There are two churches that changed my life. They transformed me from a loner into someone who appreciates true friendship and sincere service. Interestingly, none of the two assemblies ever became big.
The first church
In one of the churches, there was a core group of 50 who served in various departments, some in multiple units. Then maybe another 50 floating members who attended services regularly.
What I liked most about this particular church was, people felt seen.
If you didn’t attend service, someone would notice and look for you. It was somewhat intrusive but heartwarming. If you were hungry and happened to visit a fellow member, you would be fed, no questions asked. If you had difficulty paying an urgent bill, people stepped in. There was a palpable feeling of love that was neither contrived nor legislated.
Yesterday, I put up a post on Facebook asking what people urgently needed. When I saw the items that were mentioned, I internally wept. Do these people not have churches? Why do they lack these simple things when churches exist? Was their local assembly not aware of their pain and lack? Anyway, let me continue.
The second church
In the second church I attended, we had monthly foodstuff for impoverished folks as well as educational scholarships. Everyone had the pastor’s telephone number.
Looking back now, I wonder why the social structures in those churches weren’t regularly abused by Nigerians. Maybe then, people still had shame. Or perhaps the small size of each church made it difficult for bad behaviour to hide.
Why didn’t the churches explode numerically?
You would think such demonstrable hope & light would attract others. After all, we had external programs with halls filled to capacity. We also evangelized, albeit telling new converts to attend any nearby Bible-believing church and not necessarily ours. Were we clannish? Did we have a close-knit culture that was difficult to penetrate or replicate? Were we more interested in quality, which requires extreme focus, than quantity?
I’m not sure of the responses to the preceding questions. But, I had some of the best times of my life in those churches. And the thing is, when people left, they rarely looked back. It was like that season of their lives was done and they moved on, to the chagrin of the pastors, I might add. While they remembered the churches with fond memories, only a few returned to visit. After a while, some of the pastors resented this.
Could it be that what happened was part of a grand design, rather than a shortcoming or flaw?
Was that how things were meant to be in those churches that changed my life? Were the churches incubators of a unique generation rather than precursors to ineffective mega-churches?
Whatever the answers are, today I look at some of the people who emerged from those churches and I am so proud of their accomplishments. They have become incredible children of God bearing fruit. And perhaps, that’s enough.
For more, please read My very Strong Christian Message.