Monday, April 30, 2012

The Little Church That Could


I have been privileged to serve as the Ambassador for the Olympic Baptist Association for the past year and a half and Moderator the two years prior to that.  My favorite part of those jobs has been the opportunity to get out and visit the churches of the association on a periodic basis.  With 18 churches to visit, we do not get to any of them very often, other than our home church.  But we do make it out often enough to be able to start to get to know the individual churches and some of their members.

All of our churches are different, with different worship styles, reaching a wide range of demographics, and of differing size and ministry opportunities.  But all of them give every indication to me that they are committed to representing Christ in the community they are in, and that they enjoy being together as a church.

This past Sunday Sue and I visited with what is arguably the smallest church in the association; and one that many would call the weakest and most insignificant.  This is a church that was on the verge of closing a year ago, deep in debt, with only a handful of members, and on the verge of losing their pastor.  Many people had written them off, giving them no chance of survival.

Today they are still very small, pastorless and weak, at least from a human perspective, and they may always be so.  But their transformation has been truly amazing to me.  In the past year they have taken stock of who they are, and what their purpose is in the Kingdom of God and their community.  They have taken ownership and responsibility for doing what needs to be done to become a church that makes a difference in their community.  The individual members have begun to reach outside of their comfort zones and dare to let God use them in new ways.  And I would venture to say that they are making much more of an impact in their community than most churches many times their size.

If you had been with them for the first time this past Sunday your reaction might have been dismissive; it’s obvious that they don’t know how to ‘do church’.  But, in my opinion, you would be dead wrong.  Because people are moving around and talking a lot, there are kids running around and dancing, because it is very informal and without a great deal of prior preparation, does not mean that they are not gathering as the body of Christ to worship and grow.  Their worship works for them, it appeals to the poor, the needy, and the unchurched in their community, and, most importantly, I believe that God is pleased and takes joy in their gatherings.

I am excited about what is happening in this little insignificant church, a church that like Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8 has little strength, but with an open door of ministry opportunity that they are marching through.  So, to Dave, Katy, Rose, Misty, Victor, and to all the other members of this blessed body, I encourage you to stay true to your calling, and to continue to show the rest of us how to ‘do church’.

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