Eighteen years ago God led us to the smallest church in Lancaster County. This was after we had boldly proclaimed that we were going to find a huge church and get lost in it. No joke! That really happened.
During those eighteen years our church has been small more than it has been anything else...but it has had heart. Big, big heart.
Our children were raised there. They were loved on, challenged, encouraged and supported through all that normal young people go through as they grow up. When they each married they found churches that suited themselves and their spouses away from the church each of them were raised in. I think that must be kind of normal....Warren and I did the same thing. It's sad for me...but I think I understand it. Part of the leaving and cleaving.
During the last ten years Sonrise Christian Fellowship swelled in size and volume with many large families...most driving long distances to be there. We greatly enjoyed a season of growth.
Over the more recent years we have observed God's call on many of these families to find a place of worship closer to home. We missed each of them like crazy...because we don't worship or fellowship casually...but knew that if we were in their position we would likely not have done all of that driving, planning, packing and everything else for as long as they did. We were happy for the time we had with them.
Last week was the last Sunday for the last of our "distance" families. They had been with us for at least eight years. Eight years of driving nearly an hour every Sunday. As God would have it, I now work much closer to this family and look forward to continued fellowship with my dear sister, Kelly.
Now, up until recent weeks, I had become quite discouraged and just tired of the status quo of our Sunday routine. I was always completely wiped out from busy weekends at the shop and it seemed others were in the same detached state that I was when we arrived. I felt frustration that it seemed we were all going through the motions to have church. Now, it could have just been me. Seriously...I was one hundred percent spent by the time I arrived there each week. But...I think it was more after seeing how the last couple of weeks have gone.
Recently our size shrunk again to less than can support the building we meet in for very long. A congregational meeting was called and our dear Pastor Mike challenged everyone there to search their hearts and God's will for each one. If anyone felt a call to be elsewhere this would be the time to follow that call. Those who didn't feel such a calling should remain and see what God wanted to do with us. This led to two additional families moving on their next path. It was with tears that we said our goodbyes. We bear no hard feelings to any who have left. We are thankful for them having the courage to follow God's call in their lives. It is often WAY easier to continue in the status quo.
That leaves a remnant of about 21.
There are about 21 of us who are seeking God's face for the future of our church. Now, honestly, I have been o.k. with whatever God wants to do....move us all on, or supply our needs here and grow us to the numbers that can support our place of worship.
Here's where I get the title for this post. I completely expected the remainder to just make the logical choice that Sonrise Christian Fellowship was done. But that didn't happen. We met. We prayed. We got together and reduced the number of chairs in the sanctuary. We shared in fellowship. We decided to hold off on Sunday School for the Summer. And we have been worshiping. With all of our hearts. Pastor Mike has been preaching with a clarity and passion beyond belief.
There is no logical explanation for this. We should be crushed. We should be discouraged. We certainly miss those who have gone. But we just shake our heads at the presence of God in our midst as we lift our voices and hands in song. As we pray for the concerns on each heart. Tables are pushed together because none of us wants to be at separate tables as we share fellowship meals.
Unexpected offers of help have come from within our midst. I say unexpected because these people have been faithful to attend but have never stepped up into leadership roles .....probably because someone else was happily serving in that role. But it is so super sweet to see these acts of faith. Not to say, "Well, it doesn't matter because we will close soon", but to say..."Hey, I'd love to do that!".
I have no idea what God is doing with us. But I will say this....if He is working toward closing our doors I couldn't be happier about the joy He is giving us in our final days. However, if He has more for this little Fellowship to do, I will rejoice in His growing us once more. In the meanwhile we will wait. And see.
If you happen to be looking for a SMALL church who loves Jesus, worships together and plays together we welcome you to visit with us. Sundays at 10:30. Contact me for location and schedule.
You know I use this blog as a diary of sorts for when the big things happen....this is kind of a big thing. And I'm super curious to see what will happen next. I didn't expect to find us thriving and happy together. Honestly. I didn't. I thought at this point we would be packing up everything and in a search for a new church ourselves. It may still happen...but I'm just not so sure.