3 Powerful Lessons I Learned From My Church Roots
I grew up in a small town; a town of 5,000 people in south central Texas, 90 minutes from the cities of San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Corpus Christi. We lived for Friday night lights and church.
Mom and Dad were pillars in our small church. In fact, they helped build our little church building. I remember after Dad had worked long hours in his job as a door-to-door salesman, Mom would get home from work, make supper, and we would take it to Dad at the church. I remember sitting on the floor, watching Dad eat as he paused from stapling ceiling tiles.
Church was their life! Beyond the Lord, His church, and family, we did little to nothing except high school football.
My Small Home Church was Really Small
My home church reached about thirty to forty people weekly. Periodically, we might even crawl above forty or fifty people, but would soon subside to our normal attendance. How do I remember all of that? It’s simple. Those numbers were posted weekly on the Sunday School attendance board placed in the small Worship Center Dad helped build.
I vividly remember how I thought a large church was the church in town that touched as many as two hundred people on Sunday. This was all I knew. When I left for college, someone asked me where I would want to go if I ever had the opportunity to pastor a church. I told them, “If I could one day come back and pastor that large church, it would be great.” Honestly, it was pretty well the largest church I knew about.
My Small Home Church was So Small
Most people would not imagine my roots being in a small church, but I have testified about it for years.
My small home church was so small that:
- Anyone could share their testimony whenever they wanted.
- Anyone could suggest their favorite hymn and it would be sung.
- Monthly business meetings were held on Wednesday nights with the following “King James Version” order:
- Minutes of the previous meeting read aloud
- Treasurer’s Report, giving publicly each monthly expense
- Old Business and yes, some of it was very old
- New Business, most of which was Old Business that still needed to be settled, OR ideas a person thought we ought to consider, and even public airing of burdens and grievances.
- Sunday nights the preacher did not “feel led” to preach, but opened it up for testimonies. This usually involved the same people saying the same thing, testifying about their Lord.
- Wednesday night prayer meetings seemed endless, involving prayer requests and updates, spoken requests and “unspoken requests” (which I still do not understand), as well as a season of prayer that seemed like an eternity for those of us who were kids.
- Our pastor usually transitioned every 18-30 months.
- We went to Sunday School, Worship, had the preacher over for lunch, (not FOR lunch) took a quick nap, then returned for Training Union and Sunday Night Worship.
- We went to someone’s home each Sunday night after church or had people at our home, usually for popcorn and Coke, and occasionally something like a cake leftover from lunch.
- I led worship as a young teenager, and once I became a Christian and called to ministry, I preached repeatedly through my young ministry years.
- I was the ONLY student in the Sunday School class and in Training Union, both of which were taught by the same teacher.
I understand how some small churches operate. These are my roots.
Three Powerful Lessons My Small Church Roots Taught Me
My roots are so deep in a small church, most lessons I learned about the Christian life and church, I learned in that environment. Today, I recognize more about their value than I realized then. Here are three powerful lessons I am so grateful I learned in my small church roots.
Lesson #1: The Bible is the Word of God
In our small church, the Bible was not questioned. We knew the Bible was the Word of God, completely infallible, and without error.
Lesson #2: The Priority of the Local Church
There was never a debate about the priority of our church. We were taught the church’s priority growing up, and Dad and Mom did not tolerate anything otherwise. I was engaged in church regardless of my desire or schedule.
Lesson #3: The Value of Personal Evangelism
Every Tuesday night, I was at church visitation. Many times I went with my pastor or other church leaders who taught me how to lead people to Christ.
Personal evangelism was expected in my church, even though we were small in membership and attendance. Looking back, it might seem abnormal that a small church was so focused on personal evangelism. But as a teenager, I knew God wanted to use me to win others to Christ.
These ARE My Roots!
These are my roots and I am so grateful for them. They shaped my life and even my vision. I love the opportunity to assist or engage any small church or her pastor. I stand grateful to God for my home church in Texas, which later merged with another church, a Hispanic church. My sister, Linda, serves full-time as their Church Secretary.
Additionally, I am grateful for each small church I pastored in my younger years, each small church in which I have ever preached, and every pastor of any smaller membership church, for he pays a great price but experiences exuberate joy by leading some of God’s greatest people on this planet.
1,000 thank yous, God, for my small church roots!
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