This past weekend our church celebrated the 30th anniversary of it’s founding. The celebration was delayed by a couple of weeks, but it happened. It was quite delightful. If I had to guess, I would say that probably half the people there were visitors from the past. Others around me made this estimate. It was fun to watch all these people hugging each other as many had to come from out of town to be here. They were greeting friends they hadn’t seen in a long while.
The founding pastor and the early couples who helped found the church spoke about those early days when they saw GOD work in so many amazing ways!
The founding pastor shared a little about what it was like as they started the church and what those early years were like. There were four couples there who were in that early group.
But at the time the church was started, these 4 couples were all young families in their 30’s with young children. This was not something they had ever done. They were busy growing their families, advancing in careers and doing all the normal things families of those ages do. It wasn’t like starting a church was something they chose to do because they were bored! They just trusted that GOD was going to do something special…and He did!
The Bible was foundational to what they did…literally!
One thing I learned was that when the church building was dedicated, people signed up to read the Bible aloud over a period of about a week over 24 hour periods. They signed up for slots of time to read it aloud. A Bible was also put into the foundation of the building as well. That was to show how important the Bible was meant to be in the life of this church. Wow! I was impressed when I heard it.
But there were also hard times in our history too!
Sadly, there was an awful split in our church that occurred a little over 5 years ago…not long before we moved here. The church lost about 1/2 its membership. The pastor (#3) who was here during that time and for a couple of years after, did not attend the anniversary party. I don’t know all the reasons, but I do know he has had a number of personal problems this past year.
We are now on pastor #4. He has actually been on our staff for 10 years. He was on the staff of the church under two different pastors including surviving a church split! (No fun!) He is still a young man (under 40). He has been senior pastor about 2 years…I think! He has been working with our elders and other pastors to build up our church since the split and encourage as well as bring about reconciliation.
The sermon was by the second pastor of the church. I’m still mulling it over. It was very encouraging, reminding us to get to know Jesus vs. stalking him (knowing about Him.)
Learning your history, whether it is of your church, your family or someone you love usually helps you come to appreciate them more. Sometimes, you learn to appreciate the way GOD works as well!
I have heard bits and pieces of the history of our church since I have been here. I have also heard names of people here and there who have been remembered for what they meant to people along the way because of their positive influence. I was very touched by these people who were involved in the early start of our church. Two of the couples don’t live here anymore. One couple has helped start a church in another location since leaving here.
After all the years my husband and I have worked in churches, there is one thing we have learned. This is GOD’s church. He is building it. He has chosen to use humans to do the work of stewarding it while we are here on this earth. There are times when there are huge problems…like church splits or divisions that happen because of our sin and brokenness, but GOD has the final word in the end. His plans are bigger than our desires.We have plans and dreams about what we want in our churches. Then GOD uses some of the hard things that happen for His good purposes. In the dark, I don't always see what He is doing. But when I look back, it is clear! Click To Tweet
We have plans and dreams about what we want in our churches. Then GOD uses some of the hard things that happen for His purposes…to move us out in mission to other parts of town, to split us apart from our cozy groups, to open our eyes to people and places we would never have seen if we would have stayed comfortable. When we are in the middle of all the grief and pain of the hard times, all we can see is the ugliness of what is happening. We rarely can see where GOD is, but no matter how ugly theIr situation, GOD is there too! I am more convinced of that.
Why? Because He is with and in His children. Even when they don’t behave like His children…He is there!
We will never fully understand His ways or all of His purposes. I learn much more as I look back from the perspective of years. Whether it is over the history of one church, the history of the churches where we have served, or simply the history of one person. I have observed one thing. Pain often makes us aware of our neediness, of those around us who are in need, of how much I need Jesus.
I can’t say I love the hard times at all! But in the end, I learn so much from them. I also learn so much more about Jesus and who He is. And I always grow a lot through those hard times. I guess I would have to say in retrospect, I don’t love the hard times, but I love what they do to me. They deepen me and make me more tender to others.
Praise GOD from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures her below.
Praise Him above Ye Heavenly host.
Praise Him Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—
even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—
so that you are not lacking in any gift,
as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I Corinthians 1:2-9 ESV