Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mega Church, Micro Church, No Church, Future Church

You all know what a Mega Church is right? Some people might compare it to a Super WalMart or a shopping mall. In fact some of the most famous Mega Churches are in converted shopping malls. I’ve always been most comfortable in the familiar community type church. One with Sunday School, mid week services, pot luck dinners and Christmas Pageants with cute kids wearing tinsel halos or cardboard crowns. When we moved to Farmington, NM, it was to pastor a little church on the American Indian Bible Ministries complex. We were affiliated with the Free Methodist Denomination. The congregation was tiny, about 10 plus the 4 Brokops. The piano player was white, and her husband was the care taker of the complex. Everyone else was Navajo. The “job description” said that we were to develop a multicultural ministry in the little church that was called simply “The Church at Famington.” We were only there for 6 months, and grew the congregation to 30+. It was on the way to becoming a nice little community type church. We had a good thing going, but it didn’t last. The leadership of the complex on which the church was located decided a Navajo Pastor could do a better job. They over ruled the desires of the congregation and sent us packing. After serving as assistant pastor and children’s coordinator for a while, Art was offered a position as pastor of Living Grace Church. This was an Open Bible Standard church, a really nice facility. A real tiny congregation. No Salary. So of course we took it. We tried everything we could think of to make that church grow, as had the pastor before us. We changed its name to Gateway of the Rock, to reflect some of the prophesies that had been spoken over us and our ministry. We lost some people, we gained some people, mostly kids. And after a couple of years we knew we couldn’t afford to keep the building. So with an average attendance of 12 (counting the 4 Brokops) we became a home fellowship. Within a month of moving into our front room, our average attendance sprung up to 24, about 10 adults and 10 folk under 14, and 6 of them were Brokops. Most were related to each other, moms, dads, aunt, cousins, etc. We had 4 generations going. Every Sunday morning 3 packed cars would drive up to our house. We had the family room set up as the Church room and we’d all crowd in. The kids sat on the floor. Pastor Art would play his guitar, the kids would bang on tambourines or maracas and we’d sing about 5 or six songs. Then the kids went into the front room to color and watch veggie tales while the adults had a Bible Study. It was all pretty casual. When the Bible study was done we’d all get together for the closing prayer and than have brunch. On Wednesdays, about 12 of us would get together at another persons home for a Bible Study. A few times someone in the family called on a Saturday night to say their car broke down, and we’d activate the phone tree and move the service to their house that week. Pastor Art wanted to make sure that Gateway of the Rock was a Church, a ministry, not just a group of people getting together. We became active members of the Christian Community of the Four Corners region. As I give the following stats, remember that at most we are talking about 25 people. 90% of our Church participated in the Passion Play of the Four Corners, a dramatic production about the last week of our LORD’s life which involves more than 30 area churches and 100 cast members. It is a 12 week commitment. 80% of our people helped prepare and serve an Easter Dinner for the homeless through “Frontline Mission”. 7 of our Children (ages 2 thru 12) sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” at a community patriotic celebration. About 50% of us participated in community worship and outreach events during the summers of 2002 and 2003. We had an all church scavenger hunt to collect food for the hungry – we got 6 big baskets full. We helped prepare and serve the Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinners and visited several area churches when they had special events or speakers. We sang carols at an area nursing home.

But there were some problems. We didn’t have a youth group, or a children’s ministry. They kids were always and only with their own siblings or cousins.

They needed more. And some family issues arose that threatened to divide.

Besides which, Pastor Art and I were going through some deep, serious family issues our selves. We needed a break. So after Passion Play 2004 we discontinued our fellowship. Our people had formed friendships with several people from several different churches. We prayed with them and blessed them and sent them on their way. We then became members of Four Corners

Community Church in Shiprock NM. We love it there. But we know that it is only for a season. God’s plan for Gateway of the Rock Ministries is not finished. We don’t think we will ever be a church again. At least not a church that would fit into any of the current models. More like a ministry center. We can see it, in the distance. We talk about it, we pray about it, and we wait. Open Bible Standard churches are willing to pray and wait with us, because they know too, God has a plan!


Blogger Maryellen said...

as are many of the postings on this site, they are written by me,
Maryellen, wife and help mate of Pastor Art.

2:48 PM  

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