History of the Restoration Movement

Paul Earl Rogers


Life of Paul Rogers

Paul Earl Rogers was born in Birmingham, Alabama, August 31, 1934. He was the son of Andy Woodville Rogers (1885-1943) of McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee, and Annie Folsom Thorne Rogers (1893-1984) of Cuba, Sumter County, Alabama.

Paul attended Lipscomb University where he received the B.A. degree. Later, he attended Harding School of Theology in Memphis, where he received the M.A. While in school his began preaching at Old Jefferson church of Christ in Smyrna, Tennessee from 1952-1956. This is where he met and married Judith Ann “Judy” Johns (b.1936) on December 31, 1955. They had four children, Emily Rogers Webber, Susan Rogers Harber, Larry and David.

After college he worked with the youth in the church of Christ in Lewisburg, Tennessee. Then, in January of 1957 the Rogers moved to Centerville, Tennessee to begin a work with the congregation on Main St., and for the next 48 years he ministered to this congregation. Over the years, the church grew from 250 to 800 in membership. From 1986 to 2003 he served on the Board of Director. He preached in several foreign missions, in India and in countries of the former Soviet Union. He authored 10 books and booklets, and organized the annual Middle Tennessee Preacher’s Forum. In 1975 he was awarded Alumnus of the Year from Harding Graduate School. Then, in 1982 Lipscomb University awarded him as Alumnus of the Decade. He was one of the Gospel Advocate’s 100 Trailblazers of the 20th century. In 2002 he received the Diakonia award for 50 years of preaching, and with his wife, Lipscomb University’s Barnabas Award.

Paul Rogers loved to preach, and was referred to by some as the “Dean of Preachers.” He loved preachers, talked about preachers, wrote on preaching, and admonished preachers throughout his life.

Suffering from heart problems, he passed away in his 70th year. Burial followed at the old cemetery on the hill in Centerville, Tennessee.

-Scott Harp, March 24, 2023

Sources: Gospel Advocate, February, 2005, page 41; Christian Chronicle, January 25, 2005; Ancestry.com; Find-A-Grave.

Source: Ancestry.com / TammySComer

by Paul Rogers

These words of truth and encouragement were shared with preaching students at Freed-Hardeman University and Magnolia Bible College.

In an age of quitting and complaining, let the word go forth that "it's great to be a preacher!" I never recall a moment in my life that preaching the Gospel of Christ was not viewed as the highest and best use one could make of mortal life. My father, now 50 years in eternity, would hold me in his arms as an infant and whisper, "This one's my preacher." And my mother, shortly before her homegoing at age 90, wrote, "I am glad we have a preacher in the family."

When I entered college, I was sure that nothing in all the universe was so high, holy, and heavenly as the world of an evangelist. I beamed with pure delight when someone would say, "Son, I hear you are going to be a preacher." It was a tap on the shoulder, a heaven-sent task above and beyond all other human undertakings. As Batsell Barrett Baxter reminded us, "God had only one Son, and he was a preacher!" John Wyclif added 600 years ago, "The highest service men may attain to on earth is to preach the word of God." Young men now entering the ministry need to be reminded by those of us now in the autumn of our lives that "it's great to be a preacher!"

Devoting one’s life to the full-time service of God is no easy matter, and only real men should apply. N. B. Hardeman was fond of saying that it is not a tub of butter to sit down in! Rather, it may well be the single most trying of all life's undertakings. It is to experience life at its best and worst, to be surrounded by all things bright and beautiful while also attracting to one's self all the "nuts and bolts" of the community. But "it's great to be a preacher!"

I have served as the full-time pulpit minister of but one congregation, now in my 38th year of service. It has been a total experience!

* I have pled with people not to kill others and not to kill themselves.

* I have stood by the side of more than 700 open graves with a Bible in my hand.

* I have preached and preached and preached... and if all the words I have uttered in the Centerville pulpit were transcribed, they would fill no fewer than 350 novels of average size.

* I have been treated far better than I could ever have expected...and, on occasion, far worse.

* I have been loved by almost everybody and loathed by a few. I have been helped by the many, heckled by a handful.

* I know something of what Winston Churchill meant when he said, "There is no more exhilarating feeling on earth than to be shot at without results!”

As the years roll away, everything will happen to you.

* One citizen in our community commented that she had rather hear a dog bark than to hear Paul Rogers preach, while another insisted I was the best preacher she had ever heard. I decided the truth lay somewhere in between those extremes!

* One person avowed that I sounded like that golden-tongued orator, Batsell Barrett Baxter, while another said I would be a good preacher if I had a better voice. Once again, the truth lies somewhere between those extremities!

* Once, in a distant city, a stranger asked if I was Billy Graham ... and once an airline stewardess mistook me for Paul Harvey!

* Once, in the wee hours of the morning, a prostitute called to confess her sins. And once in the night I was startled and awakened by an unbalanced man who practically broke the door off the hinges.

* Once I counseled a young couple, only to have the husband go out and shoot a bullet through her head. And once I co-signed a bank note which, in turn, I was called upon to pay off. And once I received a threatening letter promising to "blow up the building and shoot [my] head off."

