the serialized history of a churchMay 14, 2009
I am pretty sure I have talked before about Real Live Preacher (Gorden Atkinson), I know I made Becca and Jess listen to me read aloud out of his book before. And I have probably mentioned how much I enjoy his thoughts on faith, church, writing, depression, etc. Anyways recently he has been writing a series of essays describing the history of his current church. Starting back when they met in a country club bar, through the difficulties of losing their original preacher, and the many interesting people who have joined with the church. Here are some excerpts from his series so far. After you read them, go here to start from the beginning.
Covenant Baptist Church has been something of an experiment, because we didn’t have any role models. From the beginning we decided that we would do things that seem right to us and waste no energy doing things that didn’t seem important. As it turned out, most of the things that standard churches do didn’t seem important to us.
So you see, things get done here. But they are slow things. They are things with natural patinas that can only grow with time. Things are settled into the ground and beautiful. These things exist because we’ve chosen to live our lives slowly and deliberately in this community. We’re living on Spirit time, not clock time.
One Sunday there were only 13 people in attendance at the Duckblind Lounge. I preached and led music that Sunday, awkwardly moving my arms up and down to the beat of the hymns as I had seen music ministers do. We had no piano player that Sunday either, so it was just 13 shaky voices that seemed to get lost in the emptiness of the room. That was definitely a low point for me.
But sometimes there is a moment of grace in hard times.
That graceful moment came when I came around a corner and saw Reiley with Ben Chappell, one of the kindest and most committed Christians I have ever known. Having only Reiley in his Sunday School class, Ben was sitting next to her on a bench. His weathered Bible was open and laid across their laps. He was reading to her from the scriptures and talking with her about what they read there. Their heads were inclined toward each other and they seemed lost in their own world.
That’s when I saw the truth. There wasn’t a child in any church in the world who was having a better experience than my child on that Sunday morning. She had a one-on-one lesson with Ben that day. Just the two of them. Ben, who loved the Bible and loved questions about the Bible. Ben, who was gentle and smart and who would listen to her doubts and questions with care and understanding. Ben, who would celebrate her earliest steps of faith. I quietly backed away and left the two of them alone.
Okay, I should probably stop quoting someone else’s words, but hopefully this is enough to make you go check the rest of the series out. If you do let me know what you think.