Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lessons Learned This Past Weekend

Matthew 16:18
......."Upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell will not conquer it."

Some of you may not know this, but I have been teaching at a small country church located up Highway 11 in Reece City. A good friend of mine, John Richey, was pastor there for a number of years, and last November he called me to let me know that he was stepping down because of health issues. He asked if I would consider filling in as teacher until the congregation could decide about what they wanted to do with their church. The number attending had dwindled down until they usually had between 10 and 15 on Sunday's. I agreed to step in and teach, not expecting that I would be the recipient of some incredible life lessons during my time there.

Lesson # 1- You can't always judge by what you see on the outside.
We have (maybe it's just me and not anyone else) a tendency to form opinions and judgments based on our own worldview, rather than seeing what God is doing.
It's easy to stand on the outside looking in and make assumptions.
"Bless their hearts...they are a small congregation that are not able to do what other
 churches (usually inferred as being compared to larger more affluent churches) are capable of doing."

In other words....the world bases success or failure on how big something is...number  wise. If there are a lot of folks attending a meeting, then it must be successful. If it has a large following, then it must be successful. Poor ol' Jesus...he managed to scrounge up 12 fishermen to start his movement with. His numbers changed from time to time, but at the most critical hour of his ministry, everyone ran away. Be careful in your criticism of other churches...you never know what God is truly doing until you know the hearts of the people.

Lesson # 2 -- Every church doesn't have to do the same things....in the same manner.
Yes...on Sunday mornings, we sing hymns.
Yes....these songs come from a "Bone-I-Fied" hard back hymnal complete with verses, choruses and the entire musical nomenclature that validates a song.
We have a pianist and an organist, complete with a worship leader who also does a special               number each week.
Personally I have re-discovered the beauty of hymns.... "Send A Great Revival" resonated last Sunday morning, and the words were more than just words...they were a heart cry from those of us
who'd gathered together.  We realized that any revival always begins with those who are praying and seeking God's heart for it.....in other words, if revival is to come, it has to start in our own               hearts.

Lesson #3 -- It's o.k. to be a laid-back, easy going group of folks.
There is an order to the service, but it isn't so regimented that there isn't room for some good ol' laughter and exchange of thoughts and observations.
One of my favorite part of the service each Sunday is the announcements. Really?Announcements? Yep! David Murdock is the resident announcer of coming events for the week, and without fail something that is shared is followed by a story, a joke, or a reference to something that took place in the past.

I could go on and on about the good folks at Northside Baptist but I will close with these thoughts.
Last year they set a goal to help support missions here in our nation. It was a reasonable goal that I thought might could be reached by these few who meet every Sunday morning. Would you believe that they collected three times what their goal was? They gave over and beyond and then some to send to help spread the gospel. But if you stood on the outside looking in, you'd think that this church was on its last legs. Be careful how you judge....

The last thing I'd like to share with you is how this group has a deep reverence for those who paved the way for them to be a church. They hold the founding members, and those who belonged to the church, with great respect. Each Sunday, someone will share a story about someone who was instrumental in the building of the church. Maybe a person whose faithfulness was a cornerstone to the life and health of the church. The group that meets every Sunday morning has a collective remembrance of their history and their heritage. They are proud of where they have come from, as a fellowship, and are proud of who they are today.

Small church? Yes....
But I do believe that some how, some way, God has plans for their future.
Don't know how it's going to happen, or how it will work out, but I do know that the Spirit of God shows up every Sunday morning when the doors are unlocked and the church enters that building.
I've written all this to get to this final point. I have been blessed to be accepted by the church family of Northside. As much as I'd like to think I've been a good teacher for them, truth is they have taught me far more than I anticipated. For that I will always be grateful....

God on you...

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