Fifty years ago today, Arthur Pigman took the pulpit for his first sermon in Lancaster, Ky.
“I was scared to death,” said Pigman, who has led Evans Church of Christ since 2003. “I had all of these notes ready and prepared. It was going to be a full-length sermon. I got up there and I spit it out and said it real fast. I got it done in 12 minutes.”
Pigman, who was only 18 then, plans to celebrate 50 years in the pulpit by returning to where he started.
“I am going to preach the same sermon,” Pigman said. “I have the sermon outline notes that I had.”
Pigman’s family and congregation also are celebrating his anniversary with a luncheon at the church.
Growing up in Kentucky, Pigman said his family attended numerous gospel meetings, revivals and tent meetings. It was exposure to all the different preachers that convinced Pigman he wanted to be one, too.
“When I was a little boy, I always said I was going to be a preacher,” Pigman said. “I just thought that was a wonderful thing to do and it was. I don’t remember saying anything else that I wanted to do.”
Watching the preachers work, Pigman said he tried to copy the charts many of them used during sermons. The use of visual aids made an impression and became something he incorporates into his own sermons.
In his years preaching at several churches in Kentucky and Tennessee, Pigman used chalkboards while preaching and then moved on to flannel boards and slide projectors. Video cameras, computers and Powerpoint, which he has used since 2004, make visual aids easy, Pigman said.
“I use it for every sermon because visual aids certainly helps the audience to be able to keep up, to learn and to listen,” Pigman said. “I’m teaching the Bible, which is the most important thing in the world. I want to use the best way of communicating to people.”
Pigman’s wife of 47 years, Charlotte, said her husband is meticulous and organized.
“He keeps good records,” she said. “We always have to build bookshelves.”
The bookshelves lining Pigman’s office are for his collection of sermon outline books. Outlines and notes from every sermon he’s preached are included in the 52 large binders. As of Monday, Pigman said he’s preached 5,861 sermons.
“When I first started, I didn’t keep very good, just real skimpy outlines,” Pigman said, “So if I ever want to preach them a second time, I’d have to go back and restudy.”
He also uses the record-keeping system to keep track of his favorite sermons for later use, to make sure he’s not repeating sermons in each church and to ensure he’s giving the 100-member congregation a well-rounded Biblical education.
“I try to look back at my sermons to make sure I’m preaching on all different subjects, not just one,” Pigman said. “Paul described it as ‘the whole council of God’.”
Pigman said he enjoys preaching in smaller churches because he can become a part of people’s lives. Pigman, a hobby carpenter, enjoys building wooden toys for the birthdays of youngsters in his church.
The hardest part is probably performing funerals, Pigman said. But weddings are always fun.
Pigman said he’s only been unable to preach a handful of Sunday sermons in his career.
At 68, he’s been blessed with good health and has no intention of retiring.
“As long as I am physically and mentally able, I’m planning to continue to preach.”