I am on my way to officiate at the memorial service for my dear friend, Wayne Elston. Wayne was a great pastor for 39 years. He pushed through hardships most of us can only imagine. He knew his time was short. I am posting the last article he posted at the end of May. He went to Heaven on July 1. Be encouraged.
My mentor and spiritual dad is Dr. Bob Lemon. He has spoken a lot of things into my life over the years. After a service years ago we were enjoying a meal and he said, “This is a comfortable church.” I knew immediately that this was not a compliment. He was relating that we can get too comfortable where we are, and stop moving ahead to where we need to be.
Later Dr. Lemon challenged us with this statement: “If your church was suddenly gone, would anyone notice?” In other words, are we having any impact on the community around us?
In my mind I’m merging those observations with images from a book I’ve started reading. The premise of the book is that we may be focusing too much energy into being BIGGER, when we should be endeavoring to be BETTER. Bigger is not necessarily better! We shouldn’t be comfortable sitting where we are. We are responsible to have an impact on the community around us. If our focus is primarily on numerical growth, we may not do either of these things well.
Here’s an interesting quote from the book: “Jesus didn’t wake up this morning depressed by the size of your church. You may have; sometimes I still do. But Jesus isn’t worried even a little bit.”
Consider this: in churches of every size, from the mega-church to the house church, there are good and bad, sick and healthy, friendly and unfriendly, etc., etc. Obviously we all want to be good, healthy and friendly. But none of those things are dependent on size. There’s nothing wrong with being big … or small! But no matter what the size, there’s no reason to be a sick, unfriendly congregation.
John Maxwell, among others said, “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” A great church is a caring church. We should not only care about the community around us, but the brothers and sisters in Christ who congregate with us each Sunday. It really is easy to get lost in our own tribulations and totally block out hurting people around us. The good news is that as we care for a wounded brother or sister, our own needs have a way of either being met or not seeming as important.
I guess in all this rambling what I’m saying is let’s focus on excellence. Let’s take the next step – whatever that may be – to live like true disciples of our Lord. While doing that we just may get bigger!
Pastor Wayne Elston. December 11, 1948 – July 1, 2018. Well done!