Monday, June 23, 2014

Little churches...

I have a real love for little churches.

My childhood years were filled with visiting little churches, all around the country, as my dad preached and we went along for the ride. I've written many chapters about those years. 

In my 'grown up' years, we haven't gone to a lot of little churches. Most of them have bordered on mega. I love all that is available in our big churches, the music, special events, classes available, etc., but in all that is gained, I sometimes feel the loss of the small and familiar.

Those little churches had a unique and sweet fellowship. We all knew each other, (sometimes too well!) and it was like our own family, in a very personal way.

I also have a heart for those who pastor little churches. Their work, ministry and preparation are every bit as life consuming as the pastors of the big churches, but I wonder how often they are prone to discouragement... so few new people coming, so little money in the budget, and so little seems to change through the years that go by.

Being little doesn't count for any more or less in God's eyes. Being big doesn't either.

Being faithful and obedient does.

It's the same for us. Our lives may be stuffed full of good things, highly productive and rewarding on the surface, but maybe not growing very deep on the inside. Or... we may feel that we are not accomplishing much, and very little is happening, but we are obeying God and being faithful in our daily walk.

Either way... God will honor the little or the much, when it is done as unto him.

Some little churches, as well as some little lives... bear much fruit. Some mega big churches, and mega big lives... look glittery and exciting, but their fruit isn't always as deep and real as it should be.

In our churches and in our lives, it's about what we do with the truth we already know. 

Are we living in obedience to what God has already shown us, or just 'looking good' on the outside.

God sees straight to the heart. He knows every motive and intent... in our churches, and in our lives.

I watched my dad's life all through the years. By today's standards, his work was small. His ministry usually didn't draw thousands of people, and the offering plate was not full and running over. But his faithfulness to God was disciplined and consistent, and God saw all of it.

He and my mother are in heaven now, but the work God gave my dad is multiplying and growing, all over the world. He has always reminded me of Abraham. Dad is now in the promised land, but his work, God's work, has taken root and grown, long after he lived to see it. 

Here's the real truth...

Dad wouldn't have done anything differently. His daily desire was to live his life and do his work, as unto God.

It's my forever challenge and goal to do the same. 


Sharon said...

Sonja, a beautiful post. Two years ago, as you know, we moved to a small mountain town. We went from attending a mega-church, to attending a small fellowship. Our church has had the same (wonderful) pastor since he got out of seminary 30 years ago. I must admit, I love the quaintness, the closeness...and the old-fashioned potlucks!

However, as you say, big or small, it's all about serving and showing Jesus to others. And that can be done in big ways or in a thousand obedient small steps...


Vee said...

Just to do what He wants...pastors who are doing that can know that their work goes on. I'm sure that God used your dad to touch many lives. You probably know many of those stories, too. Lots of credit goes to your mom and all the family.

Lea @ CiCis Corner said...

Beautiful post Sonja! My Dad, too, always pastored small churches but did so with such dedication to the Lord. As you said, he would not have done anything differently had he pastored a mega church.

A great illustration to our lives as well. Have a great week!

Debbie said...

Can't tell you how much I loved this post. Soo much truth in it! My son's church is small, though it is still growing, but I have seen through watching him just how much is involved in pasturing a small church. Soo much dedication and just plain old love of the Lord is involved. Willing to do what it is He has for us regardless of rather or not anyone else ever sees or notices. A true love for others that can only come from Him. Thanks for this! Hope you have a good week!

Debbie Petras said...

I loved this post Sonja! I always say 'work as unto the Lord'. Whether it seems to be a huge project or simply holding the hand of one in need, God sees it all and knows our heart's motive.

Over the years, I've been to huge churches and to little churches. In the early 90's, I belonged to a little church in Flagstaff, AZ. We had to bring our folding chairs from Sunday School to use as seats in the assembly area of the little church. I knew everyone by name and we all helped out.

Now I am a member of a much larger church. I don't know everyone's name. But the Word is still preached and there are also good things about larger churches too.

But I love what you wrote about your dad and mom. What godly examples they were to you.

Love you,

Farm Girl said...

My grandparents built a church out in a little community. It looks like the one in the picture.
I visited there once when my cousin who is a pastor came to town to preach a sermon to the whole family. It was nice to sit in that church and know how much my grand parents had sacrificed to build it.
Nice post.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

And for me, this "life lesson" is becoming clearer - this is the beautiful thing about AGING. Let's just say it: AGING. But the body ages and grows new pains, but if we are faithful (and with the grace of God), our spirits are growing day by day toward the truth - and becoming younger, if you will. I was praying yesterday, and this very essence of which you speak about being small or great was the "topic" of my end of the prayer. On HIS end of the prayer, it was about the commitment to keep faithful in order to see the true reward of the work, no matter how small.

THank you for this gorgeous vision of encouragement for my day here, Sonja, and for your visit and kind words! Anita

myletterstoemily said...

This is so true, and you express it vividly.
Big or little, all for Him.

Sandy said...

Agreed, yes, you expressed it wonderfully. I have also attended large and small churches. Hearing His word preached in full truth is what really matters. I always love when you write about your folks.

Anonymous said...
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Arlynda Lea Beuterbaugh said...

"Bits and Pieces..." has been included in our Arlynda Lea's Sites to See #6. We hope this helps to call more attention to your efforts.

Debbie said...

My heart is full after reading this post. It's funny: I have been out of town and then out of sorts as I have neglected just coming and visiting in blog land for a variety of reasons. EVERY TIME I do that, I return to discover that God had wonderful things waiting for me here. It's a good place, this Blog Land.

But I digress.

I loved this post and could have written it myself about the church where I grew up and the man (my grandfather) who pastored it.

My husband likes to say that his days were long in the land the LORD his God had given him. He (husband) says it in pure deviance of earthly thinking because Grandpa died before the age of 60. Grandpa's days, though, were long because the work of his heart still lives in me and in so many others. I feel that way about your parents.

(And I realized that I just wrote a blog post here. Why is it that I can't do it on my own space? Maybe I will...)

Kathleen said...

I have come to know & love your parents through your writing, Sonja. I doubt the world would factor that in when calculating ministry effectiveness. Your Dad's work continues, though I seriously doubt it's a measure used by any who measure such things as to his reach & effectiveness. In God's economy, it's HUGE!

Just a little something from Judy said...

This is just a great post! I have attended and loved a little white church in the country, for so many years...43 to be exact. The same pastor has graced it's pulpit, and faithfully expounded God's Word from it's pulpit. I could write a book on all that I learned from this Pastor and the many blessings that flow from my years there. There is a sign at the top of the stairs, in the entrance way, that states, "You are now entering the classroom". When we walk out of the same door, a sign says, "You are now entering the battlefield". Yes, I sure do cherish my little white church, in the midst of an area with many mega churches.

Thanks for sharing this post today. It encouraged my heart.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of preaching in my dad's little church. The following week he retired from the ministry again. I believe he's done more kingdom work in that little place than, perhaps, some of the bigger churches in the area. What a pleasure to come alongside him in ministry. Alicia Chole has mentioned in her teaching that some of the best ministry/leadership advice she's ever received has been: to focus on what's near not far; small not big. I try to live by this.