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Alum Moves from the Cowboys to God’s CallingWhen Allan Stanglin was a little boy, folks would pat him on the shoulder and tell him he'd be a preacher some day.
This visionary encouragement followed him through his adolescence when he would lead a song on Wednesday night or say the closing prayer.
It came from his parents, grandparents and leaders of his home congregation (Pleasant Grove Church of Christ), some of whom even offered to pay his way to preaching school.
But Allan had a different vision. Sports media.
When he was in seventh grade, he told his sister Rhonda that his dream life would be to lead singing and teach a Bible class at his local congregation...and then cut out of the building and head to Texas Stadium to do play-by-play commentary for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoons.
This isn't exactly a never-say-never story. Allan never said he would not preach, but he did not head to Oklahoma Christian in the mid-1980s seeking a Bible degree either.
In fact, he is a little sheepish when he looks back on his OC years.
"Every time someone approaches me with, 'Hey, I ran into somebody who knows you!' I always pray silently, 'Please not somebody from OC, please not somebody from OC.' But the more I learn about our God, the more I realize he does this kind of thing all the time," Allan said.
Without elaborating (and why should we?), Allan says he understands why his fellow alumni react in surprise when they learn he is a minister now, even though his parents and elders always knew he would be.
But that is getting ahead of the story.
After graduation in 1989, and for the next 19 years, he gave sports reporting all he had. And it eventually sent him to Texas Stadium after church services on Sundays to cover his beloved Cowboys.
It even got him on the team plane. He also scored post-game locker room access to the Dallas Mavericks and an open microphone to analyze, pontificate and talk sports, sports and more sports in several Texas radio markets.
"I got paid to give my opinion, and to think about sports. How great is that?" he said.
Most notably, Allan served as sports director for the Texas Rangers' flagship station, KRLD. On his blog, allanstanglin.com, he says "working for and with the Rangers every single day for five years would drive most people straight into 12-step counseling programs. It drove me into the ministry."
Along the way, Allan built his own team. He married Carrie-Anne Rowland and they have three "wonderfully perfect" daughters: Whitney (15), Valerie (12) and Carley (9).
Together, Team Stanglin tentatively answered the call leading Allan to ministry. He had always remained active in his local congregation, all the while growing spiritually. He did more speaking, and was getting the questions again, "Why don't you preach?"
All along, Allan said he sought to glorify God on the airwaves. He had his own bully pulpit for God where he could keep things positive, not tolerate profanity and share his faith. But eventually, he realized he was justifying not making a change.
While Allan, Carrie-Anne and the girls remained prayerful and tentative about him going back to school for more training to go into ministry, things started falling into place...in spite of their hesitancy.
Before he knew it, he was accepted in 2005 to Austin Graduate School of Theology in Austin, Texas, given a part-time ministry job and offered a place to live. Even before he finished school, he found himself in the pulpit fulltime.
The Stanglins had previously lived in Austin, and worshipped with the Marble Falls congregation where Allan was a deacon. He made a call to the church office on the "off chance" his former congregation would be willing to support him as he went to Austin Grad.
"I walked into an elders meeting. And sitting there was Terry Johnson!" he said.
Johnson served as OC president for more than 20 years, including the years when Allan was a student. But Allan didn't need to sweat, because he soon was on staff at Marble Falls and taking plenty of good natured ribbing from Dr. Johnson about his days at OC.
Even before Allan completed his first year of graduate school, he was contacted by Legacy Church of Christ in North Richland Hills. The longtime congregation needed a new preaching minister.
Allan sent the only two tapes he had. And he was hired.
He still cannot believe it, calling the journey "weird and wonderful."
"I spent my first 40 years living for me. And I have asked God to give me another 40 years for him. That's our 40-40 deal," Allan said.
He said he regrets not answering God's call on his life much earlier, but also recognizes that his experiences have given him much perspective and lots of stories to tell. Not to mention, all of those broadcasting and writing classes back at OC helped him be comfortable in front of a crowd and able to tell a good story.
"That I was hired at Legacy tells me two things. One is they were desperate and scraping the bottom for a preacher! The other is that there is a shortage of decent preachers and that has to change," he said.
Unlike those who encouraged him as a young boy to follow the call to preach the gospel, Allan has observed that young men are not given that same encouragement anymore.
"I do try to encourage our young and talented men to consider preaching," he said. "It seems their parents and counselors and youth ministers and teachers usually are talking our best kids out of preaching by telling them they are too smart or talented or gifted and have more potential. But what could be a greater call? How could you be better than to be a proclaimer of the good news of salvation?"
Still, he has noticed that his audiences aren't always tuned in.
"When I decided to enter the ministry, my little brother (Dr. Keith Stanglin at Harding University) told me that it would be different," Allan said. "Fewer people would want to talk about what I do now that I'm preaching and not mapping out the NBA playoff brackets or breaking down the Cowboy's draft. He was right. He and I just sit on the couch together now at family gatherings and talk theology all by ourselves."
Ministry is work he describes as the most difficult he has ever undertaken, but by far, the most satisfying. Even better than a Sunday afternoon at Texas Stadium.
You can listen to Allan's sermons online at legacychurchofchrist.org.