Rural Route Heroes: Part 1

Take Hwy 54 from Dresden, TN.  When you reach Como, TN you will make a right onto Hwy 140.   Go about 3 miles and make a right onto McCain Road.   McCain Road will turn into Tumbling Creek Road once you leave Henry County.  Tumbling Creek Road will take you to the nexus of  Nowhereville, TN.  Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, by all accounts, is located in such a way that it should not be able to grow numerically.  It is WAY off the beaten path.  The church defies all church growth logic.  Enter. . . Gene Price!  Gene Price is the pastor of Tumbling Creek Baptist Church.  He is one of my Rural Church Heroes.  Gene came to Tumbling Creek right out of seminary. . . . in 1984.  Do the math and you will find that Gene has been there for 24 years.

Let me give you some perspective.  Ronald Regan, Bush I, Bill Clinton, Bush II, and now Obama have been president during Gene’s tenure at Tumbling Creek.  The world has changed significantly during Gene’s time at Tumbling Creek.  Ronald Regan opened the Summer Olympics in 1984.  In 1986 we all watched the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.  In 1989 Communism fell with the Berlin Wall.  The world was glued to their T.V.’s in 1991 as Cruise Missiles hit the Center of Iraq in Gulf War I.  I was ten years old in 1984.  Gene has been there a long time.

Long tenure, although impressive, doesn’t make Gene a hero though.  Gene’s tenure has been filled with activity.  Lives have been changed because God has been faithful in using Gene’s availability.  Souls have been saved.  Ministers have been raised up.  Buildings have been enlarged to accommodate the unusual and unexpected growth.   Gene preached to 51 people on his first Sunday.  Last week he preached to over 250.  That might not be impressive where you are located, but 250 is a mega-church where Gene is.  Gene has stuck with it and persevered.  Gene isn’t one of my rural church heroes because of tenure.  He is a hero because, after 24 years, his members still describe him as a great shepherd.  Gene is a rural route hero because, after 24 years, he still sees “so much to do”.                          215

The new sanctuary holds a few more than 51.  216

Gene still looks like a 26 year old Seminary Graduate!219

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Comments (11)  


  1. Mike,

    I love this idea of yours, writing about rural church heroes. Thanks for sharing God’s story through Gene.


  2. Les,
    There are many to pick from. It was hard to narrow it down.

  3. I love it! Don’t get lazy on us. Keep them coming. It will make a great book. The perfect follow up to “Ordinary Pastor”.

  4. Perry,
    Hold your horses. The next installment will be on Monday. These things take time.

  5. Oh, I don’t expect them everyday. I just didn’t want to wait a month:)

  6. Hi Mike,
    It’s Stacy’s mom!!! What a wonderful idea to bring attention to the success stories of rural churches and the people who have worked to bring about that success. Gene Price and his wife, Trish are heroes of mine as well. When my husband resigned from a church in Gleason, we knew that we would be wandering around in the wilderness for a while, but didn’t think that was best for our son, Stacy. So, with all the confidence in the world in Gene and Trish, we left Stacy in their very capable hands as he attended Tumbling Creek Church without the overseeing eye of his parents. I think he was 15 at the time. Our instructions to Gene and Trish were to treat him as their own and thump him on the head if needed and to let us know if he was out of line in any way. Their influence on Stacy has been far reaching and I think is now playing itself out as he raises his own three boys. What a wonderful mentor he has been. We can’t say enough to thank him.

  7. Norma,

    Gene’s ministry with Stacy and Michelle has made an impact on my family and on Cottage Grove. There is no way I could imagine preaching on Sunday Morning at Cottage Grove without Stacy and our Choir leading us in Worship. By the way. . . when can I interview you and Kenneth?

  8. Waddy,

    Thank you for highlighting the work of rural route Pastors. The one you picked for your article is top notch. I do not have a finer friend in all the world than Gene Price.


  9. David,

    You are welcome. It has been a pleasure getting to know Gene and meeting the people that have been influenced by his ministry.

  10. Exellent post! Inspiring! Thanks for a great blog and the encouragement you give to the guys who serve in small communities.

  11. I have long known how much of a Godly man Bro. Gene is. I was never a member of his church, but growing up in Gleason, everyone knew everyone. Bro. Gene gain my respect in many ways. He was always the same person in the suit, behind the pulpit, in his jeans, around town, where ever he was, it did not matter.
    I have also been on staff at a rural church. I understand the stress and strain that can be every present some days. It helped me to gain an even great respect for the thousand of “Rural Route” pastors aroudn the world.

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