The Little Church That Could, Part 1

January 9, 2009
“The Little Church That Could”

Once…multiplied by a billion times there were two little churches.
The first church had been around since Adam. It had once been a large prominent congregation in the midst of the city. Many of the influential personalities in town were members of the church. There was a large endowment fund that the church kept adding in to. And when the church had a need- like softer, fluffier pew cushions- a grand event like a formal catered dinner would be organized and the money would be raised in an evening’s time.
No one was quite sure when the problems of the first church started. Many of the long-time members would point to the changing neighborhood around them being the slow fuse of destruction for the once prominent congregation. Others pointed to a particular pastor who stayed too long or not long enough. Still others focused on the deaths of some of the most influential people.
What was indisputable, however, was that the church was not what it used to be. From time to time a new resident in the neighborhood would show up for worship. Once in a while the person would even come back a second time. When one of the new neighbors showed up time and time again, and then offered to head up a project of remodeling the nursery that had simply been used for storage for a few years, there was a heightened sense of anxiety in the small congregation. They had never had someone offer to help. People had always been appointed, elected, pigeon-holed, or even voted in when they were away on vacation.
The “crisis” was taken care of by the elderly head of the Trustees Board. He informed the new person that they appreciated the offer, but were going to decline it. “After all,” he said, “as far as we can figure, the nursery hasn’t been used for five years. We don’t see the value in putting money into something that isn’t being used.”
Within a few weeks of that conversation, the boiler of the building’s heating system needed to be replaced at substantial cost. Perhaps it was all the attention of that situation that resulted in no one noticing that the new person gradually disappeared from view.
The church kept decreasing in size as more of its long-time members passed away.
The number of crimes in the area increased. The church built a high security fence around the property as a precaution to deter break-ins.
A new young pastor who didn’t know any better came to the church and suggested that the congregation reach out to the neighborhood.
It wasn’t received well.
People excused his idea as just being “a sign of his youth and pastoral inexperience.” Some told him that they were a small congregation that had too many problems on the inside of the building to worry about helping people outside the building. When he suggested that they sell the building and put part of the money into community ministry, calls were placed to some important officials in the denomination and the new young pastor soon became the young former pastor.
As the months and years clicked by the once prominent congregation became more and more invisible. There was growing resentment in the little group of people about the fact that they were no longer living in the glory days of their church.
It affected their relationship with God individually and corporately. Some even blamed God for taking away the gold, glitter, and glamour that they once had.
Their building became a fortress to guard against an enemy that they had a hard time identifying.
Years removed from their golden era, the few that were left would begin their description of the church, and excuse for avoiding the initiation of any new idea, with the phrase “We’re just a little church…”
There was a second church…but that story will have to wait until next week!

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