Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Little Country Church

Tonight's post is one of my little "musing" type comments based on the sight of a photo I took (to the right) and a fun old song.

If you remember the pioneering Christian country-rock band Love Song, you'll remember Little Country Church, originally recorded in 1972. The linked version is from their 1977 live concert tour album called "Feel the Love." I've had the privilege of seeing Love Song live on one of their sporadic reunions, and they did this particular song when I saw them.

What got me musing was looking again at the picture of this "little country church" a mile or so up the road from me. I've been a guest preacher there, and the pastor is one of the kindest, most tender-hearted elderly men I've ever known. I haven't seen him for a while, but he really sets a Christian example. His wife has been quite ill for several years and, the last I knew, was largely uncommunicative and could move very little. Yet even at his advanced age, he tenderly and compassionately cared for her at home while also shepherding his small congregation out in the rural Illinois boonies. His church is not a megachurch. Not even close. Most have probably never heard of it. Yet he faithfully goes on day in and day out in his ministry, loving the flock God has placed in his charge. He's not on television. He's not on radio. Outside of this little rural community and outside of his denominational fellowship, not many probably know his name. But I suspect his reward in heaven will be great.

Don't get me wrong. I don't intend to knock large churches. Nor do I think it necessarily wrong or a bad thing that a church has enough resources to reach out through radio or television. Having been a part of some megachurches in the past (before I moved out to the boonies), there are times when I wonder if spending all the money that gets spent on buildings and such could be put to better, more spiritually fruitful use, but that's a discussion that has gone on for years—internally and externally. But my point is—don't knock the little places. Don't sneer at the little white building with a tall steeple, a bell that gets rung every Sunday morning, with a small cemetery off to the side where rural families have laid their members to rest for generations. Real ministry happens in these little churches—wood painted white or any other color, brick, stucco, it doesn't matter. The true church isn't a building anyway. It's a spiritual building made up of saved, forgiven, reborn people with Christ at the head. Yet in these little out of the way Hallmark card, Norman Rockwell-scene church buildings, glorious things happen. Real people have real encounters with God. Lives are changed for eternity, even when no one hears about it or sees it on the news.

But our God who sees in secret will reward openly and generously, in His perfect time. So carry on, faithful pastor in your faithful small church. Let your light shine. Out in the rural darkness, it can shine very brightly!

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