series of sermons we style “gospel meetings” today. It is no wonder that the church grew during that time, and it is no wonder that we are not growing today. The people wanted to hear gospel preaching and were willing to devote large amounts of time to hear and study the gospel message. Would to God that we get back to real gospel meetings instead of this Friday to Sunday nonsense!) Brother Tant was not ashamed to preach the gospel anywhere he could. If there was a church in the town, then he would go there and ask to use the building to preach a gospel meeting. If there was no church, then he would go to the “digressives” (Christian church) and ask to use their building to hold a gospel meeting. If there were only denominations, then he would go and ask to use one of their buildings to preach the gospel. If all three of these were not present, or did not allow him to use their building, then he would go to the courthouse and hold a gospel meeting there. He did not stop until he found a place to preach the gospel. When he left, he usually left a small congregation. Often times, he left a fairly large congregation with a meeting house which, more than likely, he helped build. At the end of his life he had baptized over 8000 people and had trained more than 100 gospel preachers. Truly he was a great example in preaching.

J.D. Tant was an example in contending “… earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). When he did preach in Christian church houses, he made is plain that he was opposed to the mechanical instrument of music and to the missionary society. When he preached to Methodists and Baptists, he made it plain that these people had to come out of Methodist and Baptist doctrine to be saved. Very often, the Methodists and/or Baptists would realize what was happening and challenge him for a debate. He was more than happy to comply with them stating that he would “affirm anything they would deny and deny anything they would affirm.” Often times he did not even worry about signing a proposition until he arrived at the debate location knowing that he was going to oppose error and defend the truth. Not only did he debate the denominations, but he also debated his own brethren in regards to the question of whether a person must know that they are being baptized for the remission of sins when they are baptized. He affirmed that a person must know this and was instrumental in convicting many brethren of this truth. He was also militant in his writing. He would not hesitate to write in the Firm Foundation, or the Gospel Advocate who, where, and what he had condemned through the power of the gospel. Toward the end of his life, many churches asked him to come and straighten out congregational problems that had arisen. He would not hesitate to mount the pulpit and call names of individuals and tell the sin in which they were involved. At the end of his articles, in which he would report these things, he would write, “Don’t forget, brethren, we are drifting.” Had he lived to see today, no doubt he would have written, “Brethren, we have drifted.” J.D. Tant was an example in contending earnestly for the faith.

There are many other things in which J.D. Tant is a good example for gospel preachers. He was an example in bravery, sincerity, charity, loyalty, sacrifice, humor, and many more wonderful Christian virtues. We would do well to buy this book; read it; learn from this man’s life, and follow him as he followed Christ.

Post-Mortem of a Failed Church

  1. We didn’t gather enough resources – money and team.
  2. We took too much for granted. Assumed that people would love our ideas as much as we did.
  3. We jumped into the deep end with weights tied around our ankles. The weights was our personal debt. I had to work a “Career” type job in order to pay our bills. This meant I didn’t have the time or energy left to plant a church.
  4. Our vision for church planting didn’t match our sending group. That’s something we kinda realized and completely ignored. I think that ended up hurting our effectiveness because the advice we got wasn’t congruent with what we were wanting to do and comfortable with.
  5. Both spouses weren’t 110% committed to planting a church. Both of us were committed to ministry – but not fully committed to started a new church.

What we did well.

  1. We took our time.
  2. We asked a lot of questions from a lot of different people.
  3. We followed the leadership of a church planting group.
  4. We completely stepped out in faith and went “all in.”


Thanks so much to http://www.wavecuttercharters.com for sponsoring my blog.

Not Sure Why People Are Leaving Your Church?

Are people leaving your church . . . and you’re not sure why? If so, you’re probably a little (or more than a little) upset by this. Maybe you’re defensive, hurt and even a little angry.

I hope you hear me when I say that it’s not just you’re church. There’s a lot of churches that have people leaving. And there’s a lot of people who are in your position.

Now, as far as any emotions you’re experiencing or have experienced – I take those as a positive sign. It means you care. Now, I’ll be honest and say that you might care more than you should about the wrong things or the wrong people. But at least you care. If you have an “oh well” attitude, well that’s not such a good thing.

I’ve wrestled with a lot of the thoughts that I’m still trying to figure out how to write down. Some of the wrestling is because I was frustrated and didn’t want those frustrations to come out in an unChristlike way. And I think some of the wrestling was due to the fact that there are some tough realities and truths that need to be shared with you. And I don’t want to hurt you.

