Real Tree Church held its first Farmington service last Sunday
There are plenty of challenges in Shon McIntyre's new line of work, but at least he doesn't have to worry about getting trampled by a bull.
On Sunday McIntyre led the first Farmington service of The Real Tree Church. The church had already held four Sunday services at Eureka Town Hall, but McIntyre, a former professional bull rider, said it became clear early on the young congregation was outgrowing the space. Last weekend they moved their Sunday service to the little theater at Boeckman Middle School.
This isn't McIntyre's first experience with building a church from scratch. He was a member of The River Church in that congregation's early days in Farmington, and as he started the process of planning Real Tree Church he joined a young church in Cannon Falls. He's seen the work that goes into building a congregation from scratch, but this is the first time he's been the one responsible for the building.
The process took more than two years. McIntyre started with one man studying the Bible in his basement and grew steadily from there. He estimates there were 65 to 70 people at last Sunday's service.
The idea he might someday start a church would have seemed strange to McIntyre when he was younger. In 18 years as a professional bullrider he lived what he described as a rock star's life.
"I was pretty far from God during that part of my life," he said.
Even when he married a woman from the Farmington area and started to settle down he wasn't exactly the religious type. He still drank too much, he said. But then one day he was out bow hunting and a passage in a book opened his eyes. It argued that 99 percent obedience is still disobedience, and it changed McIntyre's life.
McIntyre went back to school and got a bachelor's degree in Biblical studies. He's currently working on his masters of divinity degree.
Standing in front of a room and preaching didn't seem like the most natural thing in the beginning, but McIntyre has gotten comfortable with it. He knows he wants to spread the message of the Bible, and he knows this is the best way to do it.
"It's grown on me because I like to preach," he said. "I've spent my life doing things I didn't want to do, like getting on a bull I didn't want to get on. If you know you're supposed to do something, you'll do it."
McIntyre is convinced he is supposed to lead this church. He is convinced it is important to spread the word of the Bible, and it would take a lot of bucking to throw him off of that idea.
There is no real plan for the church's future. McIntyre has not set growth targets. He plans to preach, and he figures the rest will work out the way it's supposed to.
McIntyre knows there are people in the world who could use support from a church congregation, and he knows there are people who are more likely to attend a new church or a church that does not meet in a traditional church building. That is part of what drew him to The River, he said.
"We're just trying to use God's word and let God draw people," McIntyre said. "It's not about numbers. It's about people getting it."