Note from the author: I've stated many times in this blog that I have issues with my church. That I feel I don't belong there, that I feel that because I kind of "stand out", that some there look down on me. While there are a few individuals that still make me feel that way, things have gotten much better. There are a greater number of people who make me feel welcome, wanted and loved. The comments in this blog are just me spewing my feelings and in no way am I claiming that these individuals are "bad" people or less loved by God. The views previously shared here were, and continue to be, my opinions and feelings.
The Lazarus Church - God still brings back the dead.
We joined our church in late 2003. We had moved to the area in pursuit of a better job opportunity and the company that hired me moved us from Denver to the Four Corners area. We wanted a church that believed as we did, and that led us to the church we currently call home.
Our first Sunday at the church looked something like this: There were 4 cars in the lot. The auditorium or sanctuary or whatever you want to call it was fairly large, but greatly disorganized. Chairs seemed to be scattered haphazardly about as if several small groups had met at the same time, then left without putting the chairs back in order. About 20 or so were lined up facing the left side of the stage, which, except for the piano and electronic organ, was unused. A music stand was placed on the floor in front of the stage facing the chairs.
The preacher was an unpaid volunteer, a member but not an elder or part of leadership structure of the church. Attendance that morning was 18. 8 of which was me and my family.
At the time, I didn't know the history of the church. Obviously, this wasn't a new church. The few in attendance were well into their 60s and older. The building was relatively new and belonged to the congregation that used it.
What I saw was the dying gasp of a church. A body that obviously was once alive and active had dwindled to a small handful of faithful (or stubborn) members that, due to age, were no longer able to perform the mission of the church.
With a lot of prayer and maybe a touch of sympathy, we decided to join. Our feeling at the time was that this church needed us. It needed someone new to keep it alive and running.
I won't go into the issues that our church was having. I still don't really understand it all. But generally speaking, selfish leadership, entrenched politics, and an attitude of "we've always done it this way" led to several bad choices. In the end, growth was stunted and slowly the body was dying off, in many cases, literally.
Fast forward 7 years. Politics and posturing have finally been given the boot. Instead of 5 cars in the lot, there are 30. The chairs are ordered and full. More chairs are placed in the back to handle the overflow. The music, instead of slow and somber, is bright, flowing, and joyful. The auditorium is bright and clean. The stage is clear, making room for the energetic preacher to wander and gesture and teach. The average age of members (if you don't factor in the growing number of children) is 30 something instead of 60 something.
What made the difference? I could point to several factors that, taken together, have made a difference, but in the end there's really only one explanation: God showed up. We are Lazarus. Once dead and called to come forth from our tomb.
God still does miracles.