As a part-time local pastor in the United Methodist Church, my drive to church is longer than most ordained clergy. Like many part-time pastors, I serve a church many miles from my home. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to worship on Sunday morning.
During that drive, I pass many churches. Some are small churches like the one I serve. Some are much larger. For a couple weeks, one I pass had a water slide and an inflatable bounce house set up in its parking lot. We are a people who love church so much, it seems, that we put them down everywhere we can find some open real estate.
Which gets me thinking about why the world needs the little church I serve. The 25 or so people who worship there every week could easily be absorbed by other congregations. Why does God need Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church?
The answer, of course, can only be found among the members of the congregation. It is found as we gather together on Sunday to offer healing prayers around our piano player whose sore back is acting up. It is found as the choir ladies – all half dozen of them – sing a Communion hymn. It is found as members gather after worship for Bible Study. It is found as a church member shares with the congregation a way they can help a boy in town who need dialysis.
It turns out that God often works among the few. Jesus Christ shows up with a rag-tag bunch of a dozen. God gets rid of all the extra soldiers because it would not bring him as much glory if Gideon were to win the day at the head of a mighty host.
By every rational standard of efficiency and wise organization, these tiny churches make no sense at all. For whatever reason, though, God appears to love these little Gideon churches. He has so many of them. And thank God for that.