If you follow my blog with any regularity you probably noticed that I didn’t publish an entry for the past couple of weeks. That is because after 133 blog entries, I ran out of things to say. I suffered a bad case of writer’s block and didn’t know what to write. Rather than just publish for the sake of publishing, I decided to take a couple of weeks off.
A very special Sunday service
This past Sunday I attended a very special service at Don Valley Bible Chapel in Toronto. I had to visit my 94 year old aunt who is in hospital in Toronto. My wife and I decided that we would also visit the church where some good friends, Matt & Sue Craig, serve as pastors. We were so very glad that we did. The service encapsulated everything that a small church should be.
They began with a breakfast that was part of the service. A row of tables loaded with food extended down the middle of the auditorium and after a couple of songs everyone was invited to participate in the meal. For about the next twenty minutes there was a wonderful time of fellowship as people shared in two things that go together so well – food and conversation.
We did some more singing and then we celebrated the communion service together. I couldn’t help but think back to reports of the early church when the communion service always was part of a larger meal.
This was followed by some more worship and then we came to the highlight of the morning. The service ended with the baptism of five people. Each of them shared his or her story and while each story was different there was the common thread of God at work in their lives. It was so much fun to hear those stories and to be reminded that God is at work in churches of all sizes.
The other thing that was exciting about the baptism was the ethic diversity of the people who were baptized. Three of them were African, one was Asian and the last one was European, a beautiful reminder that God is the Lord of the whole earth.
Gloria and I had to leave as soon as the service was over so we didn’t get to talk with people afterwards but I am still basking in the glow of that service. I am so thankful that I got to share in it.
A very special time of prayer
A couple of weeks ago in my home church, Alma Bible Church, there was a special time of prayer. There is a family that has been going through a difficult time. The husband and father has been fighting for his life and the leaders felt that we needed something more than just the normal pastoral prayer. This called for the whole church to become family and to pray together that God would intercede in this situation.
The leader asked everyone to form a large circle around the outer edge of the auditorium. He then asked everyone as a symbol of family unity to take the hand of the person next to them. He asked anyone who felt led to pray for the family. I’m not sure exactly how many people prayed but we were in that circle for quite awhile as the church pleaded for this important part of our family.
The beauty of the small church
I am grateful for large churches and for the ministry that they have but a large church could not have held that service. The logistics of feeding a thousand people as part of the worship service would have prevented the meal from taking place. If the meal had not taken place, communion could not have been part of it. It is difficult in a large church to make special occasions such as baptisms personal and it was the personal aspect that made it so special. I came away thanking God for the small church setting in which a service like that could happen.
A large church could not have held that time of prayer in the same way that the smaller church was able to do. How does a church of a thousand people distribute them in a large circle with everyone holding hands? What made the prayer time so special was that everyone in that auditorium knew the family for which they were praying. In a large church that isn’t possible.
Small churches can do some very special things. It takes thought and creativity. It takes an openness to trying new things. It takes all of those things but don’t ever accept the idea that the services in a small church can’t be special. I have been blessed twice in the past few weeks as the Holy Spirit has moved in two different church families in very special ways.