Breaking News from wherever you are:
A new minister in a small town spent the first four days, then the next four weeks, then the next four months, desperately calling on the membership, inviting them – then begging them – to come to services . . . He failed.
He placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that as the church was dead, it was his duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said.
Morbidly curious the whole town turned out. In front of the pulpit, they saw a high coffin, smothered in flowers. The minister read the obituary and delivered a eulogy; he then invited the congregation to step forward and pay their respects to the dearly beloved who had departed.
The long line filed by. Each mourner peeped into the coffin and then turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. For in the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror. Everyone saw himself.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
I wonder … how many of us have heard of a church that is struggling or dying and we just shook our heads and thought to ourselves, “My, that’s a shame. But MY church is doing great!” Then we pat ourselves on the back with a congratulatory hand as we drive by that struggling church on Sunday morning and see the almost empty parking lot. Maybe as we fellowship with our friends in our churches we pause for a second and think, “Someone should invite those people from that struggling church to come to our church!” Later, as you make your way into the sanctuary and realize that someone you don’t recognize is sitting in the pew where you usually sit, you may start to think, ” Of course, it would be better if they would attend the other church down the road or even if they do come to my church I am sure they would like the other worship service we have here.” During the worship service you think of all the things you have to be grateful for and look around you and thank God for all the people in attendance, the choir, the ushers, the people who take the children out so you can hear the pastors message, and then say to yourself, “I love my church!”
I wonder … if we visited that struggling church one Sunday, or several Sundays, could we offer hope and the physical presence of Christ to one of our brothers and sisters?
I wonder … if we adopted that struggling church as our mission field for a season, could we bring the presence of Christ and the fellowship of believers into a community?
I wonder … if we were willing to step out of our comfort zone to fellowship and worship God with brothers and sisters who are unfamiliar to us, could we encourage a new believer or a pastor who is broken or a stranger?
I wonder … if we thought about what the church really is and earnestly prayed for revival in the church, could we make a difference in that struggling church?
I wonder … can we be the church?
- The Future of a Small Church (barefootpreachr.org)