You Are Here: In Praise Of The Little Corner Church - A Great Untold Story
In Praise Of The Little Corner Church - A Great Untold Story
Praise Of The Little Corner Church - A Great Untold Story
church congregation functioning at its best is a beautiful thing to
experience. I was recently reminded of this while attending a
funeral service. My heart was stirred as I watched fellow church
members shower the bereaved family with love, prayers, and
home-cooked meals. About a week after the funeral, one of the family
members told me, "Our pastor has been so faithful, and we've
really felt God's love through all of the members reaching out to
us. We're gonna be OK."
this era of televangelism and celebrity preachers, the significance
of the humble local church is easy to miss. I think we need to take
a second look. Often low-tech but loving, the church is a place
where members serve God by serving others. It"s a golden rule of
the Christian world: When some one is hurting, be
the more than 384,000 Christian congregations in America, most number
less than 125 worshipers on any given Sunday morning. Most will
never podcast their sermons, much less garner prime-time media
coverage. Week after week, most churches quietly continue to go
about their two-millenia-old mission.
economy and competition for donor dollars from other non-profits are
leaving church offering plates less full than usual for this time of
year. A recent study predicts that giving to churches will decrease
by some 3 to 5 billion dollars during
this fourth quarter. It is estimated that about one third of all
families who regularly contribute to a church will donate less than
usual this quarter.
in towns everywhere, churches valiantly soldier on. In response to
current needs, nearly 40 percent of churches are currently offering
financial counseling for those who are having monetary struggles. An
estimated 52 percent of churches (both Protestant and Catholic) have
programs in place "to provide food, clothing, and basic needs"
for those in economic straights.
believe that America's churches are as important today as they were
in 1835, when Alexis DeToqueville penned this famous observation: "Not until I went
into America's churches and heard her pulpits flame with
righteousness did I understand the secret of her greatness and power.
America is great because America is good, and if America ceases to
be good, she will cease to be great."
today would disagree with DeToqueville. Many would indicate a tacit
agreement with the sentiment expressed in the title of Christopher
Hitchen's book, God
Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. A
2008 poll of 18-29 year olds revealed that nearly 80 percent of those
surveyed had a negative view of organized churches. Nearly 90
percent agreed with the statement, "Some one may have a good
relationship with God without being involved in a church."
whenever I get concerned about the church's place in our society I
remember that caring about people will always be relevant. I think
about people I've met along my ecclesiological journeys throughout
America: People like Ed, who voluntarily fitted his pickup truck
with expensive devices that keep meals hot which he transports to
area shut-ins each week. I think about Joel, a busy college student,
but one who for two years now has organized fellow students from his
Sunday school class to sing in a rest home each week - just because.
I think about Lynn. As a retired international airline stewardess,
Lynn fluently speaks half a dozen languages. For years, she has led
literacy courses for immigrants and taught ESL classes to hundreds -
through her local church.
church affirms life at every stage, provides fellowship, community,
instruction, and care of the soul. Churches carry out their
all-important function of teaching people about God, the Bible,
Jesus, and salvation. Churches teach people of all ages how to how
to worship and how to serve, how to live and how to die.
season, take in a poorly-performed church Christmas play and
appreciate the fact that it was probably funded out of the pocket of
the same person recruited to direct it. Join in singing some carols
that may be accompanied by an out-of-tune piano, and marvel at the
beauty of withered hands which can still play publicly past age 75.
Let the minister know that the message inspired you. Thank the ones
who have invested their lives in the souls of others.
church a part of your Christmas experience this year. Do more this
year than just mail a check to an out-of-town non-profit
organization. Say a prayer of thanks for your local churches.
Better yet, get involved.
McFarland serves as Director of the Center for Christian Worldview
and Apologetics, North Greenville University. He has spoken in all
50 U.S. states and internationally, and is the author of 10 books.