But, through it all, "it's great to be a preacher!" I have spoken in 20 states and six foreign countries to audiences as small as six and as large as 3,000. I have preached where I received more pay by far than I was worth, and I have preached where I received no pay whatsoever. In earlier years I conducted any number of gospel meetings where, with the expenses factored in, I was poorer when I returned home than when I left.

* I have been encouraged, discouraged, heartened, and disheartened, higher than the housetop, lower than the basement.

* I have seen the best of men go bad and the worst of men become good. I have seen marriages collapse which seemed to have been made in heaven, and marriages endure which held no promise whatsoever of success.

I have come to believe that more raw courage is required to be a local minister than to play professional football or enter a boxing ring. And I have come to believe that the man who stands before an audience on an errand of divine truth is doing the single most important thing ever done on this planet. "It's great to be a preacher!"

Why is it great to be a preacher? Four reasons stand out. First, because it casts one into the midst of the very best people on Earth. In a single chapter (Romans 16), Paul calls the names of 35 friends and supporters. And every man of God from then to now has had his own list. I have been through four decades of time upheld, uplifted, inspired and enabled by saints on higher ground. One brother with whom I have but a slight acquaintance whispered in my ear recently, "Paul Rogers, I pray for you every day." What a blessedness, what a peace divine! "It's great to be a preacher!"

Second, it enables one to participate in the age-long struggle for the minds of men. There are, of course, those who lament "the passing of the parson," who are sure that preaching is sick unto death and who are confident that what we say on Sunday has little influence over what men do on Monday. But do not believe it! Preaching is alive and well, able to convict, convince, convert, and change the hearts of men anywhere and everywhere.

The preaching of Noah saved the world. The preaching of Jonah revived a heathen nation. The preaching of Ezra brought Israel back to God to await the coming of His Son. The preaching of John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord. And the preaching of the apostles toppled an empire. The power of public proclamation was such that it would "turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God" (Acts 26:18). So effective were these early evangelists that Julian, the pagan emperor, was said to have assembled the pagan priests of Rome and instructed them to "preach every week, as the Christians do.”

To stand in the pulpit of a church week after week, surrounded by a sea of uplifted faces, is to be fairly overwhelmed with the human drama therein revealed.

A few pews from the front sits a young man struggling with homosexual desires ... Across the aisle is a couple contemplating divorce ... Just behind them is a lady whose life is secretly, but systematically, being destroyed by alcohol... And seated at the rear is a young mother fighting a daily battle with cancer. I have but to look up and look out to know why I chose the ministry and why I have stayed with it. The changing of lives and the shaping of character is our purpose and prayer. "It's great to be a preacher!"

Third, a local minister is permitted to participate personally in the life of a growing church. The congregation I have served since college days has grown in membership from 311 to 800, in attendance from 325 to 650, in annual gifts from $20,000 to $450,000, and in property value from $25,000 to $5 million. Best of all, approximately 2,000 persons have responded publicly. I wish there had been more, but I am grateful for each one. In many respects my life has been like a man that of a man who keeps a diary, intending to write one story but, in looking back, finds that he wrote another.

I never saw an old lamplighter, but in the days before electricity in our great cities, he would be seen at dusk with his lighter and ladder, moving from post to post and lamp to lamp, lighting each one. When he had gone, few people knew his name or his destination, but everyone knew where he had been by the trail of brightness he left behind. That must be the aim of every gospel preacher: to leave behind when the day is done a distinct trail of brightness. "It’s great to be a preacher!

Fourth, preaching ought to help a man save his own immortal soul. We live among the best people, have our eyes upon the best Book, keep our feet in all the best places, and our hands at the best tasks. What more could a man ask for? Surely, there is a special place in hell for all those whose journey to perdition took them through the pulpit of a church!

Many years ago, a student asked the famous British pulpiteer, G. Campbell Morgan, this question: "If God knew what was in man, why did He choose Judas Iscariot?" To this the venerable old man responded, "Son, I don't know the answer, but here is an even greater mystery to me: Why did God choose G. Campbell Morgan?" That is how I feel. Why did God tap on the shoulder of a teen-age boy and enable him to be a preacher of His Word? I do not know, but I am glad He did. "It's great to be a preacher!"

This article was printed with the permission of Paul Rogers, minister of the Church of Christ in Centerville, TN.

Special Thanks: to Steve Kirby for sharing the above track by Paul Rogers at a 3rd Monday Preacher’s Workshop of Nashville area preachers in March, 2023. It was at Hilldale church of Christ Clarkesville, Tennessee. Thanks to Steve Kirby for sharing this with the preachers. One other point. When he shared it, he said he kept this little tract close to him so that on days when he got a little discouraged or down, he pulled this out and read it to remind him of what a blessing it is to preach the gospel.

Rogers Leaves Legacy Of Ministry, Service

With the death of Paul Rogers on Jan. 6, Lipscomb University and the Middle Tennessee community lost a good friend.

Mr. Rogers devoted his life to preaching, spending 48 years serving the Centerville church of Christ in Hickman County, Tenn.

