Easter is one of those times where people decide to visit a church. Maybe you are one of those people thinking of finding a church to visit. There are a lot of churches in the Twin Cities that have Easter services with tons of kids, in a huge sanctuary with a large choir or if you are hipper, an awesome worship band. Maybe that church has a grand organ and with a brass orchestra joining forces to play “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”
We are a small church which is something you are never, ever allowed to say. Being a small church, in a small building means that people might judge you without getting to know you. It might not help that we belong to a denomination that few people in Minnesota have heard of.
The thing is, small churches are not for everyone. That’s just the way it is and that’s okay.
A few years ago, the pastor of a small Presbyterian church in Virginia wrote a blog post outlining the 12 reasons people shouldn’t come to her church. It’s an interesting post because it’s so counterintuitive to what church leaders have learned. We are supposed to be welcoming, taking all comers. We are supposed to do what we can to make visitors feel welcome.
But this blog post is honest in saying that some churches are not for every one and that’s okay. Churches can’t satisfy everyone, but church leaders have it drilled into our brains that Churches have to be places that are for everyone. Here’s a little of what she wrote:
1.We’re small. . . really small . . . tiny even. And small ain’t for everyone. Because here’s the thing about small: it really is up to you. So if you want a church where you can plug in to what’s already going on, slide in and slide out with little fuss, well, we’re just not the church for you, for the fact is that if you’re coming to this tiny church, you will be called on. 2.As a corollary to #1, there is no anonymity here. There’s nowhere to hide, to be invisible, in a church this size – there just isn’t. You will be noticed. You will be welcomed. And hugged. And while hospitality is a good thing, not everyone is comfortable with being noticed. That’s okay. We’re just not for you. 3.Another corollary to #1, if you’ve got a great idea but no time or energy or interest to implement it, this place is definitely not for you. This pastor loves new ideas and most times, we’ll all jump in behind someone who’s got one – but, and it’s a big thing – really – if it’s your idea, it’ll be up to you to make it come true. We’ll help you. But if it’s yours, baby, you run with it or it won’t happen.
The fact is, there will be people who come looking for strong ministries for their children. But we don’t have them. The big Lutheran congregation down the road probably does. And I’ll be happy to point them in that direction.
First-St. Paul can’t really afford to do everything to bring people into. Lot’s of churches around the country face the same issue. Some people like going to mega-churches because they will be unknown. I get that. But this small congregation is never going to be a place where you can hide.
Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake are home to some rather large congregations. I have nothing against them, but we can’t compete against 1000+ member churches and we shouldn’t even try.
We are not the church for everyone. No church can do that. But we are the church for someone, someone looking for small gathering of believers who want to do God’s work in the world. This is the church that loves hosting a monthly potluck. It’s a church that continues to be church even if only five people show up on a Sunday morning. We are the church that goes and does mission projects.
So if you are looking for a place to worship this Holy Week and you are looking for a place that cares for each other (like going to the funeral of the son of a new returning visitor), I hope to see you this Sunday or some Sunday in the future. If you are looking for a small church we will be happy to have you and we will make you feel at home. Just remember, we aren’t the church for everyone but we might be the church for you.
Have a blessed Holy Week.
Dennis Sanders, pastor