Sunday, December 11, 2011

Worship in a small church

This past Sunday I visited a small, rural church pastored by a bivocational minister.  I always enjoy the opportunities I have to visit this church because I am blessed every time I'm there.  So much is written today about everything a church needs to do to attract people that it is easy for one to assume if a church isn't doing these things it can't grow.  That simply isn't the case.  Yes, in some churches there is a need for innovative worship, but there is also a need for those churches who continue to worship as they have for years.  And...these churches can grow.  The church I visited has more than doubled in size since this pastor began there about 4 years ago.

The pastor isn't seminary trained.  The church has no choir or video equipment.  Congregational singing is led by the pianist.  There are no worship bulletins.  During the pastoral prayer people shared various prayer needs they knew about and mentioned those who were doing better since the previous Sunday.  After the congregational singing ended the pianist asked if anyone had special music they wanted to do.  When no one volunteered, the pastor picked up his guitar and sang a beautiful song.  The message was simple but challenging.  No bells, no whistles, no frills.

Some may wonder why the church has grown.  I believe there are several reasons for such growth.  One, the pastor is a humble man who has told me several times how surprised he is that God had called him to pastor a church.  He loves the people, and they know it.  Two, the people there love God and one another.  One can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in the building, and at the end of the service no one is in a hurry to leave.  Three, the people who attend there are willing to work hard to serve others.  Several from that church recently joined other churches in their association to provide a Christmas party to a group of patients at a hospital.  Because of work their pastor couldn't be there this year, but that didn't stop them.  They spent an afternoon with some people who probably won't have much of a Christmas except for what these churches brought them.

There is a need for those churches who are able to offer a more modern worship experience, but there is also a need for those churches who continue to offer a more traditional experience.  The most important thing about the worship in your church is not that it is modeled after the latest book but that it allows the people who attend your church to experience God in a meaningful way.  I believe such services honor God, and the service I attended this week did that. 

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