Monday, October 28, 2013

There's a Place for Us

On our best days small churches feel strong and mighty.  We celebrate and build on our strengths and move forward knowing and sharing the love of Jesus.  On our not best days, however we can feel discouraged. Without the funding and programs of larger sister churches, smaller churches can feel as if we are somehow less than.  Is there a place for us?

Yesterday Scottsville Baptist had the privilege of hosting the Kelly and Cates bell ringers, a group of adults with special needs who lead worship through their gift of music.  This group is from Fredericksburg Baptist, a wonderful church with a history of missions and generosity. Tommy, their director, conducts music by using color-coded cards.  By watching the colors change these friends are able to joyfully ring bells to beloved hymns and other songs.

Following one of the hymns, Tommy shared the beginnings of their ministry.  A woman named Margaret Ingram invited her neighbor to church.  The neighbor's daughter had special needs.  The neighbor asked "Is there a place for my daughter?"

Fredericksburg Baptist got to work and started a "Special Friends" class for persons with disabilities.  The ministry grew and today Fredericksburg Baptist has two residential homes for adults with special needs.  In addition to music ministry, many of these folks live at the Kelly or Cates Home near the church.  All that to say: The ministry of the Kelly and Cates bell ringers is possible because of Fredericksburg Baptist Church and Margaret Ingram.  Thanks Margaret for inviting your neighbor to church.

A happy twist to Tommy's story is Margaret grew up at...Scottsville Baptist Church!

On our not best days small churches can fall prey to comparison.  That church has x.  We only have y.  On our best days however, we celebrate our strengths.  We rejoice in the privilege of raising young women like Margaret, who invited her neighbor to church.  Today a ministry to adults with special needs thrives.  We rejoice in the privilege of raising young women like Lottie Moon, who followed Jesus to China for the sake of the gospel.

This is not to toot the horn of Scottsville Baptist Church.  We have growing edges just like everyone else!  This is not a "Look how great we are" post.  It is, however a reminder that God works in small spaces and places.  No matter the budget or number of programs, God can still work...and God does work in small churches, friends!  Margaret and Lottie are sisters to celebrate.

During the service a blind gentleman with perfect pitch sang West Side Story's "Somewhere."

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

He sang with pure joy.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I could almost hear Margaret's neighbor asking "Is there a place for my daughter?"  Fredericksburg Baptist Church said "Yes."  Yes, there is a place for persons with special needs.  Peace and quiet and open air waited for Margaret's neighbor at Fredericksburg Baptist Church. Thanks Fredericksburg Baptist.

Likewise, there is a place for small churches.  We may not see "results" tomorrow or even next week, but perhaps we are part of something we cannot begin to imagine.  Be faithful, small and mighty churches. There is a place for you in God's kingdom.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Stop a Running Toilet

A couple of months ago I heard a noise in the church building.  It sounded like running water underneath grates in big cities.  Have the ninja turtles finally arrived to recruit me as the next April?  Per "All Creatures of our God and King" animals are welcome, but no turtles were found.

Maybe there's a leak in the kitchen? Nope.  No leak. 

Perhaps it's an issue in the restroom?  The women's bathroom was quiet as a mouse, but upon entry to the men's room I found the culprit:  The urinal was running like a madman and screaming for attention.  Eeeeek. 

What do I do?  Call the deacons, of course!  I called the deacon chair and he walked me through a solution.  I essentially punched the urinal in just the right place (yes I did) to stop it from running.  It worked!  Also I'll take "Things They Didn't Teach Me in Seminary" for $200, Alex.  The urinal was fixed and I felt like a champ.  I think I told 3,400 people about it. 

A few weeks ago another toilet was running and I observed someone quietly slip into the bathroom and fix the problem.  He fixed the problem and then did another 5 servant-y things around the building.  He didn't tell 3,400 people or ask for accolades.  He quietly fixed the problem and went on about other business of serving the church.

I wanted to post a clever facebook update.  He wanted to go unnoticed.  This is probably a lesson for me, yes? 

On Sunday we ordained two new deacons and reflected on Jesus' servant ministry in John 13.  Jesus shows us what love does by assuming a posture of humility and washing the feet of the disciples.  Let's be honest:  The disciples' feet had to ripe with nasty, and yet Jesus washed them.  Jesus teaches us about servant ministry by washing feet.

Likewise, servants in the church wash feet.  Servants aren't afraid to do the dirty work.  There is no task beneath the servant.  Servants take initiative and get things done.  Servants see someone sitting alone and make conversation.  Servants reach out to those perceived as strange or different.  Servants see a coffee spill on the floor and clean it up.  Servants do thankless things that may appear small.  Servants sacrifice for the good of others.  Servants fix the running urinal without fanfare. 

The church can improve in many ways, but whether you know it or not--there are secret servants all over the place.  It's a treat when you get to see one in action. 

Thanks be to God for folks who humbly serve to God's glory.