We almost skip this church since efforts to contact them were unsuccessful. It took a Saturday evening drive to confirm they’re viable and learn their service time.
On Sunday a small crowd gathers, mostly older. The service is traditional, but in an informal way. At times it seems evangelical and other times mainline, with periodic hints of charismatic. This might just be an ideal blend of traditions. The sermon is an expository teaching from Acts 22 and 23; the theme is truth.
After the sermon, we sing a cappella to lead us into communion. Without the covering of music, the hymn’s words are unavoidable, providing a meaningful path to the communion table. The pastor affirms that all who are in relationship with God are invited. “We do not know your hearts to reject you,” he says, “or know your hearts to accept you.” Only God knows your heart; this is between you and him. Children of any age are free to participate when they are able to understand, he concludes. This is what communion should be: family-focused, community-centered, and God-oriented.
Afterwards we talk with the pastor. Given their small numbers they’ve considered closing, but he feels God is calling them to persist and for him to remain their leader. Their mission is to help people on their faith journey, connecting them to other churches according to their needs and preferences. If they happen to pick up members along the way, that’s a bonus, but it’s not their goal. Although it took some time, the members eventually agreed with this counter-intuitive mission.
The church Jesus founded needs more leaders like this man and more churches with this one’s perspective. I pray God will bless him and this church.