I just wanted to say thank you for all of your help. Your knowledge has been very helpful to me. May I ask where you have studied?
I and the churches I associate with strictly adhere to the teachings of the Bible. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). The knowledge I have managed to gain has come from over forty years of studying the Bible, both on my own and with various brethren that I have met and worshiped with over the years. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). I have studied under several preachers, but I have not attended any seminary or divinity school. Such didn't exist in the days of the New Testament and the more conservative churches of Christ do not operate one. Bible knowledge is meant to be passed on from person to person. "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2).
I do hold a master's degree in Computer Science and for over 18 years supported my family while working as a programmer and a part-time preacher. I moved too high in the company I worked for and it began to interfere with my preaching, so I quit to become a full-time preacher. I still dabble in programming and teach programming once in a while at a local community college. The programming background has helped me in analyzing people's problems and presenting facts in a logical and orderly fashion. Computers are far dumber than people (though they are faster), so I figure if I can explain things to a computer, I certainly should be able to explain things to people.
I, in turn, try to pass what I know on to others. In the ten years I have been at La Vista, there have been at least four men who have left and became preachers in other congregations. Two of our past members are elders in other congregations, though one left before I arrived. It might seem like small numbers, but you have to understand that La Vista is a small congregation in a very transient area.
I know, it takes all the mystic out of it, doesn't it. Any one could do the same, given the same amount of time and study. And that is the point! I'm not unique; I'm just serving God to the best of my ability. My favorite verse says it all: "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Luke 17:10).