Posted tagged ‘simple’

Longing For the Simple Church

September 23, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 23, 2018

                           

I’ll be driving out to Simla, Colorado this morning to give the morning message at First Baptist Church. Since I retired from pastoring at the end of 2015 I’ve made the 50 minute easy drive to Simla on most Sundays, even Sundays I’m not scheduled to speak.

As I reflected on my new place for preaching 36 years of sermons I discovered why I enjoy Simla so much. 

It’s simple!

First Baptist Church in Simla is about as uncomplicated as you can get. On a well-attended Sunday morning there may be 20 people crowded into the sanctuary that seats over a hundred. Years ago the church was filled, or close to it, and then the main industry in town closed and people moved away, or died, or became more interested in something different on Sunday mornings. No one seems to have moved down the block to the Methodist Church. They are as lean in numbers as the Baptists.

Simla reminds me of a simpler time, and probably the most enjoyable time I had in my years as a pastor. It was when I went to pastor the First Baptist Church in Mason, Michigan. Although it was my first experience as the pastor of a church, having served as a part of the pastoral staff in two previous places, the congregation of Mason helped me as I learned and didn’t threaten execution when I failed.

I remember the people…Durwould and Elsie Collar, Ken and Ardis Bystrom, Russ and Freida Vincent, Harry and Phyllis Smith, Marie Lyons, Lorraine Demorest, Tim and Karen Chora, Ed and Pat Myer, Eva Collar, Eleanor Hart, Otto and Mary Heikkila, Harold and Carol Anderson, Howard and Kyoto Wandell, Katherine Every, and Ivan Heincelman. Each name conjures up memories and conversations that chiseled me a little closer to being a good pastor. 

It was a simple time. That is, church seemed more like a summer picnic in the country than a week of meetings and responsibilities. It seemed like we enjoyed one another a little more and treasured moments like sitting in a booth at A&W and eating lunch together or having a Saturday morning men’s bible study where we ate donuts and drank coffee.

We didn’t have social media. Our media was a mention in the Ingham County News weekly newspaper…maybe! Our biggest crisis during those years was when a couple left the church because we weren’t nearly as spiritual as Jim and Tammy Bakker. 

Simla brings back memories of those days, days of joy, peace, and community. This morning as I travel on Highway 24 it’s like I’m going back to what was and maybe what still can be.

Not That Complicated

July 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    July 25, 2013

 

                                      

 

     Today marked the last day of our congregation’s day camp, which we call Summer Daze. Summer Daze began about eight years ago as a way to encourage kids to read during the school’s summer vacation. It actually began as a result of conversations with the Shirley Stevens, the principal of Longfellow School down the street from our church. Longfellow, which unfortunately closed about four years ago, did not have funding for a summer reading program, so our church stepped into the gap in the creation of Summer Daze.

This year’s theme was a take-off (no pun intended) on “Star Wars.” During the week we talked about some Biblical themes that deal with light and darkness, chosen people, and heroes of the Christian faith.

Today I explained the simple gospel message to the kids. It wasn’t complicated, and they understood it. I realized that as a pastor for thirty-four years that I quite often have made the gospel complicated. I’m prone to put in “What if’s”.

I realize that life is often complicated. It’s filled with crises, misunderstandings, obstacles, and setbacks. But the gospel is rather simple and straightforward.

Each of us is sinful and falls short .

      God still loves us despite our failures.

       He gave his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to atone for our sin.

      If we believe in Jesus God promises life, and life eternal.

 

We can lengthen out the theology with more clarification…and amplification…but it still really comes down to that summary. It’s really a life and death story, or, better yet, a death to life story.

And the interesting thing is that when I look back on it, today’s sharing of the simple gospel was made possible because a school couldn’t provide a reading program.

Amazing!