Pausing to Take Stock

So far, we’ve looked at how we got started in our church, turning it around so that it could grow.  In this little narrative, our point of beginning was a church that had little chance of surviving for very long, and we’ve gone up to a point where it was just about ready to come alive.  This is a good point to pause and take stock of where we had been and see where we would go…church_clipart_white

When I first visited this church in 2005, being new to the area and looking for a “home” we came in one Sunday morning and discovered that nobody would talk to us; they stared at us.  After the service was over, the preacher and youth minister did say good-bye at the door.  On the way, my wife asked me where I thought we should visit the next week, and I told her that I thought we should return, and she was shocked. “That is the coldest church I’ve ever been in,” was her reply, but we did return the following week and and two people did actually speak.  After saying ‘hello’ both asked us why were had come back… Several weeks later, more people would speak, and they always asked us why we were “coming here?”

Interesting, don’t you think?

This was a church that was completely turned inward, a place where the people believed that the church was there fore the sole purpose of meeting their needs. “Seeking and saving the lost” would be accomplished by the church writing a check for a hundred bucks and sending it to a mission organization.  Of course, in a congregation with such a self-centered notion of Christianity, nobody would really want to take the gospel to the community.  Within that group, everything was wonderful, everyone was kind to the other, so that was good enough.  The Bible was taught, and most people had a good handle on systematic theology, but no clue about applied theology.  I would imagine that they could have had a great team at the “Bible Bowl” trivia contest!  And, as a result, when the last one died, you could put the lock on the door. As we continue, I’ll tell you more about how things were along the way…

At the point where we left off yesterday, all of this had changed.  This was still an early time, but our people began to have a point of view that was Biblical rather than strictly selfish.  They wanted to serve Jesus Christ selflessly, rather than complain that they weren’t being served.  People who had never been willing to do anything for someone else were now asking what they could do to help others…

Of course, there was still much work to do, for only about a quarter had come to this point, while the rest were complaining that we weren’t “taking care” of their needs.  For the record, these “needs” most of the time were the needs of being told that they needn’t worry about serving anyone else, that they were most important, and that their children need not worrying about ever not being the center of everyone’s attention at all times.  Yes, maybe this is a harsh thing to say, but I’m only reporting here… I was told these things!

If you were to peek in at us, you would have noticed that our average age was still in the 50-70 range, you would have noticed that we had a high percentage of families in which the husband almost never came to church and that our music was very poor, and our preaching was frequently lame, and always very traditional.  You would also have noticed that people tended to arrive late, services didn’t start on time, and that afterwards, people left very quickly… but this was about to change.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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