I spend most of my time visiting churches in western Kentucky. There is such a variety of sizes, styles, ideas, and practices! It is so interesting to be among God’s people and to see how life works in that locale.
One thing that is heard often is this: “It would be great if we had about 100 more people, or if we had more money coming in. Then we could do lots of things.”
While that may seem to be true, it is simply a distraction. After all, the real question is, “Yes, but what ARE you doing these days?”
Every church–large, medium, small, virtual—has the call and the responsibility to do something in Jesus’ name in this world. Why else are we here, and why would we claim the red chalice on our buildings and media? It is so heartening to hear, then, what churches are really doing, regardless of size, throughout the world.
Right here in Kentucky, there are churches that are especially busy this time of year, holding wonderful events that celebrate the harvest and bounty of our world. Alongside that, recognizing the reality of hunger in our communities, churches are calling on persons to give money and food items to stock community food pantries. There is the beauty of the fall season, but there is the realization that we are called to do what we can where we are to answer the call of Jesus to help one another.
Some of our smallest congregations are places of faithful worship every Sunday. Teachers of Biblical studies reside in congregations, and they have a wealth of experience in teaching and learning even more about the Bible. Not that we all agree on interpreting scripture, but then, we are part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)!
The point is that each congregation has worthy, holy work to do. We dare not waste time and energy wishing we were something else. We must be mindful of the good efforts we make in the name of Jesus Christ. What is one wonderful thing that your congregation does every year? Why do you like it?
As we enter this season of gratitude, think about the ways in which your congregation, whether it’s growing or declining or holding steady, is ministering to the world. Sometimes it’s about passing on great traditions with deep meaning. I know of one congregation in a neighboring state who held an annual Coal Night Dinner. It was a long-time tradition held around Thanksgiving. Each family in the church, back in the day, used to bring their best dishes to share and a bucket of coal
to heat the church for the year. As time went on, this practice morphed into using one of the old coal buckets, cleaned up of course, to collect checks and cash for the church’s utilities for the year.
Whatever we do, we are called to set aside comparisons or wishing for something else; instead, we must find our focus and our renewed energy to be about
our best work and ministry in our time and place. God bless us all!
Rev. Dr. Beth Dobyns
CCK Associate Regional Minister for the West Area