Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The family church

This past Sunday my wife and I visited a small church pastored by a bivocational friend of mine who is about to graduate from our judicatory's school for lay leaders.  In my workshop on healthy small churches I talk about the strengths and weaknesses of family churches.  As I sat there Sunday morning I left like I was sitting at a family dinner where everyone was trying to catch up on everything that had happened since the last time they were together.  There was no rush to get to the next item in the bulletin (there was no bulletin) as most of the people attending had something to add during the prayer and praise time of the service.  It felt comfortable, and good, and warm.  The music was good as was the message.  I can see why people want to go there every week for fellowship and worship.

It is easy to become critical of smaller churches, especially when we focus on the things we think they lack.  Some do have their problems, there is no doubt about that, but there are others like the one I attended Sunday that are providing good ministry to their members and community.  We need to recognize and celebrate these churches when we find them.  As I left the service I told the pastor, "I am so proud of you guys."

I doubt this church will ever add a video system to their service mainly because the way their sanctuary is built I don't believe one would work well in their setting.  Chances are they won't go to a contemporary service so they aren't likely to attract a lot of Christian rocker teens unless those young people are looking for someone who will love them and care for them like family.  They are not going to get political during this election cycle so they won't create a lot of spectacular headlines.  What they will do is go to the nursing homes in the area and minister to the residents there.  They will go to a nearby mental health facility and take Christmas presents to the patients and sing carols and share a Christmas dinner with them.  They will join other churches in their association and go to the Appalachia area of Eastern Kentucky next spring and hold a weekend revival for one of the churches in that area.  In short, they will share the gospel with everyone who will listen and love anyone who will accept their love.  My friends, in my book that's not bad ministry for any church.

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