Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama in the sixties and seventies provided an interesting life for a young boy. Back in those days the Crimson Tide was good in football nearly every year As a young boy and a teenager life was good. We didn’t have a lot in our family, but we loved one another and life was fun. My life was pretty much consumed by football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and going to church. At the old Woodlawn church on First Avenue (now Roebuck Parkway) in Birmingham we had old fashion Gospel meetings every summer. The meetings always lasted from Sunday morning until either Friday or Saturday night. The meetings were preceded by weeks of planning and work. We put bumper stickers on our vehicles, signs in our yards, and posters everywhere. For at least two Saturdays before the meetings started we would meet at the building and filter out in neighborhoods around our part of Birmingham to hang door hangers or hand out invitations to the meeting. In addition, there were always work days to clean the buildings and grounds in preparation for the meetings. Of course, there was always Sunday dinner on the ground (fellowship meal for you younger readers!) and meals each night prepared by the “Church Zone Groups.” But, what I remember most about those meetings was the preaching. We had great preachers, dynamic men who boldly proclaimed God’s Word.
Some of the men who preached during those years were Gus Nichols, Guy N. Woods, Willard Collins, Batsell Barrett Baxter, V.P. Black, Charles Coil, Jimmy Allen, Elijah Bush, Thomas B. Warren, and Charles Coil. There were a couple of men who seemed to come and preach in meetings more than any others. They were brother Eddie Cloer and brother Harold Taylor. I vividly remember brother Harold coming to preach in meetings for a number of reasons. One year he brought his sons, Greg and Brad with him. I remember how much fun it was hanging out with those two guys during that week. We spent a lot of time together and I loved it. The other reason I remember those meetings so well is because of the preaching of brother Taylor. This preacher from Texas held me spell bound as a young man who wanted to preach some day (by the way, he still holds me spell bound with his preaching). He had a powerful command of Scripture and the English language. He delivered the Word of God with great passion and compassion. Many people responded when he preached the Word.
Harold G. Taylor was born and raised in Indiana where one of his passions in his formative years was basketball. He was a great basketball player making all-state and for many years holding scoring records for the state of Indiana. In his teenage years brother Taylor was encouraged by members of his home congregation to make talks and before long to preach sermons. He received his education at David Lipscomb University where he further prepared himself to preach. In 1953 brother Taylor married Betty and to this wonderful union three children were born (one daughter & two sons). They also have seven grandchildren and two great grandchilden. All of the Taylor’s children are faithful servants in the Lord’s Kingdom which is a wonderful tribute to the work they have done. Brother Taylor was encouraged to preach by his parents and members of the church where he grew up. In his early years of preaching he was encouraged by listening to men like Ira North, Batsell Barrett Baxter, and Carroll Ellis. Brother Taylor’s first preaching was done in his home state of Indiana, in the Martinsburg congregation and the Central church in Bedford.
In addition to these congregations brother Taylor has preached for the Northridge church in Dayton, Ohio, the Sunset church in Lubbock (on two separate occasions), and Walnut Hill in Dallas. After working with the Walnut Hill congregation brother Harold spent about fifteen years in evangelistic work conducting Church Growth/Leadership/Evangelism Seminars, as well as Spiritual Growth Seminars, Gospel Meetings, and assisting congregations in many ways. This work was done under the oversight of the West Erwin Church in Tyler. Brother Taylor has preached in thirty-six states and fifteen foreign countries.
In 1997 the Lewisville church (north of Dallas) was started by about 120 members. After using men in the congregation and other area preachers for a short time brother Taylor was asked to preach regularly for this young, growing church. Brother Taylor left the road and became the first full time preacher for the Lewisville church until the summer of 2004. He continues to serve as an elder for the Lewisville church and continues to faithfully preach the Word of God in many places.
When asked why he believes preaching is so important in our day brother Taylor responded by saying: “(1) God’s plan has always been a preaching plan, (2) The Gospel, entrusted to earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7-8) is God’s power to save, transform, comfort & prepare men for Heaven (Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 1:1-6; 3:17-18; Col. 1:12), and (3) God as no plan B.”
I asked brother Taylor to give some advice to young preachers concerning the preparation and the presentation of sermons. Discussing sermon preparation brother Taylor said, “First, seek personal spiritual growth in your own life. We are the aroma! (Acts 4:14; 20:32; 2 Cor. 2:14-17; 3:1-18; 2 Peter 3:18) Second, live among the people all week. It will aid in your preparing live sermons for real people on Sunday. Know not only Peter, James, and John, but Tom, Dick, and Harry. Be fresh relevant and practical! Give people bread rather than stones; truth wrapped in love (Eph. 4:15). Third, Keep studying. Keep preparing new sermons. Don’t get stale! Don’t get lazy!”
Here is advice brother Taylor gives concerning the actual delivery of sermons. “Preach with passion; speak with conviction. Don’t sound like you are selling boiled okra rather than the Gospel - the greatest news on earth. Set the church afire! Remember, a dead head in the pulpit will put dead wood in the pew! Modulate your voice; vary the pitch and intensity. Sometimes speak softly and at other times louder for emphasis. Monotone preachers put their audiences in slumberland. Make sure your gestures and facial expression complement rather than distract from the point you are making.”
Brother Harold Taylor has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus for more than fifty years. He continue to influence numerous people through his life and teaching. Brother Taylor’s long-time friend, and an elder in the church for many years, Liniel Click said of brother Taylor, “Being associated with him early in my life caused me to get my Spiritual life going in the right direction." Brother Click spoke of how brother Taylor trained him to do personal work. He said that it took four tries but brother Taylor finally was able to convince him to finish the Person to Person Class. Brother Taylor has trained hundreds of Christians to teach others through his Person to Person material. When brother Click spoke of brother Taylor's preaching he said that he was always very current and that he understood what was going on in society and the church. He spoke of his ability to relate those current events to the lives of people of all ages.
Brother Taylor’s son, Greg, said of his father that what he said in the pulpit and the way he lived his life were always the same. He said that as strong as his message was, his life was that strong as well. He remembered, "the depth of his message," and that "he was always in the meat of the Word."
My life has been blessed by the preaching and the life of Harold Taylor for many years. We praise God for his life and his preaching. I am thankful that I continue to be influenced by him as a shepherd and a Christian gentleman.
The sermon, “Servanthood: The Jesus Style” is an outstanding example of the type of sermon brother Taylor has preached for many years. He still hand writes his sermons. This is the type of sermon that will cause the church to grow and be strengthened in the Lord. May God raise up more Gospel preachers like Harold G. Taylor.