Family was here. They like to attend church. So we went online to shop for a church. Just a one-day deal.
We’d heard of a church that some friends of the family attended, so we tried to remember the name of it. We thought we’d found it.
Service at 10:30. Perfect. Big church. Good music. Good preacher. In and out in an hour! Quick fix and we’ll be on our way.
Oops! We pull up to a small, dated 60’s kind of church. I think we all wanted to run. We stayed.
It still made me want to cry when Carma and I were talking about it last night.
I’ll try to make sense of my thoughts this morning.
We walked in.
The greeter took one look at us and knew he had to make the sale quick. In 30 seconds we had been greeted, invited back, had hope expressed that we would make this our permanent church home, and been complemented on being first time visitors that were already bringing outsiders (our family) to church.
Quick, get an usher.
He walked us down to the third row from the front.
Best seats in the house. It’s a quick trip to the altar when the invitation is given.
Made me grin, but a bit awkward.
There weren’t very many of us Caucasian types. Mostly folk who looked like they didn’t have to go out to eat Mexican and a few African Americans.
The pastor was African American. You couldn’t help but love him. He looked like Jesus.
The worship team didn’t have a single hipster. None of them would have made it in the church we thought we were going to.
Who in their right mind would open with “When the Saints Go Marching In”?
By the time we got to “We will march around the throne”, I’m grinning, singing, clapping, and feeling like I’m in the throne room. Entertaining didn’t seem to be the goal, so worship took over.
They forgot to tell us we could sit if we were tired, so we stood an awfully long time.
Then the sermon. All of us needed to hear about twenty minutes of it. “Don’t believe the lies the devil tells us. They’ll mess our lives up.” An hour into it, I could hear my boys saying to me as they have many times, “way too much explanation, Dad, we get it”.
They’ll never be a mega-church.
Why does it still fill my thoughts this morning? I’ll try my best to sort it out for you.
- I think they were living in the margins. What I mean is that I went skiing on Saturday, but I doubt if most of them could’ve afforded it.
- They were people on a first name basis with tough times: grief, loss, difficulties and heartache.
- They had assembled to give support, love each other, make some kind of sense out of it all, and learn how to be better people. You could tell all of this from the testimonies, requests and prayers lifted. They needed God in the middle of it all. I think Jesus was sitting next to each of them.
- They worshipped like people who had been forgiven much and loved the king who had done it.
- They seemed like a big imperfect family with a loving father (pastor) who just wanted his kids to know they were loved, special and belonged to God’s family. He didn’t want the rough stuff they faced to become lies they listened to about their value.
- Out of their need they were given the opportunity to give to a mother who had lost two of her sons and husband to death. They gave!
Some things I wanted to say to them.
- Thanks for treating us like guests.
- Don’t worry about impressing us. We were church consumers. You were being the eyes and ears and mouth and hands and feet of God for each other.
- Don’t apologize for taking the second offering. If we hadn’t been church consumers that morning we would have come prepared to give as well.
- Pastor, you know what you taught us about not believing the lies from our enemy the devil? Please don’t believe the lie that the bigger your Sunday service is, or the more converts you win, determines your success. What I saw Sunday morning was the church, and Jesus was there.
- A mega-church service probably wouldn’t still be impacting my thoughts this morning.
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