We arrive at church to find an empty lobby. Hearing an amplified voice, we head towards the sound. We find a large sanctuary with 162 chairs and 20 people. Like last week, we slink into a back row. A young woman turns around, smiles broadly, and mouths “hello.”
I assume Sunday school is running late, but if that’s the case, it’s lasted 90 minutes. The speaker makes a few concluding remarks and asks everyone to stand. He publically acknowledges the presence of visitors and apologizes that there is no church service today, just Sunday school. Their minister had an emergency and they canceled church. He hopes we’ll visit another time.
After a short prayer, the people begin leaving. The young woman comes up and greets us, embarrassed for there being no service. With a late starting time of 11:30, there’s no opportunity to go elsewhere, so we linger to talk.
Our new friend shares her faith journey. Her testimony encourages me. Perhaps we’ll have church after all, unofficially so. She introduces others and we learn a bit about their history. She asks if I know what an apostolic church is. We’ve been to several claiming that label but possessing little in common. “It seems apostolic means different things to different people,” I say. She nods and then explains their doctrine.
Then she shares God’s work in her life, including starting a youth program, leading worship, performing clerical tasks at church, and preparing for next week’s Christmas program. She smiles with joy as she speaks of her faith in action.
Though a formal church service did not occur, an informal fellowship did. We proclaimed Jesus, worshiped the Father, and celebrated the Holy Spirit – and it all happened without any music or sermon.