A native of Birmingham, Ala,, Mr. Rogers preached his first sermon in August 1952 for his home church, Central church of Christ. He enrolled at Lipscomb University that fall and began preaching every Sunday for the Old Jefferson church in Smyrna, Tenn., until he graduated from Lipscomb in 1956. At Old Jefferson he met lady Johns and married her in 1955. After graduation they worked with the youth at the church in Lewisburg. Tenn., before accepting the job in Centerville. He began preaching there in January 1957 and never left.

"You won't find a better example of what it means to be Christ like than Paul Rogers. He was involved in people's lives visiting the sick, helping the poor, counseling the brokenhearted, celebrating victories. It didn't matter if they were from his church or not. That was the example Christ set in the New Testament, and he was determined to emulate his Master in every respect," said Dr. Stephen F. Flatt, Lipscomb University president.

"Paul's ministry at Centerville church of Christ has been a model for small-town churches - even churches in large communities - across the nation. His service as a member of the Board of Trustees at Lipscomb helped to enhance our premier academic program, but always kept us focused on the spiritual roots of our mission. He epitomized the concept of servant leadership. There is a hole in the world tonight because of the passing of Paul Rogers."

Mr. Rogers' impact at Centerville and in Hickman County was far-reaching. While at Centerville the congregation grew from 325 members to more than 800, a new church building was constructed in 1966, Camp Meribah, a church camp valued at $1 million, opened in 1969; a $200,000 Outreach Center for benevolence and senior citizens work opened in 1980 and a 75-unit, $2.5 million apartment complex, Tulipwood, opened for senior citizens.

Throughout the years. Mr. Rogers was a mentor to others.

“When I was a college student I preached at a small congregation in Hickman County Paul was an inspirational mentor to me. He was the 'Dean of Preachers." He was encouraging and supportive of me in every way. He truly loved to preach and had a way of making others appreciate that calling," said Walt Leaver, Lipscomb University vice president
for university relations and pulpit minister at Brentwood Hills church of Christ in Nashville.

Mr. Rogers also dedicated much time in service to Lipscomb University. He joined the board of trustees in 1986 and remained a member until health issues necessitated his retirement from the board in 2003. He served under three administrations: Willard Collins, Harold Hazelip and Steve Flatt. For much of his tenure, he chaired the board's Academic Affairs Committee, helping to ensure that Lipscomb's mission of integrating Christian faith and practice with academic excellence was accomplished throughout the curriculum.

"Paul was a gentle, good man. He was the embodiment of humble Christian service. I deeply valued his friendship. His loyalty to Lipscomb added credibility to our claim to be a genuinely Christian institution," said Hazelip, Lipscomb University chancellor who served as president from 1986-1997.

"As a preacher, his example of working for decades in the same community has inspired many fellow preachers to pursue long term service with one congregation.

Paul will be very difficult to replace, both in Centerville and in the brotherhood at large."
Mr. Rogers was presented the “Diakonia Award” at Lipscomb in 2003 to recognize his 50 years in ministry. He and his wife, Judy, were also presented the university’s "Barnabas Award" in honor of their service and encouragement to the church. Last year, university officials announced plans to honor Mr. Rogers in its new Bible Building by naming a selected area the "Paul Rogers Board Room."

Mr. Rogers is survived by his wife of 50 years, Judy (Johns) Rogers: sons, Larry and David Rogers; daughters Susan (Rogers) Harber and Emily (Rogers) Webber; a brother, Maurice Rogers; sisters, Madelyn (Rogers) Poole and Jeanette (Rogers) Lowe and eight grandchildren.


The Torch, p.8

Directions To Grave

Paul Rogers is buried in the Centerville City Cemetery. In west Tennessee, from I-40 take the 148, and head south on Hwy. 50 for about 20 miles. When 50 dead's end. Turn left on Linden Rd. The road will begin to ascend up a hill into town. Turn right on Briggs St. At the end of Briggs St. Turn right into the cemetery and head to the big tree and park. Look down through the cemetery toward the rear, to the far southwest corner (rear) of the cemetery to find the Rogers family plot. The GPS below is the actual location of the grave.

GPS Location
35°46'34.6"N 87°27'57.3"W
or D.d. 35.776267,-87.465916

Park at tree in the distance and walk down to SW corner to Rogers plot

Rogers Plot in far corner - upper center of photo above

Rogers Plot in far corner - upper center of photo above

Rogers Plot in far corner - upper center of photo above

From Roger plot back toward entrance

Benjamin F. III - December 31, 1935 - ????
Mary Nelle Bassett - October 13, 1939 - ????

B. Freeman Jr. - February 22, 1907 - December 20, 1975
Mary Wilder Rogers - August 29, 1909 - January 26, 1999

The highest service men may attain to on earth is to preach the Word of God - John Wycliffe
Minister of the Centerville church of Christ 1957-2005
Paul E. Rogers - August 31, 1934 - January 6, 2005
Judy Johns Rogers - September 23, 1936 - ????

Photos Taken 02.16.2023
Webpage produced 03.14.2023
Courtesy Of Scott Harp


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