Community Church, Three Steps to Growth
Small community church is on my mind. What is Community Church? Since the Puritans showed up in America, we have had churches in every community. As a baby boomer, I remember there was a time when the number of churches in a community outnumbered the bars and tattoo parlors. Now it is the other way around. Church was the place where people gathered on Sunday in Worship with music and prayers and gratitude in their hearts. It is the place we are married and buried and hopefully baptized. Those are important life eventsThe small community church has been a place we break bread together in the form of Pot Luck, or Hot Dish with meat loaves, jello molded into pyrex bowls with small fruit pieces suspended in the rippling color of the jello. There were upside down cakes and a variety of puddings, potato salads and mystery casseroles with some type of canned soup featured as the sauce. We did not go for the food, although some was very good, some was not. We could have eaten at home. We went to be part of a larger thing. We went to be part of our church family. It was fun. This weekend I visited the church where I found God. I gave a talk there about Prayer and Shining Your Light. It got me thinking how we moved every year when I was a kid following my dad's work as a Crane Operator and community church was the only constant thing in my life. It was an anchor. I could show up at the new school as the new kid, but I already knew another person or two at the school from church.Now the rule was we had to be able to walk to the church in the new town where we moved, because my folks had one car and if my Dad was working, my Mom wanted to be able to get to functions at the church. It was how we got to know people, became part of a new community and new church family since we were so far from our own family. Consequently I have attended a number of churches of different denominations to include Methodist, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Community Fellowship Christian, Baptist, Mennonite, and I even was the only Protestant child in a Catholic elementary school in Denver in the 1960's. They were less than thrilled, but felt God had sent them a heathen to convert and did their best to get me through the conversion process. Sorry it didn't work out as they planned. But this tapestry of doctrines and theologies has made my spiritual life rich and I wouldn't trade it for anything. They have held bible studies and made lunches for shut-ins. They have hosted Vacation Bible School and provided food and crafts to children whose family didn't attend or support the church. Several I have known, made hundreds of warm little quilts for babies, and old people in nursing homes each year. Church people I didn't even know brought food and 2 quits to my home when my son was born. (We had a church we attended, but there were 4 or 5 other churches in our neighborhood.) What a kind thing it was.The small community church is dying right now. In your neighborhood and mine, the last 3 people are preparing to turn off the light and lock the doors for the last time. Are we going to let this happen on our watch? I believe there can be a rebirth of the community church. I am going to outline three ideas over the next three posts. These are going to be viewed as controversial and I know not everyone will appreciate my ideas on saving the community church; but here goes.
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