I was disappointed to learn that a once vibrant church was about to close. Learning about those looming locked doors brought memories of days when that church had been one of the most active in the community.
A youth program had flourished and missionary work both at home and abroad had high priority, sending people and money around the world from this caring congregation.
Too bad that these good people had lost their vision of reaching out and had started focusing on the faults of their pastor and other leaders.
Since it’s always easier to be part of a faction than to get into the action, nearly every congregation contains members who focus on faults rather than on what Jesus called the fields that are ready to harvest. Looking ever inward results in neglecting the needs of a troubled world and this has caused many churches to question their reason for existing. Closing the church then may seem the only sensible thing to do.
On the first day that Angela arrived for Sunday School, the few remaining members of the church in her community weren’t expecting her. Actually, though they were meeting at their regular starting time, the members weren’t planning to hold Bible classes. Instead, they had come together to vote to close the church.
Angela changed their plans.
In view of Angela’s surprising arrival, the lay minister decided to postpone the business meeting and hold Sunday School. Following Sunday School, Angela decided to stay for church, choosing to sit right up front...unlike some of the members who seemed to think the pews farthest from the pulpit were the best seats in the house.
For the next two-and-a-half years, Angela attended both Sunday School and church regularly and when the matter of closing the church came up it was settled with one question: “Where would Angie go?”
Then good things began to happen that kept this country church from closing.
Angela’s family started attending church services with her and soon others followed. This caused people in the neighborhood to become interested in what was happening in the little church that had been ready to close.
New converts and others who had been believers for years but inactive learned to love one another and demonstrate their faith by helping people who were going through tough times. Finally the church building wasn’t large enough to hold the crowds gathering weekly so it was renovated and enlarged. The larger congregation was then able to support a full time minister and closing was no longer an option.
Maybe your church needs an Angela. Find her and love her family to faith.
There are many ways to vote to close a church, like not attending regularly, constantly complaining about the sermons, the music, the minister and being negative about every suggestion for growth that others propose. But even these serious problems can be overcome by finding a few Angelas who respond to God’s love in childlike faith when others are ready to give up and close the doors.