But here we are. And here I am now writing this. So let me just share some thoughts from a lady who wrote a great book that I am working through. Her name is Ruth Haley Barton and the book is titled Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.


Thanks so much to http://ultracleansarasota.com for sponsoring my blog!

A Few Thoughts on Martin Luther

Between the death of the last apostle (probably John) and the beginning of the 16th century it would be difficult to find any one person who left such an impacting legacy as Martin Luther. There were definitely some Church Fathers that we’ll be studying and learning from for ages to come. But in terms of the lasting impact on the Christian faith, during that time period Martin Luther stands head and shoulders above all others. On October 31, 1517 Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Church in Wittenburg. By doing this he began stripping away the authority of the Pope and the power of the Church as an institution; and in the process of doing so he set off a firestorm that would formally last until 1648.

That having been said, when he first wrote these 95 objections to the sale of indulgences he wasn’t intending to start any sort of reformation movement. He was simply fed up with the unethical and immoral behavior of the Roman Catholic Church and it’s representatives – specifically as it related to his own parishioners being ripped off by these phony indulgences that were being used to build St. Peter’s Basilica (the same one that still stands today). Surprisingly, at this time he still had the utmost respect for the Pope and considered himself to be a faithful follower. However, this had all changed by 1521. During that year he called the Pope the anti-Christ, was excommunicated and had to go into hiding.

It’s difficult to determine with any certainty which part of his theology was the most important in terms of his lasting impact. It was a specific mixture of all of them that set him apart, angered many and created such an excitement that people were eager to follow. That being said, Luther’s legacy (i.e. importance) is not necessarily in what he believed and taught but how he taught and who he divided himself against. In other words,  his most important doctrine (or success) was the one that created, not only the distinction, but more importantly the separation from the status quo. When Luther defied and broke away from the papacy he authorized what had been denied and legitimized all that had been repressed; that being the spiritual independence of each person from the institutional nature of the Catholic Church at its head. It was this contribution (which was grounded in theology) that was most impressive, most lasting and most important. Because of this, each person  is able to stand alone, in terms of their ability to determine and practice their faith according to their interpretation of the Word of God, without having the Church looking over their shoulder. All the other significant contributions that Luther made through his theological understanding are grounded in this one.

This lasting contribution is huge and shouldn’t be downplayed. But it doesn’t mean that his ministry didn’t have any negative side-effects or that it wasn’t full of errors. There were actually three doctrines of the Church that he agreed with and continued to preach. 1) He maintained the union of Church and State. In other words, whoever controlled the Church would control the state. 2) He retained infant baptism. 3) While he didn’t teach transubstantiation in the Lord’s Supper. He did teach the step below that (consubstantiation), that the Lord’s Supper was literally the blood and body of Christ and not a memorial (which is what Zwingli ended up teaching). The last “failure” worth mentioning was his “personality.” He really wasn’t a very nice person. He was crude, rude, vulgar and really enjoyed his beer (he was a German).

Thanks so much to my friend Denny (owner of Bradenton Towing Company) for sponsoring my blog. Thanks Denny!

How Not to Plant a Church

I’ve always struggled with being self-conscious. Some of it’s from childhood stuff. Some of it’s probably because I’ve always had to fight against gaining weight. I’m sure there’s probably a few different causes. Everyone’s got something. That’s just mine. So when it comes to publicly rehashing my failures, well . . . not so much.

But, sometimes it’s good to get it out. Not just for some mushy, feel-better, therapeutic reasons. (Though that often helps). Also, because we’re not alone. Since God expects me to live in community with all the other believers out there, if learning from my mistakes will help you, then great! That will be a way that I can help my community. So, I guess now it’s time to start sharing.

Let me back up for a moment first. I’m not about to air out all my dirty laundry. Plus, I really don’t have anything that interesting anyway. My sins are all pretty boring stuff. What I’m talking about is our foray into church planting.

Blessing Your Children

My family is moving into a new season in our lives. In so many ways it has shown up as a rebirth. We were worn and stressed out. We were frustrated by so many different circumstances that life had brought our way – and in too many ways Satan was winning in our lives. But,

To say that we’ve been blessed would be an understatement. We seen God’s faithfulness show up in ways that we didn’t expect or really had never even considered. We moved from a failed attempt at church planting into a ministry with a healthy community of God’s people. We’ve gone from a one income family where each payday brought a sigh of relief; to where my wife is now back in the classroom teaching kids who have been largely cast aside by our society. Watching her being fulfilled as she poor herself out is a blessing.