Preachers didn’t have an easy lot in Nebraska’s early days. A goodly portion of our citizens
were what we now call “the unchurched”–at best they were apathetic to the aims of organized
religion. Building a congregation was sometimes as difficult as building a church. One
Missouri man of the cloth attracted members by meeting them on their own terms, and their
own turf. His actions were suggested as a model to Nebraska ministers.
“Reverend Lytle. . .was a preacher that took charge of the Methodist church at Carrollton
when it was at low ebb and before he left the pastorate there for another charge he had the
largest congregation of any church in town. He is a great mixer, and would stop on the
streets and talk to the boys like he was one of them. Everybody learned to love and respect
“One day he stopped on the corner and spoke to a crowd of young men who never attended
any church. He said, ‘Boys, I want you to come to church tomorrow.’ ‘All right,’ spoke up the
ring leader, ‘if you’ll go over to the saloon yonder and take a drink with us we will pledge you
right here and now to come out to church tomorrow and listen to you preach. We think you
are a good fellow and we want you to drink with us. Will you go?’
“‘Why of course I’ll go,’ and Rev. Lytle followed the crowd into the saloon, to the amazement
of some of the bystanders who likewise followed the crowd into the saloon to see what was
up. The leader asked the preacher what he would have. Rev. Lytle told the boys that he
would make his order last.
“All the boys called for whiskey, and every eye turned to the minister, as he said, with one
hand on the bar, ‘Give me a drink of cold water, one of God’s greatest and best gifts to man.’
He drank the water and left.
“The boys remained to talk it over. True to their word, they attended church the next day, and
became loyal followers of the preacher who took a drink.” –Nebraska City News