I attend a very small church. Very small. I don’t count the number of people, but maybe fifty attend a week? That may be over-stating.
Even fewer is the number of children. Most Sundays there are only two, sisters.
Most of my adult life I went to mega-churches. Often I would be an early adopter, but they would grow quickly, and would be the buzz around town. Everyone wanted to come hang out. Church was an event.
After a while, I began to get discouraged. They became something I didn’t want church to be. Huge budgets, but not a lot of business sense. Lots of staff, but not a lot of member or leader care.
I’m a church weirdo. In some areas of my life, I can be outgoing. At some point I get like that at church, but it’s not really easy. When I started attending my current church I knew a few people. Still, only a couple would talk to me on Sunday morning. Maybe.
It wasn’t just their fault. As service would end, I’d hit that door quickly to avoid that uncomfortable small talk. No one chased me.
I started making myself not bolt immediately. I’d give myself a period of time I needed to hang around and try to engage with people. Once again, it wasn’t long. One to three minutes. Yes, I seriously watched the time as I stood there trying to be noticed.
But when no one engaged in that time period, I bolted.
A friend of mine finally took me under her wing, and helped me to get a bit more involved. It took about four years.
Nowadays I am more a part of things and don’t always bolt, though I still have my moments. We have a lovely pastor who notices people and he always seeks people like me out. A couple of other people do, too. I know some have sensed that though I sometimes act like am extrovert, at heart I’m really just an awkward introvert.
But that’s not really the direction I was headed. ADHD at its best.
One thing I love about this small little church is its passion for social justice and commitment to make a difference. Twenty percent of our budget goes to local missions. Yes, that budget is tiny compared to most churches, but those dollars are carefully given to nonprofits (the majority in our own community) where they do the most good.
One local nonprofit gives food to families who need it. They screen families and give food based on need, though most who apply are given something.
A big area we watch is their pet food supply. Why is this important? Pets are considered members of the family, so many share their human rations with their pets. We try to make sure they can also get pet food, so buy big supplies that can be spread out to people who need it. (So donate pet food to food banks if you’re looking for ways to help people.)
Our Lent offering is going to give seed money to a local PFLAG chapter (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) starting in our community. To make an offering to help people who are often disenfranchised? It fits. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter where we take time to reflect on the life of Jesus and the things that may block our spiritual relationship. What are we, as individuals and the church, not doing that we should be doing? How do we love all of God’s people more? What can we learn from those things Jesus taught?
But the signs. The picture at the top of this blog? It was made by those children of the church. They made one for each family. Though we don’t have many kids who attend, those who do are important. We have people who focus on them. They often do things for members that teach and encourage.
My sign is in the front window of my apartment. A small way I can show I support the people of the Ukraine, given to me by two young girls who are being raised to know we need to pay attention to our world and stand up for its people. Who are encouraging us not to forget these people. Even if no one else sees it, I notice it each time I go home, and I pray. It focuses me to watch God work in this war and not just stay in my own small world.
My true point today, though, is little churches – or even little people – can make a difference to this world. What are you going to do to change someone’s life today?