Passing the Torch: Godly Influences

John Dobbs had the great idea to blog about ministers who have influenced us in our faith.  What a great way to give honor to whom honor is due and express gratitude to God and these godly men for their service in the Kingdom.

My sister wrote about our Dad HERE, so please read that, too.  There are many I could write about but chose one in particular.

Mike Tanaro (sorry, Trent, for stealing your preacher/dad) had been at the Lone Oak Church of Christ for a couple of years before we began attending. God was working on me, a 15 year old, and I had just been learning/beginning to pay better attention during the assembly and actually listen to the sermon.

Mike made it easier.

He was animated, loud at times, he paced all over, even standing among the youth group when they were talking and misbehaving.  We would occasionally have a “Preaching and Singing till Midnight” on a Friday night.  Those nights he would pace the entire auditorium as he taught.  I will always remember him preaching a series on the book of Romans that was easy to understand and fascinating. In fact, all his sermons were easy to follow and understand.  It was as if he was just talking to you about the Bible and Jesus.

I remember one time he was talking about Moses or someone lying prostrate on the ground, so he suddenly dropped down on his stomache, in the middle of a sentence!  That got everyone’s attention.  He had a lot of great catchphrases, some were probably learned at Sunset from Richard Rogers and others but I will always associate them with Mike Tanaro.

  • “We are saved to serve.  We serve to save.”
  • “You walk, He wipes”  comparing God’s grace to windshield wipers and sin as rain drops, talking about 1 John 1, as he walked across the stage and simulated wipers with his arms.
  • “Do what they did, get what they got”  teaching on the first Christians and salvation

Two more things someone reminded me of:  The regular “Bible checks.”  And when he asked a question during a sermon, he expected a response, and would shake his head up and and down, and side to side as he said, “This means yes, this means no.”

Even though I went through two Christian colleges and learned a lot as an associate minister in Italy, I picked up a few things subconsciously from Mike, although I will never be as good of a preacher.  I do pace occasionally and feel tied down when I don’t have a wireless microphone.  I don’t tell lots of stories or use long illustrations, trying to keep things simple and straightforward.  I wasn’t taught these things at Harding, but do them nonetheless.

God used Mike Tanaro at the right time in my life to create a love for the Word and preaching. Although most of his influence on me was from the pulpit, it certainly left a mark.

22 thoughts on “Passing the Torch: Godly Influences

  1. awgonnerman


    Due probably to the odd way I became a disciple I don’t really have a favorite preacher from a church setting. There were some influential professors, though. One was Gareth Reese at Central Christian College of the Bible, and the other (bigger influence still) was Jimmy Allen at Harding University. In the case of Jimmy I actually picked up some of his mannerisms for a while (like counting off my reasons for and against something).

  2. Awesome Brian. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never met Mike, but looking forward to that in Tulsa in a month or so. I also have never met Trent! Hey… you know I’ve heard other people brag on Mike Tanaro’s preaching so I know he is an awesome man of God. I thank you for sharing your story.

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  6. Thanks for letting us in on one of your heroes. I enjoyed learning how God brings young men to the decision to become preachers!

  7. Thanks Brian, awesome post on Dad. He is a true friend, dad, Christian, man of God and great preacher. He has taught me a lot on grace through his life and love for us kids and our mom!

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  9. Guest

    I actually grew up going to Lone Oak CoC (true story) and the leadership there were what convinced me that the bible could in no way be accurate, or what _they_ actually believed. If they did, they’d be breaking down doors in order to save people from hell. Their “flock” wouldn’t be placing their faith in the decisions of men. They wouldn’t be splitting hairs about instrumental music (there’s that great joke about the religions in heaven, and the ones who were the most upset were the CoC because they thought they’d be the only ones there). I remember so many times hearing the gossip and hatred that went on inside that congregation. I’m sure it’s the same in all of them, but that’s what you get when you put your faith in people who are merely men; men with addictions and multiple faces and agendas and racist leanings; men who could be no better or more selfishly motivated than those who authored their guide; men who fear progress; men who fear people knowing who they actually are. It’s a scary cult in my opinion, and I’m thankful I got out when I did.

  10. b

    I am sorry for your bad experience.
    I am not sure if you are you more upset with God or man??

    you are right, every congregation is full of sinners.
    and if man is all you have to put your trust in, you are truly hopeless.
    I am sorry you don’t believe and will pray for you, will pray that you come to know God for who He is and not who you think He should be, or who men say He is.

  11. James

    Is this the same Mike Tanaro that lived with the Wellers in the late 70’s and early 80’s? The one that started a new church in LaRue County? Why did he leave there and why did he leave Lone Oak?

  12. Trent Tanaro

    James. Yes that’s the same Mike. We have been all over Ky through the years. God has been good to our family!!

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