Mike Cope's blog

Friday, July 16, 2004

Jim Woodroof. For some reason, my few hours in Searcy this week got me to thinking about Jim Woodroof. He was preaching for the College Church when Diane and I were students there. He changed our lives. He gave me a vision for preaching--a vision of drawing people into the topsy-turvy world of scripture. A world where the first are last and the last are first. A world where blessings are announced on the poor in spirit and the meek. A world where submission trumps dominance and serving trumps power. No student had to feel bad that Jim didn't remember their name . . . because he couldn't remember anyone's name. He was an equal opportunity forgettor. But all knew that he loved them and wanted them to give their lives to Jesus. I remember him saying that he wanted to be with Jesus so much that he thought he'd go to hell if he found out that Jesus was there. He loved 2 Corinthians and John's gospel. He preached them with passion and gospel-formed insight. When I grow up, I want to be like him.


  • Mike, thank you for voicing what so many of us feel who were here at Harding in the 70's! Another line I heard him say was this: "I decided a long time ago to put my anchor in Jesus, and let Him take me where ever
    He wanted me to go." And Jim has! He has been like a father to so many of us, and his mentoring has been a precious blessing that I will always cherish. Every generation has a few that over time prove to be a cut above the rest as far as the impact they have for the Lord, and Jim is certainly one of those from his generation.

    There are many good reasons for living in Searcy, but I want to stay here a long time for no other reason than this: Jim Woodroof is in this place. He was the first minister to get me to focus on Jesus, and he is STILL doing that 30 years later. I love him much!

    Even if he still doesn't remember my name! :)

    By Blogger David U, at 7/16/2004 06:48:00 AM  

  • I've only seen Jim once, earlier this year at ACU's lecturship in the ICOC and COC forum. The love and grace of Christ was evident in all that he said and did. I could tell that this man desired the unity of Christ and was truly sorry for the divisions and sins that the ICOC and mainline COCs had brought about between each other. He must be a great man, because so many of the exemplars of ministry in our fellowship have learned from him.

    I hope you, Mike, know that you already are the same kind of person to many as Jim was to you at Harding. From a young age at Youth in Action in Birmingham, AL, you impressed me with your honesty and grace, sharing with 3000 teenagers about the lessons you learned through the life and death of Megan. I remember having your controversal article from Wineskins ("Christians Only, but Not the Only Christians") passed along to me so that I could be aware of the "false teaching" coming out of Abilene. Well, the plans of the person who passed the article on to me backfired. I was changed by the article and began my quest towards the grace and love of God that creates unity in the Body of Christ, not division. Thanks for taking riskes, exposing your views for all to see, so that many can be drawn to Christ by your example.

    By Blogger Travis, at 7/16/2004 09:05:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Sara, at 7/16/2004 09:05:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Sara, at 7/16/2004 09:06:00 AM  

  • I would echo the comments already made about Jim – He was one mentor, among others, in my first years of ministry when he was working in Burlington, MA. Those were crazy days when Jim and I were some of the only “mainstream” ministers who attended the monthly Boston area Church of Christ minister’s meeting in 1986 - the rest of the crowd was from the Boston Church.

    We both knew that there was something exciting about the Boston work but yet there was an edge to their message and their actions that left us feeling uneasy. As time passed it became apparent that legalism and a “Jesus + something else” salvation was what they were offering.

    And while he appeared to be the absent-minded professor at times – he recognized legalistic heresy when he saw it and led us in trying to help the spiritually wounded that left the Boston movement in droves.

    As an impressionable young preacher I remember with fondness sitting in a pizza joint and Jim telling me that if our focus is on Jesus – everything else will work itself out. It had a profound effect on the way I preach even till today.

    Thanks Mike for bringing back a flood of really great memories.

    By Blogger J A Pierpont, at 7/16/2004 10:03:00 AM  

  • "The gospels give you the power to do what is in the letters," Jim would often say. That one statement changed the way I approached scripture beginning as a freshman at Harding. He redefined for me what being a "gospel preacher" was all about in the mid to late 70's. He preached (and still does) a "living Jesus." I will never forget one time when he was so moved by the worship, that he decided to save his sermon of the day for another time, and encouraged the congregation to continue praising God. When he talked about his missionary days in New Zealand, he told the stories as if he had been an apostle sent by Jesus.

    One of the beautiful things about Jim was also witnessing how he treated his kids. To see him hug Tim, David, and Jon (I didn't know the girls) and tell them he loved him, even when others were looking, was a stark contrast to many fathers of that day. He exuded love! Yes, there are those that want to "Be like Mike," but what a challenge to "live like Jim."

    By Blogger David Michael, at 7/16/2004 10:18:00 AM  

  • I don't know what happened earlier, I posted, it posted twice, and then took both away. Let me try to reword my comment.

    Jim didn't only make a difference in Searcy, but also in Muskogee, OK. When I was in middle school, Jim and Louine moved to Muskogee to work with a newly forming congregation. They were instrumental in developing this church and nurturing it in the beginning years. They ministered and cared for so many families. Mine included. I will never forget Jim and the way that he walked beside my dad through a very difficult time in his life and the life of our family. He was a true friend, one that listened but also challenged people to love Jesus and get things right. As I began my freshman year at Harding, he was a Godsend to our family and my dad again, as my dad dealt with leaving his firstborn daughter at college on her own. I will never forget Jim and Louine, the love they shared, they way they never give up hope, and how they truly lived their lives in the image of Jesus.

    By Blogger Sara, at 7/16/2004 10:40:00 AM  

  • Bless you Mike! Your words are so well crafted and have transported me back to College Church mid 70's. Coming out of a very conservative Mississippi church background, Jim Woodroof was the first person to show me a new way to look at Jesus other than the way I had learned growing up in my home church. (Even different than I learned in New Testament Survey!)

    Others followed, a good man named David kept the seed alive while I survived medical school. Max Lucado's writings taught me how to blend emotion into the "logical" faith of my childhood. Being intoduced to the Zoe family a few years ago has been such an encouragement to know... well to know that my wife and I are not alone!

    Thank you again for bringing back those good memories of
    Jim's lessons at College Church.

    By Blogger Lee, at 7/19/2004 07:10:00 PM  

  • Mike, I have no idea why I decided to go to your blog this morning. I was at Brandon's blog and saw your link. I read your words about Jim W. and I was so touched by what you wrote about a man I utterly adore. Thank you for sharing such generous thoughts.

    By Blogger julie woodroof, at 7/22/2004 06:40:00 AM  

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