I am planning my 2016 mission trip (hate that phrase because my mission ain’t no trip, it’s a daily thing) and I got a call from a pastor of a church in Kansas. He said last week they had seven in attendance but sometimes they have as many as 40 … but still. This young guy told me how he needed some help putting together a Vacation Bible School for his small church in a small community.
He talked about how there is a home close to his church building for adults that have had brain trauma and how some of these residents attend his church services … some of the parishioners don’t like it when these people have conversations with others who are not visibly there (invisible friends). The guy that drives the bus and brings these hurting people to the church asked if he could come to the service as well, he has never gone to church but had been reading a Bible.
This pastor told me how some of these people who once lived normal and even what we would call successful lives but were in a car accident or something similar have gained clarity through being a part of a local worship gathering, from being discipled. Wow!
This church has had trouble (which one hasn’t). They say if the devil can’t lick you, he will join you. I’m pretty sure he joined a couple of churches I pastored and even got attendance pins annually. Sorry, I digressed. But as I was told about how small they are, and how much trouble they have had and the shortage of human resources … that there is no one to teach the teenagers and how the congregants don’t make a priority of God and don’t attend regularly each week and as I heard this pastor’s heart for people and how in fact people are being drawn and changed I thought, Dude, you have one of the more successful churches in America. This church is fulfilling the mandate of making disciples, where two or three are gathered God is present … again, wow!
I almost felt embarassed … somehow I thought this guy needed my help? We need to change our metric. Jesus started with 12 and got attendance to 120 in three years. Jesus did that. I’m not Jesus so I’m guessing if I started with 12 it might take a little longer to get where Jesus got.
If you are a church person and serving at a high level you know that it can be frustrating. Elijah was depressed after outrunning horses but God told him to leave the pity party that there were some still faithful and that there was still work to do. It might be working with the two or three that are gathered but how sweet the small gatherings are and how sweet the presence of the Lord is. He told me to tell you that.
Ken Ansell serves as a pastor in a small central Texas rural community. He is a local missionary and he fly fishes when he can.