Vol. 8, No. 8
~ Page 5 ~
In the summer of 2001, we moved to a new area, and once we had found a place to live, we began looking for a place to worship. Choices were few. But believe it or not we found a church home in only the second week. So, what does one look for when looking for a new church home? Of course, one must take into consideration that the new congregation will stand for the truth on important doctrinal matters, that goes without saying. But what characteristics other than a solid doctrinal backbone do we look for when searching for a new church home?
Where we come from, there seems to be a church of Christ on every corner. Within a twenty mile radius you may find as many as ten congregations. Some of these churches are less than five miles apart. Kinda' makes you wonder about just how unified the church really is, huh? At any rate, there's no problem in finding a church to suit your needs, whether it be social, financial, spiritual or for whatever reason folks go to church. But what if you only had two choices?
Say choice one was a church of some size, between 200 and 500 folks or maybe even bigger. They support a fulltime minister and a fulltime assistant minister or youth director. They publish a weekly paper that helps spread the Gospel to the surrounding community. Just maybe they produce a weekly radio or television broadcast. This church supports and helps operate a Christian youth camp as well as sponsor weekend retreats or family seminars. Churches of this size may have a preschool or daycare for working parents. There's never a shortage of fellowship gatherings, special Bible study classes for your particular age or marital status. The worship services are inspiring and uplifting. The singing is wonderful and the preacher is truly talented, so much so that he could probably be a successful author or on a lecture circuit somewhere making good money, yet he chooses to work with this church. Yes, this church has much to offer the person looking for a new church home.
Now let's look at choice number two. This church consist of some 30 members, 15 of whom attend regularly. The members average age is somewhere above 50 years old. They don't have a fulltime preacher, maybe they have a visiting preacher that delivers the sermon on Sunday morning then returns home until the next Sunday. A church this small comes with a small budget. The sum of the entire budget of this little church wouldn't even buy the toner for the copy machine for the larger church we previously described.
Speaking of copy machines, this little church doesn't have one. What? A church that doesn't have a copier? How do they function? As a matter of fact, this church doesn't have an overhead projector, television, VCR, computer or any of that stuff that we think is required in order to do the Lord's work nowadays. No "young adult" classes, no "cradle roll," no youth activities or work programs. All this church has to offer is 15 people who love the Lord but have become stagnate because they've come down with the "the same old routine" syndrome. When compared to the other church that we first talked about, it doesn't stand a chance. Or does it?
It would probably be safe to say that 8 or 9 out of 10 folks would chose the first church. And why not? It does an awful lot to further the cause of Christ in the community while the other little church is dying on "the vine." But consider this before you trot off to that nice, friendly congregation.
What if the "little" church was the only church in that community? If it eventually faded away, as it looks like it might, what happens to the influence of the Lord's church in that community? At this point you may say, "What can I do to help the situation? I'm just one person and I can't do it all!" We must remember that the Lord and his church aren't in existence only for our benefit. We shouldn't choose a particular congregation because of what "it can do for me" or "what I can get out of it." Somewhere along the line, we've gotten things turned around, but that's a completely different lesson. This "little" church presents the perfect opportunity for spiritual growth, involvement for the whole family and a great chance to spread the Gospel to the surrounding community.
You know God has always used the "small" to accomplish great things. We can look in the Book of Judges, the Seventh Chapter and see Gideon's army of only 300 men defeat the Midianites. It is said that the number of the Midianites were "like grasshoppers for the multitude" (Judges 7:12), yet the small band of Gideon brought Israel a great victory.
Remember when Jesus fed the five thousand that had gathered to see him? Two small fish along with five pancake sized loaves of bread was all that it took to feed the hungry crowd. Something small used in a great way. Yes, we too can have a great influence in our community, and we don't need to perform miracles in order to accomplish that.
So, you can see that even though the small church may seem to offer little, the opportunities are great. Let's always be looking for ways to do great things for our Lord!