“Weeds, Boards, and Dust”

On Sunday, January 19, 2014 Senior Pastor Tim Walker’s sermon was on growing spiritually. He focused on three areas—growing faith, growing love, and growing the church. Isaiah 54:2 served as the scripture reference for the focus on growing the church. The scripture says, “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.”

Tim used the analogy of a cruise ship, focusing on the feature that determined the quality of the cruise experience—the ratio of passengers to crew members. A higher ratio of crew to passengers greatly increases the likelihood of a memorable cruise rated highly by passengers. Tim asked the congregation to think of the church as a mighty cruise ship and posed the question, “Are you a passenger or a crew member?” With a slight smile, he pointed out that, to succeed, we need more crew members. His closing challenge question was, “What will your next ‘yes’ be?”

The challenge of more active service—becoming a member of the crew—is one that pastors continually issue to church members in a variety of formats. Church leaders offered such challenges from the beginnings of the church and have continued to do so down to Tim’s sermon last week.

In 1997, John Rech served as Associate Pastor here at First Methodist with Senior Pastor Lane Boyd. Long-time church members remember both leaders fondly. The church newspaper at that time had already taken the “Tower Times” as its banner and resembled an older style large format newspaper. Digital print was not even on the horizon. But service and growing the church certainly were.

Pastor Rech wrote a piece entitled “Weeds, Boards, and Dust” for the column usually reserved for Lane. Much of what John said nicely complements Tim’s words.

“Not long ago, a man greeted the pastor following the worship service with the words, ‘I’m new in town, and I’m looking for a new church home; but I want you to understand what kind of church I’m looking for.’ The pastor inquired as to the kind of church the man was interested in and the man said, “I don’t want a church that demands too much, one that is always asking me to do something, or one that expects me to sing. Also, I’m not interested in Sunday school or other church meetings and please don’t ask me to give.”

The pastor, after hearing the description of the church, said to the man, ‘I think I know a church where you will feel right at home,’ and he wrote down the address on a piece of paper and handed it to the man.

Several weeks later, the man decided to visit the church which the pastor recommended, and on Sunday morning he drove to the address which was written on the paper. But, as he drove up, he thought he must have been given the wrong address. There were weeds growing through the cracks in the sidewalk, the grass had not been cut, and as he looked at the building, there were boards nailed across the windows, and the doors were locked. As he sat in his car, suddenly he realized that it must have been the right address. He returned to the church he had visited earlier and following the service said to the pastor, ‘I found the kind of church I thought I wanted, the one you suggested, but that really is not what I want. Can I become a part of this church and will you help me find a place here to serve the Lord?’ He was obviously eagerly welcomed.”

I think if Pastor Rech had heard Tim’s sermon, he would have reminded us that there are always positions available on the crew.