I had a conversation with a minister friend yesterday about why we left one church for another. Reason #1: we were persona non grata. A close second: the church isn’t a good fit for us and our ideas about ministry. She asked what we liked about the new church…and about their stance on women in leadership. Currently, the church is not in favor of the latter–but I think it’s moving that way…and doing so the right way. She wondered aloud at the fact that, more and more, intelligent, educated women are willing to attend churches that wouldn’t allow them to fill certain leadership positions. I told her that, for me and where I am currently, this church meets other needs and that, consequently, the woman thing isn’t a deal breaker.
This morning, we “had” to go to our former church. Before doing so, I went over to our current church…not to attend a service–though it turned out to be the most worshipful part of my day. Today was “fill the truck” day to help restock the Durham Rescue Mission with things such as clothing and household items in order to help them continue to meet the needs of people in the community as they try to get back on their feet. (In a crappy economy, non-profits are among the hardest hit.)
The truck was to be at church from 8-1. When I arrived at 9:40, there was no truck. I thought maybe it was in another part of the parking lot where I couldn’t see it. Nope. No truck. I drove around the parking lot and still didn’t see a truck, but there were a few spaces blocked off with cones and there was a table with a few chair sitting there. Still no truck, though. There were, however, a few men standing out front and I pulled up to ask about the truck. Turns out, the truck had already been filled once, and they had taken it back to unload it so it could be reloaded.
In an hour and a half, the truck was filled.
At that rate, they could have conceivably filled it a total of 2-3 times.
That’s just one example of why I like this church. The other is even more powerful. The church has partnered to do ministry in Haiti to care for poor, orphaned children. A piece of land on the coast came up for sale. It had an AMAZING view that would heal any soul. To be able to provide housing for a number of children there was the epitome of heaven on earth. The land cost $400,000. The pastor felt the burden of wanting and needing to buy the land, but also the burden of asking his congregation to raise that much money above and beyond their budget…at the time the recession was starting.
And they had to put up the money within a week to be able to buy it.
The pastor asked the church to raise the money, hoping people would be willing to follow the example of Jesus…or even the widow who gave her last two cents…but uncertain of their reaction.
Within one week, the church raised that $400,000.
No committee. No vote. No let’s table the motion and think about it. No let’s put together a team to determine the best way to finance this operation.
Just a big fat check at the end of 7 days.
What church does that?!
Added to that is the fact that most Sundays I walk out chewing on something from the sermon.
The woman thing can wait. The bottom line is that we’re called to love God and love people. Regardless of where people stand theologically or politically, that bottom line is the one thing that can unify people and bring them into a deeper and more meaningful relationship and way of life. And that is where the rubber meets the road.
I’m thankful for the truck I didn’t see this morning. I’m thankful that it was full by 9:40. I’m thankful that moment in the parking lot at one church helped me to be OK with sitting in the pew at another. And I’m thankful for the 2 minutes of worship I experienced before my day really got started.