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Saturday, 23 June 2007 21:00

Large Church or Small

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I would like to share an experience with you and I am still trying to sort out in my mind.

John with the family dog
John with the family dog

Some background:
I have attended church all my young life, thanks to my mother.  In fact, it was a Sunday morning on the way to church, that she went to the hospital to give birth.  I was raised in a small Baptist church in the heartland of America.  I believe I was 8 years old when I thought it was the right thing to do to answer the alter call and get baptized. I remember making the decision.  The only detail I remember was it was the right thing to do.  I cannot now remember if Jesus or his acceptance had anything to do with it.

By the time I was 16 years old, I think I was a wild young man, drinking, stealing, running with a tough crowd, all to be accepted, I suspect After high school I attended a university close to my then girlfriend, future wife and future ex wife all in one person. After one year I quit school, married and joined the armed service to support myself.  I was shipped overseas for my service and a fell into an absolutely wonderful, small church.  In this church I experienced real Christian growth. It was wonderful.

Later when I returned to the states, I continued grow in an extremely small church in the south.  The unusual aspect of this church as the fact that the pastor was a complete fake. He did not go to the schools he said he did, and this certificate was made on a computer.  But I grew under the man.

When I returned home I had the chance to go to school at a small Baptist college.

I studied and got a BA in Theology. I wanted to be a Baptist preacher, because "Baptist preachers go to heaven, don't they?"

I did gain some real insight into the Christian  faith, history, foundation, practice and theory. Did I experience a closeness with the Lord? Yes, I think so. At times, it was intense.  My marriage and personal life was falling apart and I married for the wrong reason or for no reason. I took employment that sent me to Saudi Arabia to work with non English speaking people to teach them to work on electronics.

I believe that I did not read the Bible or attend church for a period of 8 years. Of course there is no church in Saudi Arabia. I can remember depression at the realization that the only prayer I prayed for more than 10 years or more was "now I lay me down to sleep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take…

A few years after returning, at age 55, I was invited to attend a large church. (7000 in attendance on Sunday morning.)  After a few weeks, I turned my life over to the Lord like I have never before and I have never looked back  

As with all large churched, the staff is large.  Anywhere from 8 to 15 pastors on staff.  It is extremely hard to contact them personally and many times they do not respond when  you hand  them a type written letter with a request for a reply. Often appointment are missed because they "forgot".

I have been growing in the church, by contact with other Christians in the church, and not by having any dealing with the pastors. I work in ministries i.e  I operate a TV camera for the church, fix computers and other stuff.  Sometimes my attitude gets in my way. I believed in the past that pastors should be more contactable and have to go through layer after layer of staff even to talk to them.

I would not change my church for anything.  The preaching is wonderful along with a weekly TV call in Bible answer program. The pastor has been  there about 40 years and definitely the Holy Spirit is in charge.

Then, does that leaves me with a bad attitude. Is it I who is out of step with the Holy Spirit?. I should not require so much attention? Can an overly critical person be a part of such an organization? Will I grow out of it?

Our church has many rules. My un-churched 90 year old aunt was very sick in the hospital and I called the church to get someone to visit her. The answer? Cannot do it if she is not a member. We are too busy. I just called the church at 9:50 AM on a Friday to speak to 2 of the pastors. They were not in. I had a pastor jokingly tell me that he seldom puts in more than 20 hours a week. I have written letters, personally handing them to pastors asking for  support for various projects such as a Christian web site, a Christian singer and soon. Not a simple yes or no. No response at all.

I know that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life. My response to things at times depresses me and at other times make me mad.

If you take the view that the Holy Spirit is in charge, then it is me who is wrong and I am working on it.

I once read  that if you stand on the bank of a river and it is flowing from right to left and then you cross over that river it is now flowing from left to right.  The river did not change, you did.


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